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Why 'bimodal' is the future for IT service delivery

In an increasingly dynamic business world, more and more digital innovations are springing from within the enterprise.

Employees in marketing, sales, logistics and other departments are pushing beyond their traditional job specs to create new digital products and services. This is driving business growth, competitive advantage and improvements in the customer experience.

These types of innovations often move quickly, with limited planning and IT involvement. In such cases, IT decision-makers can be left scrambling to implement safety and accuracy measures, while also needing to keep pace with tight product development and release deadlines.

So how can businesses ensure that their IT infrastructure strikes the right balance? It seems that ‘bimodal IT’ could be a viable approach.

What is bimodal IT?

Since Gartner’s Lydia Leong coined the term in 2014, ‘bimodal IT (opens in new tab)’ has become somewhat of a buzzword. Gartner defines bimodal IT as “the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.”

  • Mode 1 refers to sequential and traditional IT delivery, which places priority on safety and accuracy over speed. Mode 1 generally encompasses back-office applications on which enterprises are built, like databases, for example.
  • Mode 2 service delivery is nonlinear and exploratory, centering on agility and speed. Mode 2 is suited to environments where objectives are less established and more experimental. For example, businesses that launch lots of new products or outward-facing, front-end applications. These types of applications require faster IT turnaround times to get products to market quickly, as well as adequate safety and testing measures to mitigate potential risks.

Gartner found that 45 per cent of CIOs (opens in new tab) have already begun implementing bimodal service delivery, with this number estimated to reach 75 per cent by 2017 (opens in new tab).

How can the cloud support bimodal IT?

There are cloud products on the market that can help businesses deliver ‘Mode 2’, or edge applications, to support a bimodal IT service delivery strategy.

In particular, there are platforms that enable customers to achieve scalability and cost-efficiencies through off-premise public cloud, while keeping core applications and traditional components on private, bare-metal infrastructure.

For businesses, this can result in speedier, cheaper and more flexible performance during peak demand periods. Take, for instance, a start-up or marketing company launching a new product. Without a hosting provider in the middle facilitating operations, they could more quickly and easily manage their business’ scalability. Leading into the launch, they could ramp up their capacity – and post-launch, they could decommission servers.

For ‘Mode 1’, or core IT applications, other methods may be more suited. Many businesses host these applications themselves. Private clouds, based on virtualisation technologies such as VMware, or managed hosting environments can fit more traditional client server architecture and applications.

The future of bimodal IT

Bimodal IT marks a shift away from trying to solve all IT problems with a single solution. Instead, the model emphasises a more flexible way of dealing with two distinct sets of needs.

The success of bimodal IT within an organisation depends very much on an agile cloud solution, paired with a rock solid, reliable platform for traditional apps.

The right blend can propel the rapid creation of new products and services, as well as provide stable and solid management of traditional legacy application – without necessitating a “lift and shift” of every app to the cloud.

Toby Owen, ‎VP Product Management, Peer 1 Hosting (opens in new tab)