It is Bimodal, but in a Different Manner

April 12, 2016 — Posted by Israel Gat

Gartner’s view of IT has for the past few years been focused on what Gartner considers essential bimodality. To quote the company: “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.” 

In a recent blog post entitled The Flaw at the Heart of Bimodal IT, colleague Jez Humble brings up some hard questions about the viability of the Bimodal IT model: “There are three serious problems with the Bimodal model which, when taken together, mean that leaders that fail to move beyond Gartner’s advice will end up falling further and further behind the competition… The first problem is that the model is overly reductionist.… The second flaw in the Bimodal model is that those fast-moving user-facing services are almost always coupled to systems of record.… Finally, and most important of all, Gartner’s model rests on a false assumption that is still pervasive in our industry: that we must trade off responsiveness against reliability.” 

While Jez, as usual, is very astute, I would like to propose supplementing his view by looking at bimodality through organizational lenses. The fundamental factor I witness in most of my engagements is that for most practical purposes the traditional IT organization is being split into two parts:

1. IaaS and PaaS type functions continue to be carried out by “IT.”

2. Applications, primarily in the form of SaaS applications, migrate to the business units. 

If you are a CIO in charge of a traditional IT department, my recommendation to you is to follow one of the following two courses of action:

1. If your heart is in providing infrastructure services, ask yourself what value you can provide in an organizational entity devoid of applications. The answer might be as straightforward as “cloud brokering services,” but you have to have such an answer thought through.

2. If your heart is with a certain class of applications, move on to the business unit that will own these applications.

While I witness various clients hedging on the subject, my recommendation is straightforward: choose just one of the two. Hedging is not a viable long-terms strategy anymore.

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About the author | Israel Gat

Dr. Gat’s executive career spans top technology companies, he has led the development of products enabling companies to move toward next-generation system management technology. Dr. Gat is also well versed in growing smaller companies and has held advisory and venture capital positions for companies in new, high-growth markets. He was presented with an Innovator of the Year Award from Application Development Trends in 2006. Dr. Gat focuses his consulting and writing on technical debt, large-scale implementations of lean software methods and agile business service management (“devops”).



        

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