Gartner defines BiModal IT as an organizational model that segments IT services into two categories based on application requirements, maturity and criticality. “Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed.” A recent Forbes article also highlighted the differences.
Now what does this all mean to IT. There are 4 impacts IT needs to consider.
a) Applications in mode 2 are more agile, likely built with microservices and running in cloud, mostly public clouds. They will also be web scale and likely supporting the mobile apps or big data analytic workloads. IT needs to enable back end infrastructure to support such applications and services and must be willing to work out solutions both on-prem or in public clouds. For example, microservices will be delivered through containers such as Docker, and hence IT should focus on preparing for the latest technologies for building these infrastructures to help application developers and operations teams to deploy these apps. Some of these technologies can range from a simple cluster of Docker hosts being managed as a cluster through a Cloud Management product (CMP) like BMC CLM to more complex cluster managers and schedulers such as Google’s Kubernetes or even datacenter operating systems like Mesos. These are the next generation infrastructures needed for running cloud applications and IT should be able to be proficient in these as well as be able to manage this infrastructure efficiently.
b) Rate of change of these apps is going to be much higher than the traditional 6-12 month delivery cycle for legacy apps. The apps team needs to implement a DevOps pipeline that allows quick release of application through build, test and deploy stages. IT should get out of the way of apps team and also provide API based services that can be called from DevOps pipelines such as security services that they wish to enforce. IT must also provide API based environments to be created and destroyed in public or on-prem private clouds, and IT should enable this instead of being a roadblock. Even shadow IT is alright. If there are minimalistic policies on security and compliance on the applications or infrastructure, these should be provided by IT as a API based service. For example, if IT requires security compliance to check for vulnerabilities in Docker container, IT must provide an API based security compliance as a service.
c) Application updates with creative ootb deployment strategies in production. Application changes have to be pushed into production using modern techniques such as blue-green deployment models that is quite extensively used by companies like Netflix on AWS or a rolling deployment update model as well. Both are based on the common theme that application releases have newer versions being deployed together with existing versions, and they need to be validated by releasing some traffic to the newer version, verifying them in production, and then switching gradually to the newer version of the application. DevOps tools must support much of these deployment orchestration to production.
d) Less governance and control. Although some minimal viable governance is certainly needed for even the new agile IT, the level and evaluation of governance differs from mode 1. In mode 1, governance is stringent and rigid and is based on approvals and change control boards. We loosen this a bit in mode 2, the new agile way. Instead the governance is based on permissions and s built into the Devops process itself, such as basic compliance and vulnerability testing of applications is a part of the DevOps pipeline itself.
By adapting to this new mode 2 agile IT, IT and application development teams can achieve the goals of building and delivering new applications faster. IT products such as cloud management tools, DevOps tools, deployment tools, configuration management tools, compliance, patching and monitoring tools need to adjust to ensure that both mode 1 and mode 2 are supported based on the use cases and type of application these tools are supporting.