I wanted to continue our revue of the recent IBM InterConnect conference in Las Vegas last month. We kicked off the revue with the release of our first videos from the show on Monday. Since then we just updated the YouTube playlist of videos available with a new batch. We will be adding to these in the coming days. For this article I wanted to zero in on a topic that I find interesting and have explored before, namely Multi-Speed IT versus Bimodal IT.
I know that Gartner has led the way in popularizing the term Bimodal IT. Many people have adopted the term to mean that some legacy parts of the IT organization will not be able to operate at the speed of some of the newer DevOps empowered parts of the org. can work at. So it is OK for the different parts to operate at different speeds. You have in essence more than bimodal, but almost bifurcated IT.
My problem with this scenario starts with the Bi in Bimodal. Bi signifies two, as if there were just two parts in this equation. One moves at one speed and the other moves at another speed. In real life there are more than two parts to the organization moving at different speeds. So multi-speed is much more appropriate than Bimodal.
My problem goes beyond just comparing two to many though. I have a problem with thinking legacy systems cannot benefit from DevOps, Agile, Lean, etc. As we have seen, even Big Iron mainframes can be made faster with DevOps. So while different parts of the IT organization can move at different speeds and will naturally do so, it doesn’t mean that legacy systems of record for instance cannot be speeded up using DevOps.
In my view of multi-speed IT the entire organization is more like the gears in a Swiss watch. Different gears of different sizes, moving at different speeds, but all of them orchestrated to mesh together like a fine timepiece.
This brings me back to InterConnect. I had a chance to discuss this very issue with a few people who know a thing or two about mainframes and DevOps. Below is my conversation with Hayden Lindsey, VP of DevOps for Enterprise Systems at IBM:
As you can see Hayden shares many of my views on this subject, but probably even goes a bit further than me calling the premise of Bimodal IT “snake oil”.
Hayden was not the only person I spoke to at InterConnect about this subject either. I had a great conversation with Rosalind Radcliffe, distinguished engineer, enterprise systems at IBM (and one of my favorite interview subjects). Here is what Rosalind had to say:
While this interview covered topics other than multi-speed IT, I have also interviewed Rosalind before on this subject. Rosalind and I actually did a podcast/DevOps chat on this subject as well. You can listen and read along to that one here.
The multi-speed IT versus bimodal IT isn’t just something that IBM sees though. While at InterConnect I also had a chance to sit down with Ralph Van Beek of Rabobank. A Netherlands based bank with operations throughout the world.
Ralph tells us of Rabobank’s DevOps journey in which multi-speed IT plays a big role.
If all of this multi-speed IT versus bimodal IT is not enough for you, we also did a good Google Hangout on this same issue prior to IBM InterConnect 2016. Finally, Sanjeev Sharma, author of DevOps for Dummies, wrote a good piece on this subject right here on DevOps.com that you might find very useful if you are as interested in this subject as I am.
So that should be enough on this subject to satisfy just about everyone. But if you have something to add to this topic please leave a comment or submit your own article to me here at firstname.lastname@example.org.