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What Is Bimodal IT? | @DevOpsSummit #Agile #DevOps #DigitalTransformation

What does Bimodal IT mean in theory and in practice, and what are the arguments for and against?

What Is Bimodal IT?
By Courtney Glymph

Gartner's concept of Bimodal IT argues that for successful digital transformation, IT needs to split into two parts: mode 1 for maintaining and modernizing traditional back-end IT services and mode 2 for agility in building front-end, digital apps. This allows IT to respond to the digital divide emerging in their organizations by operating in two coherent but deeply different modes.

With DevOps changing the way digital apps are built, traditional "waterfall" methodologies look clunky and outdated. However, rather than making old-school, stable development lifecycles extinct, it seems Gartner believes there is a need to separate and specialize teams dealing with different modes of apps, to both protect waterfall methodologies and allow DevOps to flourish.

Bimodal in Practice
In real terms, bimodal means that CIOs have been encouraged to keep their core legacy systems rather than ripping and replacing them. This naturally engenders the development of mode 1 teams concentrating on maintaining stability. Meanwhile mode 2 teams are free to focus on experimental and exploratory work - innovative projects that keep the company ahead of their competition in today's digital marketplace.

The term Bimodal IT was quickly adopted throughout the industry and fervently discussed from a variety of angles. While it has captured the imaginations (and wallets!) of some CIOs, many industry experts and analysts have questioned how well cultivating a two-tier IT department works in reality. It's critical to understand this counter-argument before choosing whether to adopt Bimodal IT in your organization.

The Backlash
Some feel that differentiating between mode 1 and mode 2 creates silos - an "us vs. them" attitude within IT that is the antithesis of DevOps - while making mode 1 teams seem old-fashioned and undesirable to work in.

This is a view shared by Jez Humble, Deputy Director of Delivery Architecture and Infrastructure Services at the US government's General Services Administration agency, and a big influence in the DevOps space. Humble notoriously wrote a blog called "The Flaw At The Heart of Bimodal IT" in which he calls the theory "reductionist" and states: "Gartner's work on Bimodal provides valuable advice on how to kick-start an enterprise digital transformation. But leaders wishing to create a significant, lasting impact on IT performance should look to move beyond the Bimodal paradigm in the space of months rather than years."

While Gartner's Bimodal IT concept might have benefits and could make sense for enterprise CIOs, successful practice of it successfully depends on how literally organizations choose to interpret Gartner's guidance and how much time, energy and effort they have to make this strategy successful.

How Automation Can Help
According to Automic ARA evangelist Scott Willson
: "Automation and orchestration at enterprise scale will accelerate your traditional mode 1 deployments and ensure a greater degree of compliance - and lower risk - to more nimble mode 2 deployments." Where data from mode 1 apps is needed for use in mode 2 apps, for instance using Siebel CRM data for a clothes retailer's mobile app, automated integrations can help to bring Siebel into the Continuous Delivery pipeline.

What do you think? Can two distinct teams coexist or should both teams work together? Do you run a Bimodal department? We'd like to hear from you!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Automic Blog

Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things.

With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at www.automic.com.

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