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Implementing bimodal IT: Brownfield vs. Greenfield development

As companies look to transform into digital businesses, the demands on the IT department increase. Digital business promises new revenue and changes the nature of the relationship between the business and IT. To cope with this shift, many CIOs are restructuring their IT departments into two units: one focused on "keeping the lights on" and the other focused on experimentation and speed to drive business goals.

In this webcast presentation, Kurt Marko, analyst at MarkoInsights, describes the characteristics of modes 1 and 2 of bimodal IT. Read on to learn about implementing bimodal IT: how the two modes differ and what role cloud services can play with Mode 1 applications.

Editor's note: The following is a transcript of the second of four excerpts of Marko's webcast presentation on bimodal IT. It has been edited for clarity and length.

Bimodal does not mean bipolar or schizophrenic. It's not an either/or choice. You're not an IT organization that is Mode 1 or a Mode 2, that if I had this Mode 2, rapid DevOps, risk-taking IT, that means that it's a new era. And Mode 1, everybody that's in Mode 1 is out of a job, there's a new sheriff in town. That's not it at all. And to reiterate, IT isn't just transforming into this Wild West of cloud startups.

All it means is that bimodal is going to encourage at least some degree of that risk-taking and experimental attitude within your IT organization. It doesn't mean that the traditional operational, and stable, reliable IT is dead and gone.

It doesn't mean that the traditional operational, and stable, reliable IT is dead and gone ... Bimodal IT also doesn't mean just moving everything to the cloud.
Kurt Markoanalyst, MarkoInsights

Implementing bimodal IT also doesn't mean just moving everything to the cloud. First off, the cloud isn't going to solve your problems. And even as we'll discuss, not every Mode 2 application or service will end up living in the cloud in perpetuity. And it also doesn't mean that just because something is in the cloud, that you have a business service that is in the cloud, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a Mode 2 type activity.

So here, I've alluded to these already, but for completeness, we'll go through some of the characteristics of Mode 1 and Mode 2. As I said, Mode 1 is often legacy, mission-critical, stable, like what used to be mainframe environments, what is still mainframe in many organizations, client server, the stuff we're all familiar with.

See other excerpts from this webcast presentation on implementing bimodal IT.

Part 1: Bimodal IT strategy explained.

Part 3: Two-speed IT: Myths vs. facts.

Part 4: Bimodal IT takeaways.

Implementing bimodal IT: The two modes

Distinct traits of Mode 2 of two-speed IT

Mode 2 is often greenfield development, risk-tolerant, uncertain, and it often includes new development methodologies, and those are usually targeted with business experiments, maybe new forms of application design, new application patterns, new markets that are both where the customers themselves are maybe unknown and the competitors are unknown.

Market sizes, customer base, usages, all of those things, you may go in to a Mode 2 project without clear answers to any of those things. And far from being a reason not to do it, those are really the prime drivers of why you want to do those sorts of IT things in a different way.

Distinct traits of Mode 1 of two-speed IT

Diving a little deeper, here are some of the characteristics of a Mode 1 environment, and again this is probably in the charter statement of most of the CIOs listening to this, but you want stable, reliable, available, secure. It's not a lot of changes. Changes have to be introduced very cautiously. You're running on very mature, bulletproof systems. Often the application development process itself is more focused on maintenance and security fixes and bug fixes than over introducing a lot of new features and services.

This last one gets to the cloud discussion, but Mode 1 applications may or may not be virtualized or ready for the cloud. Often, perhaps most often, they're not. They're mainframe. They're the traditional client server: one app, one server.

But Mode 1 doesn't mean that they can't ever run in the cloud, and it may be advisable to run many of these applications in a cloud-like environment, whether that's a shared cloud like AWS or as your public cloud, or probably more likely a private or hybrid environment where you build a cloud-like environment on-site, with something like the recently announced Azure Stack from Microsoft, from Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, there's many to choose from, dCloud. So, often the applications are not cloud or cloud-ready, but that doesn't mean they can't move there over time.

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