We work hard at Skytap to help organizations take large and complex legacy applications and create viable test environments that allow these applications to be safely changed. This supports the goals of continuous delivery while recognizing that highly changeable, microservice-style architectures are unlikely to spring up overnight – so making cumbersome application environments quickly adaptable is key.
Gartner’s “Bimodal IT” model has really caught hold as a way to talk about today’s IT environments. I think that there are two reasons for this: 1) Gartner is pointing out something that is obviously true. Even though we know of some better ways to build software, most of the software we already have and already depend on was not written in this way, nor was it architected with modern rates of change in mind. 2) Somewhat unfortunately, many organizations take this as license to only change their processes for “greenfield” applications, while leaving “systems of record” processes as-is. The theory is that the risks of changing systems of record are too high.
Jez Humble, one of the authors of Continuous Delivery, points out where this goes wrong in “The Flaw at the Heart of Bimodal IT.” He shows through solid research that high performing organizations don’t take the risk of standing still with their systems of record and are able to improve BOTH agility and stability at the same time by driving smaller changes at a more frequent pace.
We agree with Jez that just “doing” new applications in new ways is not the way market leaders are going to behave. The right answer is to make all new work support a continuous delivery model regardless of what system is being changed and allow your applications to self-modernize over time. This approach pays for itself, but it takes confidence to enact. Skytap technology can play a role in putting that confidence in place.
This piece is part of our continuing project, “Scaling Modern Software Delivery.” Click here to read the previous chapters of this great series!