5 Buried Costs in a Bimodal IT Model

Ops teams have to constantly adapt to new and faster software, while maintaining legacy infrastructure. This is not easy, and that’s why some choose to use the bimodal IT model. The model splits the IT operations into two separate modes in order to maintain legacy hardware through traditional IT operations, while still embracing agile and change-driven practices through new opportunities for the business. However, in an article for TechTarget, Stephen Bigelow points out five cost burdens that must be considered when you choose a bimodal model:

  1. Training for essential skills
  2. Hiring for additional skills
  3. New tools
  4. Maintaining legacy software at a viable level
  5. Time

Double the Cost?

With the bimodal model, you need to acquire hardware and software skill sets appropriate for bimodal IT environments, which include C++, Java, HTML, Python, PHP, and other emerging languages. A company can pay a premium to attract skilled employees. Outsourcing is yet another option, though some tasks need to be done inside the company.

One major complaint about bimodal IT is actually not about the number of highly skilled staff, but the separation between the legacy team and innovative systems team. Business leaders should make an effort to rotate staff between the two teams periodically to cross-train skills and reduce communication barriers. Having different teams work on different models deprives them of the opportunity to thoroughly understand the model and get a hand on the other work.

Bigelow also mentions that different modes of IT require different tools:

For example, a given mainframe requires COBOL, TSO I/O spoolers, the z/OS operating system, Interactive System Productivity Facility source code and text editor and scripting with JCL. A distributed server cluster at the same company runs Windows Server 2012 OS instances with VMware ESXi virtualization and Microsoft System Center and Chef management tools, among other point tools for monitoring and management. The services it hosts rely on .NET and an array of development platforms.

The most expensive thing may not be the best thing to use. Therefore, don’t forget that there are unforeseeable costs of complexity for the bimodal IT model: oversights, mistakes, and confusion of staff working on different models. While these modes operate quite differently, the key is still to provide measurable value to the business.

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