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With a bimodal IT culture shift companies can adopt DevOps at scale

IT leaders need to leverage bimodal IT to start small, reinforcing certain behaviors on a lower level with fewer people before attempting a DevOps culture shift.

A successful DevOps implementation requires the introduction of new processes and technologies that affect IT teams. That means IT must undergo a drastic DevOps culture shift.

According to Gartner, the best approach to this shift is known as "bimodal IT." Bimodal IT certainly aligns with the ultimate goals and needs of DevOps. CIOs need to organize IT teams to operate using agile and DevOps, which puts an emphasis on speed and exploration, while also supporting traditional IT, which focuses more on efficiency, safety, scalability, etc. Favoring one over the other means that your business is, to put it simply, failing to do DevOps.

While this advice might sound obvious at first blush, for some companies it may be easier said than done. Gartner estimates that by 2018, 75% of enterprises will have attempted bimodal IT, but less than 50% will actually reap the benefits of DevOps methodologies. Why this difference between intention and successful implementation? If IT leaders don't make the effort to address the existing cultural foundations within their company, their attempt at DevOps will most likely fail.

Admittedly, not only is a flat directive like "change your behaviors and culture" unhelpful advice without further elaboration, it's an objective that's too expansive in nature to tackle without taking smaller steps first. And therein is the key: IT leaders need to start small, reinforcing certain behaviors on a lower level with fewer people before attempting to scale up. While it's good to eventually have everyone on the same page, this DevOps culture shift can't happen all at once.

How companies and the teams therein choose to adopt bimodal IT, of course, depends entirely on the nature of the company; for instance, it’s unlikely to require as much time and effort at a startup with 20 employees as it would at a business with hundreds or thousands. But certain strategies, like beginning the "rollout" with the team on the project that stands to benefit the most from a speedier approach to software development, can be a good place to start, regardless of your company’s scale.

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