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MSP opportunities

Technical debt is defined by fixes to known software issues that have not been addressed. And it is reaching an unsustainable level.

A survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based architecture, development, and engineering leaders and practitioners finds more than three-quarters (77 percent) work for organizations that have implemented enterprise-wide initiatives to address technical debt. More than half (51 percent) report their organization dedicates more than a quarter of their annual IT and engineering budgets to remediation efforts.

Not every organization is deploying custom software. Among those that do, there is a tendency to deploy applications to fix. For example, known vulnerabilities via a future update. Unfortunately, developers often receive assignments for new projects, diverting their attention from building that application. There never seems to be enough time to address known issues that impact everything from performance to cybersecurity.

Leveraging AI for technical debt management

Naturally, technical debt creates an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) to help fill the gap. With the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), it’s becoming simpler to both analyze code and generate the necessary patches needed to remediate an issue without the aid of the original application development team being required. It’s never been easier to reverse-engineer the code used to build any application.

No one knows for sure just how much technical debt there is. Servicing consumes IT resources that could be better allocated to building more applications. The IT leaders of every organization assume they will be able to manage technical debt. Still, almost invariably, it builds up to a point where organizations lack the resources required to manage it. Application developers are also among the most expensive resources an organization that builds custom software is likely to have. Every minute spent fixing legacy applications is one less minute that could be allocated to driving innovation.

Empowering organizations: The role of MSPs

Organizations of all sizes have never been more dependent on software. Yet, the processes used to build and maintain applications are still largely manual. MSPs with application development and deployment expertise are needed to write code, test software, deploy updates, remediate vulnerabilities, and monitor applications after they are deployed as part of a set of managed DevSecOps services. An MSP can opt to provide all those services or specialize in a subset.

Regardless of the approach, there is no shortage of opportunities. They will only increase as it becomes easier to build applications using, for example, no-code and low-code tools. As more organizations build and deploy applications, however, the more likely it becomes in time, they will be unable to manage the technical debt they create.

The challenge and the opportunity for MSPs is to acquire the skills and resources needed to service all that technical debt in a way that allows organizations to focus more of their time enjoying the benefits of applications rather than eventually becoming slaves to maintaining them.

Photo: sommart sombutwanitkul / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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