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Updated by Charles Bystock on 01/11/2023

In 2014, Gartner unveiled its new ‘Bimodal IT’ model to the industry in the hopes of addressing the challenges faced by modern enterprises in today’s digital world.

Described by Gartner, “bimodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT deliver, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed. Bimodal IT is the only sustainable solution for businesses in an increasingly disruptive digital world.”

It’s no secret that Gartner has a history of paving the way for new IT innovations, but the introduction of Bimodal IT has caused somewhat of a controversy among today’s CIOs and IT leaders. However, before taking a firm stance one way or another, let’s first discuss exactly what Bimodal IT entails and the opposing viewpoints around the impact Bimodal IT will have on today’s digitally disruptive IT landscape.

What exactly is Bimodal IT?

Proclaimed as a ‘new approach to today’s digital world’, Bimodal IT is a method that divides an organization’s infrastructure into two operational silos; mode 1 and mode 2. Mode 1 is fast, and falls under the umbrella of traditional IT. It is intended to allow IT organizations to own, control, operate, and manage key infrastructure components such as data centers, services and applications in-house that would otherwise be very complex and costly to transform. Mode 2 is slow, and is combined with mode 1 to enable organizations to keep pace, and quickly adapt to the rising demands of digital transformation.

The IT industry is in a state of constant flux, and Bimodal IT is, in essence, a comprehensive solution for maintaining the stability of a traditional infrastructure environment while delivering the agility and flexibility of a modern, cloud-based infrastructure.

The Impact Bimodal IT will have

There are two main opposing arguments regarding the impact Bimodal IT will have on today’s IT landscape:

Argument for Bimodal IT

It will likely come as no surprise that the greatest proponent for Bimodal IT is Gartner itself, and according to Peter Sondergaard, head of research for Gartner, “CIOs need to respond to the cataclysmic technology shift within their own organizations. The IT organization can’t turn into a digital startup overnight and, besides, there’s a raft of business-critical responsibilities that it simply can’t (and absolutely should not) divest.”

In a nutshell, the digital transformation that has surfaced in recent years has put pressure on IT organizations, and CIOs alike, to transition their infrastructure from legacy systems to a more cloud-based environment. However, achieving such a transformation is not a simple task; in fact, doing so in a way that causes little organizational and operational disruption in not only time consuming, but very costly as well. Bimodal IT is intended to allow organizations to begin the transition into a more agile environment, but provide the leniency and convenience of doing so incrementally over time.

Argument Against Bimodal IT

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Contrary to Peter Sondergaard’s view, many CIOs and IT leaders aren’t buying into the Bimodal IT movement. In fact, a large majority of IT organizations feel that the Bimodal IT philosophy is severely flawed at its core. Although it can seemingly address the major challenges faced by so many enterprises in today’s digital age, the concept of having two siloed functions within the same environment is extremely counterproductive. 

In order to achieve greater levels of organizational agility, efficiency, and productivity, enterprises need to break down the barriers between teams, not build them. Development and operations, now more than ever, need to have a cohesive working relationship to create an environment of shared-knowledge that enables more effective and efficient operational capabilities that will ultimately lead to improved customer satisfaction.

In addition, it’s been said that a system that employs two conflicting modes will lead to a battle for influence and limited resources. Rather than creating a unified and interconnected environment, organizations that pursue Bimodal IT will end up creating divided and internally-competitive culture.

What CIOs need to know

In theory, Bimodal IT is the perfect solution for modern enterprises. It removes the urgency and costs associated with IT transformation while allowing IT organizations to keep pace with growing digital demands. However, it’s not a realistic solution due to the wedge it drives between two key infrastructure components and its inability to truly adapt to the agile environment that so many enterprises are trying to achieve.

If your enterprise is facing the same challenge of adopting a more modern and cloud based infrastructure environment, like so many other organizations are, then leveraging an IT management solutions company is something that should be evaluated further. IT management solutions companies, like Windsor Group, are well-versed on the modern challenges of IT and the solutions available to combat those challenges.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of employing outsources IT solutions, download our Data Center Outsourcing Guide to learn how to get better efficiency, service, and disaster preparedness out of your IT solution.