As seen in eMerge: Disrupting the System
Interview: Our leaders talk challenging the status quo with our unique product and how 8base is revolutionizing the way companies leverage technology to conduct business
Infrastructure technical debt is the worst form of technical debt because everything else is built on top of it. Think of it as a foundation for a building. And with a weak foundation, disaster is just waiting to happen.
This applies to code structure as well. Newer code builds on top of older code. And older code is usually the most problematic because it was created when the project/company started.
At the beginning of a company, everything is a life or death situation, and it is common to see companies cutting corners to stay alive. But in doing so, they just postpone (and magnify) the consequences.
Because now, this technical debt ties into everything else, and its growth cannot be stopped. Even though you stopped cutting corners long ago, the technical debt still keeps growing. Because you often have to make concessions with your new code (even if you don't want to). And you do this so you can integrate new code with the old code.
It is not acceptable at all. It is like asking how much sickness is acceptable in your body. Only one answer can ensure a long and healthy life for you and this hypothetical project. And that answer is none.
Every part of the code and infrastructure does not equally impact the company's future. And having technical debt does not have the same effect on different parts of the system. For example, the choice of programming language has a more significant impact than poorly organized styling code that defines website colors.
Software is like a giant tree. And the problem of one leaf drying up is not the same as a failing root problem.
Here is an example of system areas where technical debt can be observed. They're roughly sorted from least to most important ones in any software project:
Regardless of what choices you make: EVERYTHING ties into the database. And the most extensive and longest-lasting technical debt you can create is when choosing your database solution.
1. SCALING ISSUES
Technical debt doesn't necessarily mean there is something wrong with your code. It can "just" mean your solution is not scalable. So technically, your code is perfect in every way. However, because it failed to anticipate a higher number of users, now you have a broken, useless product.
2. REINVENTING THE WHEEL
As an intelligent business owner that wants to bring a new product to the market, you have to wisely choose your battles. You want to focus your entire energy, specifically the developers' energy, on creating solutions that are unique to your product. And you absolutely must outsource everything else.
Otherwise, you will find yourself in a situation where your competitors catch up with you and quickly overtake you. All because they are not trying to do everything on their own.
3. "UNDER-INVENTING" THE WHEEL
The only thing worse than reinventing the wheel is to do it with substandard quality. And this is totally possible because this "wheel" you created is not your core business. For example, you would do a poor job if you wanted to reinvent the email sender just because you need to send some emails from your app.
You would waste so much time and money on developing this feature and still not do as good of a job as someone else. For example, one of the specialized services whose only product, only business, and total focus is on developing the best email service on the market.
Infrastructure debt is the most critical form of technical debt, and the database is the most important part of the infrastructure. Therefore, database technical debt is absolutely the most crucial thing to watch out for.
If you mess up this part, you will suffer the consequences as long as your project/company exists.
Every project needs a database, but not every project needs to develop its own database solution. Especially when pre-existing solutions will do a much better job than anything else your team can develop on its own.
8base platform is one such database solution that is production-ready out of the box.
1. DEVELOPMENT SPEED
You'll be able to develop things in minutes that would otherwise take your team hours or days to build. For example, you can create database tables through a visual interface in just a couple of clicks, and you're done. All the endpoints are automatically created, and the database is instantly live and ready to use.
No development team in the world can do it faster than an already developed, ready-to-go platform.
On top of being fast to develop, 8base is also automatically scalable. This means the database automatically grows as your business grows. It can support everything from a single user to a million users (and beyond).
And remember, all of this is possible without a single line of code from your side. Your development automatically enjoys all the benefits without any extra work.
In most simple terms: you only pay for what you use. It is an ideal solution for startups that don't have a lot of time and money at their disposal. And also, it's suitable for existing companies with a lot of technical debt looking for an alternative database solution they can migrate to.
And since you just pay as you go, it is a great way to test out the 8base platform without needing heavy investments (neither in time nor capital) from your side.
In conclusion, understanding and eliminating technical debt should be a priority for any company. And the longer you wait, the greater are the consequences. In many cases, it can lead to a complete business failure. All because crucial architectural decisions were made in a rushed and short-sighted manner.