A full-scale cloud migration of existing business infrastructure is a daunting prospect for established enterprise organizations, especially if business critical systems run perfectly well on legacy infrastructure.
However, an organization’s development projects can often be divided into two main groups: slow moving applications that support key operations and change rarely; and fast moving innovative projects designed to help the business differentiate from its competition.
Moving the first type of application into the cloud may not be practical or necessary in the short term, but the second type are likely to be more effective when utilizing cloud infrastructure than legacy colocated or on-premise infrastructure.
In fact, this is such a common pattern that it has a name. Gartner refers to the divide between “slow” and “fast” business application development as Bimodal IT. Legacy infrastructure supports legacy applications: those applications of critical importance to the company, but that are more-or-less in maintenance mode. Development moves slowly, changes are rare and predictable, the domain is well understood, and the priority is to keep everything functioning smoothly in support of business operations.
For the “fast lane”:, what Gartner refers to as Mode 2 projects, the pace is radically different. The aim here is to explore new ground and test new ideas. Updates are continuous. Infrastructure requirements are in constant flux and scaling requirements are unpredictable. The key to Mode 2 is the ability to quickly move from business idea to production application.
Of course, the cloud is entirely capable of supporting both modes, but for companies with existing infrastructure supporting business-critical applications, using the cloud for Mode 2 development projects is a smart move. Cloud platforms are perfectly suited for supporting fast-moving experimental development and production environments.
Cloud platforms reveal their full potential when their core strengths are leveraged: elasticity, on-demand pricing, inexpensive infrastructure deployment, and automation. For businesses seeking to innovate and move new products and services to market, these capabilities are key.
Experimenting on cloud infrastructure is low-risk, because upfront capital investment is minimal. The ability to deploy servers quickly allows businesses to innovate, iterate, and get a minimal viable product into production more quickly than is possible with the lead-times inherent in physical infrastructure deployments.
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, cloud migration doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing commitment. In fact, the best approach is to identify business processes that could benefit from cloud infrastructure and a Mode 2 approach to development and deployment.
Businesses with extensive colocated infrastructure, who recognize the business process and infrastructure management benefits of the cloud, can implement a bimodal approach — embracing the agility of the cloud without leaving behind the predictability of legacy infrastructure and operations.