Incorporating SD-WANs to Achieve Bimodal IT Efficiencies

Imagine driving two cars simultaneously, only at different speeds. It's probably a little nauseating to think about, but it's basically the setup in many IT departments tasked with supporting two distinct classes of applications, one legacy and one modern, side by side.

What Is Bimodal IT and Is It Still Relevant?

A few years back, IT research firm Gartner coined a term for this exact concept: bimodal IT. But what is bimodal IT, really? There are two key components to it:

  • Mode 1: This class encompasses any IT development undertaken for the sake of operational stability and continuity. Accuracy and safety are the ultimate priorities, meaning speed is not as important. Maintaining systems of records, such as payroll and ERP, is a classic Mode 1 activity.
  • Mode 2: This mode is more exploratory, with greater tolerance for speed and ongoing modification. It is closely associated with both agile development and DevOps. Websites, mobile apps, CRM and other platforms that engage customers are the most prominent Mode 2 vehicles.

Another way to think of it: Mode 1 is like going to the DMV and waiting in line for something, while Mode 2 is akin to obtaining the same item online. Sometimes Mode 1 is your only option, but a properly implemented Mode 2 equivalent is often preferable.

The concept's actual relevance remains controversial. In 2017, Gartner revealed that 71 percent of "Top Performer" organizations reported improvements in innovation from bimodal IT arrangements. On the other hand, one Forrester analyst has emphasized the need to "throw the reins off" and commit all of IT to a common culture instead of two siloed ones, according to HighSpeed Office.

How WANs Determine Bimodal IT Successes and Failures

Supporting two concurrent modes of IT is undoubtedly challenging, since it requires well-defined team roles and cultures for each one. You also have to have a wide area network (WAN) capable of delivering reliable service to branches and supporting a diverse set of applications.

In this respect, there is a night-and-day difference between a traditional WAN and a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN):

  • Old-fashioned WANs resemble Mode 1 applications in their reliance on relatively inflexible technologies and frequently costly, protracted process for implementation and maintenance.
  • Meanwhile, SD-WANs can support fast lanes for performance-sensitive Mode 2 engagement applications such as VoIP and video conferencing. Packet loss, latency and jitter are constantly measured to ensure acceptable Quality of Experience (QoE).

Moreover, a solution from a leading SD-WAN provider is ideal whether your organization feels like it can fully move on from Mode 1 or needs to continue in a bimodal setup. For example, modern SD-WANs can take advantage of commodity internet links, but they can also help you get more from an existing MPLS plan. With SD-WAN, you get the flexible, adaptive performance required for all your applications, regardless of the underlying transport.

Talari Networks is a leading SD-WAN provider ready to help you take the next step in bimodal IT. Learn more by signing up for a demo or downloading our eBook through the link below.

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