Bimodal IT Encourages an Agile Response From CIOs

By Guest Author  |  Posted 03-24-2015 Print Email

The idea of bimodal IT allows a quick-deploy team to react to customer needs while also ensuring the enterprise continues to hum along.

By Patrick K. Burke

You might be familiar with the term “bimodal IT.” Then again, you might not, because it had a different name not all that long ago.

IT certainly likes its buzzwords, acronyms and services (backend as a service, anyone?) almost as much as it likes changing the names of these services and buzzwords.

Remember utility computing? Out, replaced in name by on-demand computing, software as a service and, to some extent, cloud computing.

Terms come and go in IT, and, in keeping with this thought, “bimodal IT” was very recently referred to as “two-speed IT.” But two-speed IT had a very short lifespan, for several reasons.

For starters, “two” of anything simply isn’t enough in today’s overly complicated, highly connected world. If you have software or a service that has a business or enterprise functionality, and it has “two speeds” in its name, that’s simply not enough. Even though, in reality, two-speed IT was more than a simple on-off switch, but its name didn’t lend itself to having the potential for great accomplishments.

Enter bimodal IT. Adios two-speed IT.

Bimodal IT is the idea of two distinct IT methodologies existing in the same organization. These are sometimes provisioned into two separate teams.

The agile IT team helms the immediate needs of the business, while traditional IT continues handling the day-to-day work of making certain apps are running, email is sending, etc.

The bimodal part comes into play with the agile team rolling out current updates, changes and evolving technologies, while traditional IT develops the long-term initiatives, manages budgets and takes a cautious approach to deployments.

Agile IT must be constantly ready for change and able to adapt to the ever-changing IT landscape. The emphasis here is on quick, not perfect, such as a mobile app that needs to reach customers within a few weeks.

Traditional IT includes certain sets of systems and teams that focus on reliability.

“One size doesn’t fit all, and there are certain opportunities you’ll miss if you aren’t agile,” said Ed Anuff, vice president of product strategy at Apigee, a company that offers a platform that assists organizations with scale, agility and traditional reliability.

Anuff emphasized the importance of combining enterprise systems of record stored within traditional databases with data that’s out on the edge in an agile environment, say, for instance, on a construction site.

In today’s fast-paced business world, a safe connection point is needed between traditional records and real-time data, and Anuff stressed how combining these can drive revenue and save costs. For example, the knowledge of employee resources, inventory and sensor data embedded in curing concrete at a construction site can communicate within a mobile app and suggest how to get a crew on site at the right time and with the proper materials.

The idea of bimodal IT allows a quick-deploy team to react to customer needs while also formulating strategy and ensuring systems are secure, goals are met and the enterprise continues to hum along. 

That’s just my two cents.

Patrick K. Burke is senior editor of CIO Insight.


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