6 Reasons Bimodal IT Is Wrong For You

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Bimodal IT is supposed to stabilize critical systems and bring innovation to others. But there are consequences to dividing the IT house -- consequences that most companies don't need.

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Gartner unleashed a new label on the world of enterprise IT --  Bimodal IT. And the research firm defined it like this:

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. Bimodal IT is the only sustainable solution for businesses in an increasingly disruptive digital world.

Some companies eagerly embraced bimodal IT as a way of "having their cake and eating it, too." These organizations were happy to let "non-essential" systems showcase agility and innovation while they left their legacy systems untouched in the data center. It's a system that is perfect for staying comfortable. The thing is, it's a system that's much less than perfect for staying competitive.

Thousands of words have been written both attacking and in defense of bimodal IT. I can't say that I've read them all, but I've read many of them and I'm far more convinced by the arguments of those who are skeptical of bimodal's benefits. Looking around at the arguments, I think the strongest boil down to six points, any one of which should be enough to give an IT manager pause.

[See Agile Vs. DevOps: 10 Ways They're Different.]

Now, it's important to say that many of the characteristics bimodal IT promotes are virtues. Critical systems must, in fact, be stable and reliable. Customer-facing systems should be able to react to customer demand quickly. The problems arise when you say, essentially, that the two characteristics are mutually exclusive and demand different systems in support.

So, here are six reasons to stop and give serious thought to your plans before you embrace bimodal IT. I'm curious about your thoughts, though. Do you agree with Gartner that bimodal IT is the only sustainable model for a fast-paced world? Is your experience that agile development and mainframes go together like sushi and chocolate pudding? Let me know what you think -- and whether you agree with the six reasons to leave bimodal behind.

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