Tech Debt Burndown Podcast Series 1 E10: Eoin Woods

Posted on Saturday, Jun 12, 2021
Eoin Woods has developed quite a bit of software, and created and dealt with quite a lot of technical debt. He is CTO at Endava, and co-author of two software architecture books. On the Tech Debt Burndown he joins Chris and Nick to talk about his role in the International Conference on Technical Debt and some of the research highlighted in the virtual 2021 edition of that conference, as well as his own personal experiences in the field.

Show Notes

Recording date: May 25, 2021

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“There’s sometimes an assumption that people in the business of building systems all the time implicitly understand tech debt. I think they definitely don’t.” - Eoin Woods

After intros we ask Eoin about the International Conference on Technical Debt, which recently had its 4th annual event. Eoin was a keynote speaker at the first conference, and has stayed involved since.

Eoin goes on to explain that the academic community have found ways to collect data on tech debt that have evaded many practitioners, which has brought fresh insights onto the problems and how they might be addressed.

Nick asks about the Preventing Technical Debt by Technical Debt Aware Project Management paper from Hamburg and whether “can it be this easy?"; and Eoin replies that in the SEI book on Managing Technical Debt, “it’s one of the key practices”.

After a spot of collective JIRA bashing, Nick asks Eoin about the Security Debt: Characteristics, Product Life-Cycle Integrations and Items paper, describing it as “fully buzzword compliant, talking about shift left and everything like that”. Eoin observes that security related tech debt gets special treatment, “it’s rather more urgent to fix, because you may not understand all the possible implications of it”. He goes on to say that security has become more popular as a topic at conferences over the last 10 years or so.

Chris asks Eoin for one of his favourite examples of tech debt from the past, which leads to a description of an old Unix transaction processing monitor, and a giant C/C++ code base that grew around it. He talks about a colleague making good progress, but the sense that they weren’t actually winning.

Eoin then talks a little about lessons from his book Continuous Architecture in Practice, and goes on to describe how people often get stuck on a data model that’s not quite working.

Chris then asks Eoin about practices he’s currently using to handle tech debt, which leads to “It very much depends on the environment, I think the key thing that we try and encourage everyone to do is to make sure that you’re running enough analysis on your code regularly, that you can spot trends and changes.”

We conclude with a promise to link to Eoin’s book on Software Systems Architecture that he co-authored with Nick Rozanski, so there it is.


Eoin Woods

Eoin Woods

Eoin Woods is CTO at Endava, where he guides technical strategy, oversees capability development and directs investment in emerging technologies. Eoin is co-author of two software architecture books (Software Systems Architecture and Continuous Architecture in Practice) and is a regular conference speaker, with a particular interest in software architecture, DevOps and computer security. He has created and suffered more technical debt over the years than he likes to admit.


Chris Swan

Chris Swan

Chris is a frequent speaker on topics such as serverless, DevOps, cloud, containers, security, networking and the Internet of Things. He’s also a cloud editor for InfoQ and a contributor to open source projects such as Docker, CoreOS and DXC’s Online DevOps Dojo.

Nick Selby

Nick Selby

Nick is Vice President of Assurance at Trail of Bits. He was formerly Chief Security Officer at a financial technology firm. Prior to that he was Director of Cyber Intelligence and Investigations at the New York Police Department. He is co-author of many books, including Cyber Attack Survival Manual; In Context: Understanding Police Killings of Unarmed Civilians and Blackhatonomics: An Inside Look at the Economics of Cybercrime.