Disruption Day: IT’s Two Modes of Modern Combat
We’ve talked a great deal about the ‘third platform’ of IT with our customers, an aspirational point in our infrastructure when we have the ability to deliver hyper-scale, web-powered applications for millions of users – whether those ‘users’ are people or smart devices. It’s an ongoing journey for many, and last year Gartner coined a phrase to describe the scenario customers face when they end up with both third platform (web-scale; PaaS / Hadoop) and second platform (more traditional client-server) technologies in the same environment: the age of ‘bimodal IT’.
Gartner defines Bimodal IT as:
“Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information- and technology-intensive services in its own way. Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed.”
1 Gartner IT Glossary, Bimodal IT, http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/bimodal
The definition is clever in its vagueness; it talks to the presence of an innovation track irrespective of whatever your ‘core’ technology platform is, and so plays to a future point of fourth, fifth and sixth platforms as technology continues to evolve.
But in today’s context, the first ‘mode’ of IT is how most traditional large applications are handled in the enterprise: Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Exchange etc., and the second mode handles some of the new analytics and web based apps that are emerging. The first mode is causing some frustration in the enterprise as it lacks the agility and hyper-scale needed by developers for modern customer requirements, so they are turning to public cloud provisioning at significant cost and in some cases, with even more significant risks.
This creates three challenges that the enterprise needs to engage with as they pursue their own transformation programmes to equip themselves for bimodal IT.
- Choosing which platform you develop each new application for: Not every application needs hyper-scale, and indeed not every application needs to be hyper-agile. A new assessment framework within corporate IT will help developers choose the right platform for their applications as they develop and deploy them. And corporate IT needs to deliver either resource as flexibly as a public cloud provider would.
- Choosing which applications to redevelop: In assessing your application context, you will find that some applications would benefit from a ‘mode transfer,’ and therefore need re-engineering. Assessing which of these should be prioritized to deliver maximum organizational (and end user) benefit along with which capabilities should be prioritized for migration or be deprecated, will be important and necessary parts of the process.
- Planning the journey from an unstructured bimodal context to a defined one: Most organizations, whether they’ve planned it or not, are functioning in a bi-modal context. It’s just that hosting and managing the innovation track has tended to be “outsourced” to a series of public cloud providers, potentially putting organizational data at risk, and almost always putting it beyond the direct orchestration and control of the business. Developing an overall plan to move from this chaotic context to one about choosing resources strategically in a trackable and managed way, needs careful consideration.
Point three is crucial, as without a carefully orchestrated plan, organizations tend to get stuck in the ‘timid middle’ – having technology capable of both but not really operating effectively in either, as users get frustrated and begin to avoid corporate IT as a whole.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little more about how to escape the timid middle and help smooth the journey to a bi-modal IT context that we’re helping our customers with across EMEA.