By Roland Rust,

CIOs nowadays face the challenge of providing solutions that need to fulfill opposing requirements: on one hand, IT solutions must meet the highest standards in terms of security and reliability. On the other hand, agility is required during development as well as during ongoing operations.

This issue is not new, but has been discussed more intensely under the term “Bimodal IT” since mid-2014. The first strategy (mode 1) describes solutions for the company’s core processes. These processes emphasize security and reliability. The development cycles are described as traditional and sequential.

The second strategy (mode 2) describes applications that demand a high degree of agility and fast results. During development as well, as during ongoing operations. We usually associate mode 2 with the usage of current web-technologies, cloud solutions and disruptive technologies in enterprise-IT.

This article has first been published on LinkedIn.

Meeting with opposition?

However, as regards enterprise software development, this view describes only two extremes that are rarely so clearly defined. In fact, the requirements’ profile of most business applications covers a wide area of the tension between agility and stability.

Increasing process dynamics

Topics such as “compliance” and “regulations” have reached almost all sectors of industry by now. Deadlines associated with regulations often do not allow a timely adaptation of the company’s core systems. On top of this, global technological changes have created user-needs for mobility and device independency.

The demands on corporate-IT are therefore:

  • Providing new functionality to add to core systems in a timely manner
  • Rapid adaptation of functionality without compromising existing solutions

Whether it is because of legal requirements, market pressure or competition: Lehman’s first law of software-evolution is more valid than ever: applications need to be adapted continuously, or they become less and less satisfying.

Agile and business-critical

For departments such as sales or customer relationship management, the use of standard software can mean losing competitiveness. In these areas, solutions are often pushed by the employees of the departments, sometimes even by bypassing corporate-IT.

The complete range of concessions this causes in terms of security, stability and data-integrity caused by this practice, is often only recognized during ongoing operations.

Corporate-IT faces the following challenges:

  • Integrate department employees in the application development process
  • Rapidly provide user-oriented solutions to avoid shadow-IT

Phase-specific focus

Usually, requirements differ not only from project to project, but also from project phase to project phase: until the first test version, a rapid implementation is important. While speed is the priority in this phase, reliability is what matters significantly from the first use of the productive system on. During the roll-out of new versions, a systematic guarantee of data-integrity is key.

The key factors in new IT projects are:

  • Provide a highly adaptable and at the same time solid system architecture
  • Connect to core systems taking account of all given regulations

Switch

CIOs and CTOs need to take the role as innovation leaders in corporate structures. It is their responsibility to watch current technologies closely and to identify solutions. The decision is hardly ever one that is biased towards either agility or stability.

What at first sight seems to be the task of simply “adding” a little agility to some specific projects, while leaving the existing IT landscape untouched, can turn out to be quite a journey as any agile coach can tell you. Our partner ANECON has laid out what it takes to identify and overcome the obstacles along that journey.

The same is true for the development technology stack. Building upon what you have might keep even your most agile projects in mode 1. If you need to consider both stability and agility or you need to consider varying speeds in different project phases, Sclable might be right for you. The Sclable Platform is designed to focus on security and reliability, while providing utmost freedom of choice for your application’s development technology stack.