Never underestimate a buzzword’s power to frame the discussion. As I recently discussed, the term bimodal IT has captured the imagination and polemical energy of technology commentators and like many IT discussions in the age of 140-character commentary, it often degenerates into polarized, all-or-nothing positions. Using a variant of the classic reductio ad absurdum strategy, critiques of bimodal IT characterize it as a path to bipolar IT, a separate, but unequal partitioning. In the dynamic mode 2 corner we have hip, swashbuckling cloud gurus mashing together exciting new applications out of myriad cloud services, while in the dingy mode 1 corner we have the conservative old guard serving out their golden years by tending to legacy systems that (ideally) hum along until both they and their caretakers, like all good soldiers, just fade away. While it makes good rhetoric, this isn’t the way successful IT organizations navigate foundational change agents like the cloud.
As the column details, the bimodal model helps to focus IT attention on three areas of transformation:
- New ways of designing, developing and deploying applications and services using cloud services, distributed, fault-tolerant system architecture and agile, DevOps methodologies.
- Business applications amenable to new architectures, iterative feature development and fast release cycles.
- IT skills required to work within the agile/cloud environment and successfully implement the resulting applications and services.
Bimodal partitioning allows IT to locally optimize placement of people, processes and investments for services with very different requirements.
Indeed, the bimodal path to cloud and IT transformation is a reflection of business enlightenment, namely that building and operating data centers is not what they are in business for.