Paying down IT debt with a modern platform approach

Agility Platform update

For a long time now, the standard approach to IT hardware and software procurement has served the enterprise well.

Companies have largely prospered from the investments they’ve made in new platforms and new applications. But that’s no longer a sure bet. As they say in the stock market, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Similarly, the answer to a business challenge is no longer an automatic decision to “throw more iron at it.” Overlapping cycles of technology and market change have resulted in an overhaul of the old approach to IT.

Every technology decision a company makes – the choice to build a proprietary system for a particular product, the idea to create a different system for that business unit, the case made for many special applications – creates a technology debt.

In the past, when IT served the company in a supporting role, it was acceptable to allow that debt to accumulate. (Every company has its own computer history museum.) However, IT no longer supports the business as it did in the past. IT is the business. And as business needs have accelerated, the cost of carrying technology debt has skyrocketed.

Privately hosted environments, once state of the art, now hinder IT’s ability to meet business agility. Scaling or “hand cranking” infrastructure to meet dynamic demand takes too long, takes too much space and costs too much. Pressed to answer urgent needs, business leaders go outside IT to buy services directly, a practice known as “shadow IT.”

While existing systems and older applications are necessary to continue operations — and this will likely continue into the future – platforms now need to be easily repurposed and have the ability to scale up or down, according to real-time business needs. Applications need to be light and mobile, with access to broad swaths of enterprise data.

As the concept of cloud architecture takes root in IT strategy, some businesses are adopting a public cloud-first approach. In certain circumstances, public cloud is not always appropriate or desired. Issues such as regulatory compliance, architecture constraints, software licensing, etc. come into play here. So to facilitate on-premises workload, enterprise IT needs a modern platform that embraces cloud characteristics.

The agile hybrid cloud platform is the key. This approach recognizes and supports the two paces of digital transformation occurring in the industry today: the aggressive adoption of digital tools including social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) and the need to continue paying off and paying dividends for existing IT debt.

The transformation of platforms from complex and expensive stacks of hardware into flexible computing resources represents a major step toward business agility. The complexity and scope of the IT estate can be greatly reduced; the need for shadow IT decreased. And with consistent control and governance policies applied, the security of the overall system — not just the individual instance — can be improved.

Read more in the white paper, Agile Hybrid Cloud Platform Enables Digital Success


chris-swan CSC Blogs

Chris Swan is CTO for the Global Delivery Organization at DXC, where he leads the shift towards design for operations across the offerings families, and the use of data to drive optimization of customer transformation and service fulfillment. Chris was previously CTO for Global Infrastructure Services at CSC. Before that he held CTO and Director of R&D roles at Cohesive Networks, UBS, Capital SCF and Credit Suisse, where he worked on app servers, compute grids, security, mobile, cloud, networking and containers.



bob-eastham CSC Blogs

Bob Eastham is a distinguished architect helping shape DXC’s platform strategy and next generation offering development. Bob has held a number of senior architecture positions across account delivery, new business, strategy and offering development. He has extensive expertise in infrastructure architecture, strategy and integration and solution governance.



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  1. Tim Coote says:

    Tech. debt isn’t really a platform issue, it’s a capabilities, capacity and process issue.

    The current main killer for tech debt is the lack of appropriate test coverage of heritage systems – especially package based systems. For world-class systems, the tests define how the systems and their components should (and do) behave.

    Maybe some eyes are opening – I even had a professional from a large SI admit to me today that ‘Hybrid Cloud’ is largely a catchup exercise by the big service providers, but still entails paying more to build an inferior version of AWS, while preserving much of the bad habits that large capex spends encourage.


    • Lisa Braun says:

      Response from Chris Swan:

      Tim – of course tech debt is wider than the platform. Let’s generalise it as decisions of the past that don’t look good in the present; and then of course there are the adventurous platform decisions that today contribute to (and often anchor) tech debt all the way up the stack. I know organisations that are still running NeXT cubes and DEC Alphas, which I’m sure seemed like a great choice at the time, but have subsequently become special little corners of their very own computer history museums.

      Perhaps the broader point here is that too much of the conversation is driven by looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Rather than starting with ‘we need an agile infrastructure’, which leads to cloud (in all its flavours), we should instead start with ‘we need continuous delivery’ (and all the testing that goes with that), which of course ends up driving the need for an infrastructure to support that.


      • Tim Coote says:

        I think we’re on the same page wrt CD as an approach to minimising tech. debt. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of vested interests in sustaining those venerable systems.


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