Vizard : Bi-Modal IT Sells IT Leaders Short
In opinion / By Mike Vizard / 26 September 2016
The whole notion that there is some magic “bimodal” formula to managing IT is one of those gross oversimplifications that trivialises the amount of effort that goes into managing a modern enterprise IT environment.
Ever since the first application for a PC was developed IT environments have been multimodal, before that mainframes and minicomputers ruled the IT roost.
Minicomputers were eventually replaced by distributed systems built first on RISC and then x86 processors, but trillions of dollars in transactions are still processed on mainframes to this day.
Alongside those mainframes over the years there arose client/server applications that were soon followed by Web and native mobile applications.
On the IT infrastructure side, the mainstream adoption of virtualisation laid the foundation for cloud computing.
Today IT organisations are still trying to figure out which of the many forms of cloud computing that exist best suit them.
In some cases, it makes more sense to invoke a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. In other cases, a custom application is still required.
In the age of the cloud that generally means making use of a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment that makes it possible to flexibly deploy that application on premise or using an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environment.
Of course, IT stands still for no one.
Thanks to rise of application programming interfaces that essentially turn infrastructure into code, there’s a new generation of applications that make extensive use of microservices based on containers such as Docker.
More flexible than any previous approach to IT, it’s already clear developers are already using containers in a way that will transform how applications are not only built, but also how they are deployed and managed.
Meanwhile, just over the horizon it’s already apparent that “serverless computing” will be the next big thing.
Based on event-driven architectures, a serverless computing architecture turns IT infrastructure into a generic pool of resources that long running applications can invoke on demand.
Each successive wave of IT overlaps previous waves.
Some application workloads might move or even be replaced by newer ones running on new platforms.
But more often than not the majority of workloads stay right where they first landed.
Most of the transaction processing workloads running on mainframes today, for example, are not going to be as cost effectively processed on another platform.
For all the enthusiasm attached to virtualisation, there is now a new generation of Big Data analytics application demanding access to bare metal servers.
Nor do any of these workloads exist in isolation.
Not only do previous waves of IT architectures liberally borrow concepts from one another, IT organizations need to integrate the application workloads that span them to drive a business process.
Mobile applications involving some form of e-commerce almost invariably wind up driving a transaction on a mainframe.
Every microservice is looking to access data that resides in some database that has usually been already running in production for the better part of decade.
Regardless of the architecture employed, legacy applications of all types are continuously modernised and being an IT leader today is the equivalent of being a conductor that leads the orchestra.
To create real harmony, all the music being created by the pieces of the orchestra need to flow in and out of each other.
While perhaps useful as a marketing slogan intended to increase demand for additional IT research services, bi-modal IT makes it sound like managing IT is roughly the equivalent of being the manager of two or three-piece band playing the same simple tunes over and over again as the band travels from one gig to the next.
Of course, not all conductors are created equal, some are bona fide maestros.
The difference between the two is the degree to which the maestro can consistently elicit high-fidelity performances from an orchestra that, like any enterprise-class IT environment,is by definition multi-modal.