There is a Gartner concept called Bimodal IT which is the idea that most customer datacenters are run with two different standards.
There are the traditional systems that are running the core applications which general drive the business. These applications and systems are robust and provide the critical enterprise services for the business. Changes are generally well thought out, tested and designed to make these systems more reliable, more manageable with perhaps a reduction in cost through greater efficiencies. One can think of applications such as SAP and our own financial service payment applications that drive the business. These are the core applications and they are run carefully and predictably. The company depends on them. These systems are an important and critical component of any datacenter. NonStop clearly plays in this area.
The second area is the innovation arm of the datacenter. Here the focus is on speed. To survive in today’s climate businesses need to be innovative, agile and fast to market to keep ahead of or at least up with their competitors. Time to market drives agile development which uses sprints to deliver capabilities quickly. New ideas are composed in the datacenter on cloud environments – quickly stood up and just as quickly torn down. It is opportunity focused and the idea is to either succeed or fail quickly. Speed is everything.
You will likely see presentations and articles bemoaning the cost of ‘keeping the lights on’ by which they are referring to traditional IT. There are many ideas on how to cut traditional to a small percentage so that most of the IT budget can be spent on the exciting and ever changing innovation style of IT. For Pareto fans, numerous articles attribute 80% of the budget to traditional when the ideal ratio should be 80% to innovation, according to the experts. For me these create great articles but bad datacenter budget ratios. Companies need both foundational, reliable systems along with an ability to stay up with or exceed the market. Neither should be the underdog concerning IT budgets. The traditional applications can be depended upon to ‘pay the bills’ for the most part. The innovation portion needs to be able to grow the business and turn a profit.
Although I’ve never seen it noted, a successful innovation should turn into a standard for the business and as such migrate to the traditional side of the datacenter. There should be a balance within IT where successful innovations to the business migrate to the traditional side where efficiencies, standards and cost reductions are applied to that innovation. All truly successful innovations should become foundational IT systems. I’ve never seen that as a goal within agile development but a successful IT project should deliver business benefits for many years.
NonStop can certainly play on the agile side of the datacenter and for projects that look like they will be successful, which is profitable for the business, why not develop and release the project on a platform that is foundational to the traditional side of the datacenter? Wouldn’t you want a successful innovation to be always available with no scalability limits? One that was based on a secure platform delivering unmatched data integrity? And once running wouldn’t you like to take advantage of it for as long as it continues to provide business benefits?
Bimodal IT is a balancing act in terms of budget but remember successful innovation becomes traditional and should be developed with that in mind.