6 Reasons Bimodal IT Is Wrong For You - InformationWeek
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9/21/2016
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6 Reasons Bimodal IT Is Wrong For You

Bimodal IT is supposed to stabilize critical systems and bring innovation to others. But there are consequences to dividing the IT house -- ones most companies don't need.
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(Image: Nastco/iStockphoto)

(Image: Nastco/iStockphoto)

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Gartner unleashed a new label on the world of enterprise IT --  Bimodal IT. The research firm defined it like this:

Bimodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed. Bimodal IT is the only sustainable solution for businesses in an increasingly disruptive digital world.

Some companies eagerly embraced bimodal IT as a way of having their cake and eating it, too. These organizations were happy to let non-essential systems showcase agility and innovation while they left their legacy systems untouched in the data center. It's a system that is perfect for staying comfortable. The thing is, it's a system that's much less than perfect for staying competitive.

Thousands of words have been written both attacking and in defense of bimodal IT. I can't say that I've read them all, but I've read many of them, and I'm far more convinced by the arguments of those who are skeptical of bimodal's benefits.

Looking around at the arguments, I think the strongest ones boil down to six points, any one of which should be enough to give an IT manager pause.

[See Agile vs. DevOps: 10 Ways They're Different.]

Now, it's important to say that many of the characteristics bimodal IT promotes are virtues. Critical systems must, in fact, be stable and reliable. Customer-facing systems should be able to react to customer demand quickly. Problems arise when you say, essentially, that the two characteristics are mutually exclusive and demand different systems in support.

So, here are six reasons to stop and give serious thought to your plans before you embrace bimodal IT. I'm curious about your thoughts, though. Do you agree with Gartner that bimodal IT is the only sustainable model for a fast-paced world?

Is your experience that agile development and mainframes go together like sushi and chocolate pudding? Let me know what you think -- and whether you agree with the six reasons to leave bimodal behind.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is executive editor for technical content at InformationWeek. In this role he oversees product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he acts as executive producer for InformationWeek Radio and Interop Radio where he works with ... View Full Bio

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Christopher O'Malley
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Christopher O'Malley,
User Rank: Strategist
9/23/2016 | 9:11:26 AM
Excellent article that gets to the essence of the outrageously bad idea that is Bimodal IT.
Great artcile Curtis!

In digital age, competitive advantage is gained by relentlessly pursuing worthy ideas that matter to customers and rapidly turning into deliverables that make a difference, continuously.  The journey of continuous improvement does not pass through silo'd organizations, conflicted priorities/processes/tools/cultures and added complexity.

Mainframe silos, which hold invaluable and irreplaceable intellectual property, must be broken down & assimilated into an inspired, innovative culture, adopt low-friction agile processes & leverage a state-of-the-art DevOps toolchain on "mainstreamed" mainframe code and data. 

For 40+ years, Compuware has held a strong reputation for quality leadership in mainframe software tools. Two years ago, the decision was made to fully embrace Agile and DevOps methods on the mainframe to reinvent the future of mainframe development.  Since then, we've delivered an unprecedented eight consecutive quarters of new capabilities, updates to classic offerings and integrations with state-of-the-art DevOps tools. Compuware has delivered more worthy innovation in the last two years than our competitors have delivered in the last five years combined. As some examples of our relentless efforts in removing bottlenecks and improving DevOps throughput: Compuware, over the last two years,
  • has doubled the amount of code delivered per developer;
  • reduced deployment time by 2/3;
  • improved on quality of deliverables; and
  • achieved these results while onboarding 27 new developers with little-to-no mainframe experience.

This isn't some parlor trick. Just a gritty bunch in Detroit willing to take on the challenge of learning to learn and willing to embrace disciplined transformational change.

Bimodal IT or Multi-Speed IT as IBM uses to peddle this outrageously bad idea is a cop-out for poor leadership with Gartner paid to play the role of the enabler. Competing in the digital age has no place for confusion and conflicted behaviors when advantage is gained in velocity of worthy innovation delivered to customers with ever increasing expectations.

I love Damon Edwards, Co-Founder DTO Solutions, perspective on Bimodal IT.

"Bimodal IT describes the broken current state in which we are already living. Bimodal IT describes the problem & not the solution."

"Anyone with actual hands-on experience in the enterprise knows that systems-of-engagement & systems-of-record divide is both arbitrary & falls apart in any view under the 10,000-foot level. Systems-of-engagement are useless without the systems-of-record. The value in systems-of-record can't be realized without systems-of-engagement. In reality, it is all one system."

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