Bimodal IT and Remodeling Traditional IT for Greater Agility

IT organizations need to support both traditional and agile modes of IT solution delivery and operation in order to make wise choices about infrastructure, process, people, and tools. Much attention has been given and rightfully so to the disruptive and innovative “Mode 2” teams building on the practices established by web-scale giants like Amazon, and Google. However, in enterprises there still exists a sprawling majority of “Mode 1”, traditional, industrialized applications run by teams that have to concentrate on risk aversion, security and compliance. While these will likely not match the innovative velocity of agile IT teams and applications, traditional IT teams are still under pressure to acquire faster, more agile, innovative, productive and cost-efficient. Yet, the Mode 2 playbook can’t be applied wholesale to Mode 1 transformation work because it often assumes a greenfield situation–kind of like a new residence construction. By contrast, Mode 1 modernization is more like renovating an existing home that must proceed in steps that address the present realities of applications, legacy infrastructure, business mandates, organizational interactions, and technical skills.Image result for Enterprise IT

Understanding bimodal IT And teams that are traditional in their focus, and those that are agile.

“Traditional IT is focused on “doing IT right”, with a strong emphasis on efficiency and safety, approval-based governance and price-for-performance. Agile IT is focused on “doing IT fast”, supporting prototyping and iterative development, rapid delivery, continuous and process-based governance, and value to the business (being business-centric and near the customer).”

The reason that Gartner promotes the Concept of Bimodal IT to CIO’s is To help them see that it can be dangerous trying to optimize processes, human resources, infrastructure, and tools to cover such unique modes, and because of this, optimizing to neither. Rather, the right move according Gartner is to allow agile teams room to come up with a completely new set of capabilities that can then help transform the entire organization. Lydia continues in her blog:

Two modes of IT — with unique people, processes, and tools supporting each. You are able to make traditional IT more agile — but you cannot simply add a little agility to it to get full-on agile IT. Rather, that requires fundamental transformation. At some point in time, the agile IT mode gets strategic and begins to modernize and transform the rest of IT, but it’s actually fantastic to permit the agile-mode team to discover transformative new approaches without being burdened by the existing legacy.”

Traditional IT and Agile IT are different in Several of ways. Perhaps an effective approach to explain the distinction is to picture what these applications and teams look like.

The classic agile IT initiative in the enterprise is around a mobile, E-commerce or web-centric application that is aimed at moving into new Markets, improving engagement with new customer segments, or disrupting a Current market. The application is fully virtualized, and the Preferred infrastructure is a public cloud such as AWS. The team is conceived as a unified, DevOps team of line of business product managers, developers, testers, and operations folks working collaboratively on an agile development methodology. Automation is built deeply into the process, with infrastructure as code tools used to Manage public cloud virtual machines and related infrastructure components via well-documented RESTful API’s, plus other DevOps toolchain elements automating and managing most processes, including Continuous integration, continuous shipping and continuous deployment of code into production.