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Bimodal vs. Multimodal IT: How We Made this Crucial Decision – By David Coker

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Author: David Coker, Vice President of Business Informatics at Intelligent Software Solutions (ISS)

As a developer of custom solutions for various public sector agencies, ISS has to be agile to remain competitive. We assessed adopting the much-discussed bimodal strategy of splitting the internal technology domain into two very distinct groups

1) The “legacy” group: traditional IT that’s focused on stability and efficiency. In the method endorsed by some large tech analysts, this group (and their technology) is on cruise control and more or less waiting to be phased out.

2) The “future” group: DevOps focused on requiring new tools and processes that enable agile development and point the way to cloud-based processes and enterprises.

When we looked at these two choices in the context of our culture, processes, and strategies, we decided we needed a “third way”: multimodal IT. In short, it is a DevOps approach spanning the entire enterprise, with the recognition that each different piece of the enterprise is at a different place on the continuum and will move forward at a different speed (crawl/walk/run). The result is a dynamic, on-premise environment that supports flexible, timely, and relevant capabilities while adhering to a wide range of compliance challenges.

How did we arrive at this approach? There were a number of key considerations.

  • Morale: We didn’t want half of our technology team to feel as if they’ve been consigned to the “slow boat” full of old technology that’s just waiting to die. It’s like telling half of your team that they’re borderline irrelevant and on the cusp of obsolescence. Additionally, our technical staff is comprised of 15-20 people supporting hundreds of virtual machines, apps, 300 developers, finance systems, to name a few. Splitting these folks up was out of the question.
  • DevOps practice can benefit both legacy and future applications. We want to have a normalized set of processes even if the technology is different. Recognizing that each piece of the enterprise is at a different point on the continuum, we can use pieces of bimodal practice and use what we’re learning on new systems to help the older ones along.
  • Virtualization alone was not sufficient to achieve the types of efficiencies, responsiveness, and scale that was required. We needed to extend management to the process level. A combination of vRealize, vSphere, Docker, Ansible, NSX, and other technologies enabled us to modernize enterprise IT without leaving anything behind.

DevOps Approach Spanning the Entire Enterprise

Thus, we made the decision to try to take everything forward to the future, realizing that different systems will move toward the agility horizon at different rates. However, DevOps means many things to many people. In the next post, I will discuss more about our specific DevOps thrust as regards our multimodal initiative.

By the way, I spoke on this subject at VMWorld.  To view the slides, click here.

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David Coker

About David Coker

David leads ISS' transformation to a managed, planned, and repeatable DevOps infrastructure. ISS currently supports a wide range of customers requiring tailored solutions across a disparate set of technologies and provides a highly secure and flexible environment for rapid application development emphasizing cloud native tenets. Over the past 11 years, David has held several product and programmatic roles across the organization.