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Is Technical Debt Keeping You Stuck in a World of Legacy Applications?

Author: Tom Moore | | September 14, 2021


Choosing the “quick and dirty” approach rarely pays off in the long run, and the same is true for your enterprise IT. The term “technical debt” refers to the “debt” an organization must pay-off in the future because of the shortcuts they took during software development projects that were easier or faster than the correct ways following industry standards and best practices.

Technical debt is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes and industries. According to a survey by McKinsey & Company, 10 to 20 percent of an organization’s technology budget for new products is being spent on resolving technical debt issues. What’s more, organizations estimated that the total value of their technical debt is 20 to 40 percent of the value of their entire technology “estate”—a very pricey bill to pay.

If you’re still using slow, monolithic, on-premises legacy software, it could be preventing you from taking full advantage of the cloud, or of the DevOps benefits that cloud computing can enable. In this article, we’ll discuss the problems that technical debt can have for your legacy enterprise IT, and how you can help pay it off by using solutions like containerization.

Learn more about our Application Development & Management as a Service and how our teams can help with technical debt.

How Does Technical Debt Hold You Back?

As the saying goes: “You can pay me now, or pay me later…either way, you’re paying.”  While cutting corners can save you time and effort now, the debt will compound over time and cause you more pain when it comes time to pay the piper.

Just like financial debt can hold you back from achieving your goals—like saving for a down payment for a house or buying a new car—technical debt can restrict your development and operations teams from achieving maximum efficiency and productivity. According to a 2018 study in the journal Science of Computer Programming, large software organizations spend 25 percent of their total development time on managing their technical debt.

There are two main ways that technical debt tends to accumulate in legacy software:

  1. Bit rot: Even without altering the codebase itself, legacy software tends to degrade over time due to external changes and evolutions. For example, the libraries and frameworks an application depends on may no longer be maintained, or they may be updated with new features that deprecate certain functionality.

  3. Technical hacks: In order to keep legacy IT integrated with newer applications and services, certain technical hacks may be required. However, these alterations may only be stopgap measures that aren’t performed sustainably, “gluing on” new functions and features only as necessary.


No matter how it comes about, the consequences of this technical debt are serious, and may include:

  • Falling behind your competitors in a constantly shifting enterprise IT landscape.
  • Paying higher and higher costs over time to maintain your legacy systems.
  • Diverting key teams and employees to work on technical debt, instead of moving the business forward.

Overcoming Technical Debt with Containerization

Paying off technical debt can only be done by refactoring the code or refreshing a legacy application by bringing it into the modern era. The good news is that containerization can help address your technical debt concerns and migrate your legacy IT into the cloud.

Containers are software “units” that bundle up an application’s source code together with the libraries, configurations, and dependencies it requires. By wrapping your software in a container, you can ensure that it runs predictably and reliably, even in very different IT environments.

It’s not hard to see how containers can help with many of the issues and technical debt created by legacy applications. By providing a consistent environment for software to run in, containers avoid many of the problems with aging, deprecated third-party frameworks and platforms that are so common among legacy IT. In particular, .NET applications can easily be containerized using solutions such as Docker.

Once your on-premises legacy IT has been containerized and moved to the cloud, the sky’s the limit in terms of the possibilities. The benefits and advantages of containerization and the cloud include:

  • Improving software quality: Containerization goes hand in hand with methodologies such as DevOps that encourage closer collaboration between developers and IT operations. According to Puppet’s 2016 “State of DevOps” report, high-performing DevOps organizations spend 22 percent less time on unplanned work and rework, and 29 percent more time on adding new features and code.
  • Shortening release cycles: Containers enable faster time to market by letting your employees focus on what they do best: developers on the underlying code base and application logic, operations team members on the tasks of application deployment and management.
  • Greater competitiveness: By shortening your software release cycles, you can bring value faster to your organization. In turn, you can better compete in the dog-eat-dog marketplace against your business rivals.
Learn more about our Containerization Services and how our teams can modernize your legacy IT for the cloud.


Do you have technical debt from your aging on-premises applications? Datavail can help containerize your legacy IT and move it to the cloud. We’ve partnered with hundreds of clients on cloud migration projects for their legacy on-premises applications, including in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. Get in touch with our team of IT experts today for a chat about your business needs and objectives.

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