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Trending on #bimodalIT and its ripple effects

Bimodal IT doesn't rely on just one coding construct, one IT operations tool or one platform. The shift to treating applications in entirely different ways is a mix of cultural and technological advancement.

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The term bimodal IT refers to a dichotomy of applications in enterprise IT infrastructures: the new, agile, distributed and often customer-facing applications in one corner, and the legacy applications with monolithic structures and typically business productivity functions in the other corner.

Rather than fighting out over which style of application operations is best, IT teams can split into a bimodal structure where apps are supported and maintained in the manner that best suits them.

Analyst firm Gartner created the term bimodal IT. Since then, it has generated interest, dissention and expert takes on the best way to define bimodal IT, adopt it as a methodology and structure IT resources to exploit it. Industry experts from various hardware and software vendors recently took to Twitter with the hashtag #bimodalIT to offer their advice. 

Tony MacDonald, sales engineer manager at TeamQuest, defines bimodal IT operations as a cultural rather than technological approach. Much like DevOps, which is the unification of development and operations for better IT, bimodal IT is possible without any hardware rip-and-replace projects, new monitoring tools or automation products -- although individual implementations may require some of these things to improve operations. 

The main payoff for bimodal IT is improved, more efficient and targeted IT operations aligned with how the business functions. However, Michael Zurawski, pre-sales manager for storage vendor EMC, says another benefit is lower costs for IT hardware. 

Another infrastructure question raised by bimodal IT operations is that of hybrid cloud, according to Mikel Steadman, director of sales engineering at cloud application monitoring and management provider Dyn. Hybrid cloud enables IT teams to run applications on owned, dedicated servers and storage and still take advantage of public cloud when the usage makes sense, such as for highly scalable customer-facing applications or cloud bursting when productivity apps hit peak utilization periods. 

Mode 1 of bimodal IT refers to traditional applications, likely written in an older programming language, that consume IT resources in a monolithic manner. Scaling up is fairly straightforward and rigid. Mode 2 applications may be componentized so that different pieces of the application scale in response to user demand. They also likely share components with other applications. Mode 2 applications are updated more frequently and with smaller releases, leading to the marathon and race comparison from ActiveBatch, a job scheduling and workload automation product from Advanced System Concepts. 

Meanwhile, the originator of bimodal IT, Gartner, is floating the term bimodal business. Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, distinguished analyst at the firm, applies the bimodal concept to business, highlighting how agility and risk-taking are critical for some, but not all, business operations. 

This was last published in September 2016

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