Rackspace panel debate on bimodal IT: new buzz or old fuzz?

Managed cloud company Rackspace gathered the great and the good from the London media-focused tech scene once more this month to congregate, postulate and ruminate over the future for so-called bimodal IT.

Delegates came in from Rackspace itself (Simon Crawley-Trice), Capgemini (Paul Pogonoski), ghd the hair company (Spencer Hudson) and Cloud Technology Partners (Bernard Drost).

Defined as an approach that answers an enterprise’s need for both stable and agile IT systems. The term was coined by IT consultancy Gartner Inc., which defines the two tiers as follows:

“Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasising agility and speed.”

The problem with bimodal IT

The problem with bimodal IT is that it has been over-talked. The problem with bimodal IT is that it has been over-hyped. The problem with bimodal IT is that it has been over-branded by Gartner itself. The problem with bimodal IT is that it has been overtalked. The problem with bimodal IT is that it has been going on (to some degree) in many organisations without it needing this fuzzy label.

So is bimodal IT just fuzz, or is there any new buzz to be had?

Fuzz or buzz?

Spencer Hudson of ghd started off the debate by noting that, as a person with dyslexia and with an autistic daughter, he is attracted to the way this practice creates a very deliberate action to perform the specific exploratory actions seen in mode 2 of bimodal IT.

“This is partly because the management teams we work with every day often struggle with the actual way they should leverage IT in the business,” said Hudson.

Simon Crawley-Trice of Rackspace explained his firm’s move to work with OpenStack and how his team had really needed to develop a whole new skillset to bring this technology into being.

“We are seeing customers demanding different platforms from us and looking to deploy hybrid transformative platforms that require an inherently Agile approach — and so this is bimodal IT in practice actually happening within working cloud computing deployment scenarios,” said Crawley-Trice.

Thin wedge, flaky integration?

Looking deeper here, Capgemini’s Pogonski talked about the democratisation of IT and the way companies are using the freedoms offered by cloud to start new bimodal projects and, where necessary, use temporary infrastructure more easily. In the digital age where some applications will only last two or three years as opposed to the one or two decades that they used to makes this okay i.e. perhaps less of an integration headache.

“It’s the thin end a the wedge as a business starts to look to tap new channels,” he said.

Rackspace’s Crawley-Trice also spoke about the way it is working with particular vendors — Metro Bank being a good example — this is a company still working to open a large number of high street branches and build itself out at the infrastructure level. “So this means Metro is still very focused on Mode 1 of bimodal IT,” he said.

So for those firms who do take a bimodal approach and grasp the thin end of the wedge and start to create new projects, they do they create an integration headache with a technology systems that are essentially fragmented and poorly structured from base zero?

Capgemini’s Pogonski argues that this is not necessarily the case and that use of intelligently crafted microservices along with a the new more granular approach to software application development can help. But is this played out in the real world and do customers come to Rackspace as the managed cloud company that it is with a nicely componentised approach?

“Well, our DevOps department has never been busier, so we’re spending an awful lot of time of bringing the mechanics of customers applications together,” said Rackspace’s Crawley-Trice.

Buzz or fuzz?

Did this event break any new ground? Yes the panel tried hard with an awareness that this subject has been over-circulated very circuitously… and, as panel chairman and technology analyst Jon Collins put it — the reason we are still talking about bimodal IT is that we’re still not doing some things right.

Open discussion must, clearly, continue.