Thameem Khan

B and B: How Dell Boomi Enables Bimodal IT

Blog Post created by Thameem Khan Employee on May 23, 2016

"How does Dell Boomi support <insert buzz word>?” is a frequent question from my prospects and customers. Right now one of those hot buzzwords is "Bimodal IT". Hence, I want to share some thoughts on how Dell Boomi can support Bimodal IT initiatives in your organization.


Bimodal IT is a term recently coined by Gartner and revolves around digital transformation--a transformation that brings together things, people, and business and not just a new mobile app or an enhanced website. And transformation in any context means change and with change comes an opportunity to improve and learn. To quote Edward Demming, “To survive, we must learn."


Breaking it down, bimodal means two mindsets for approaching IT projects:

  • Mode 1 - Projects that are predictable, you “take orders” and show the finished product once done (sounds familiar...waterfall model)
  • Mode 2 - Projects that are exploratory, you work hand-in-hand to find possibilities and have a feedback loop for constant improvement (sounds familiar….agile model)


Let’s explore these modes with a quick example. TheKhan Cigars is a cigar company who decides to upgrade their legacy ERP as part of their digital transformation. It chooses an ERP and go through careful planning, requirements gathering, implementation phases and QA over months or even years. This is an example of Mode 1: conventional projects that need reliability, careful planning, coordination, and approvals to meet customer expectations and can span a long term. You'll need the discipline and stamina of a Samurai marathon runner!


Next, "TheKhan Cigars" decides to launch a new product line called "TheKhan Vapors" targeted at the millennial market that is very active on social networks. It needs to collect data and engage with customers across social media, mobile apps, and online communities to drive targeted marketing campaigns. However they will need to adapt quickly to an ever-changing market landscape, to provide business value. This is where a Mode 2 mindset can be helpful. Projects must quickly go from hypothesis to implementation to take advantage of opportunities and require a constant feedback loop and adjustments on the fly. Many times there will a huge gap between the business owner’s original vision and the actual solution. You'll need the quickness and adaptability of a Ninja sprinter! The Mode 2 mantra is "Win fast, Lose fast, but most importantly, Learn fast."


How Dell Boomi enables Bimodal IT

Below are some of the key aspects of the AtomSphere platform that can be applied for Mode 1 and Mode 2. Keep in mind projects don't have to be strictly classified as Mode 1 or Mode 2. They can alternate between the two modes depending on requirements.


Ease of Platform Deployment

Boomi is an iPaaS solution and all you require is a browser, internet and login information to access the IDE. This provides you the ability to access the platform from anywhere and also the reliability (SLA - 99.99%). You can run your integrations on the Dell Boomi hosted cloud for a zero-install implementation and/or install the Atom (lightweight Java agent) locally on-premise. Hence, if you have a Mode 2 project and want to get started ASAP, all you need to do is log in: there is no need to provision servers, install dependent software or IDE studios, configure the network, etc. Of course these same advantages can be leveraged for Mode 1 projects as well. Additionally, Atoms can be deployed via Docker containers for faster deployments and packaging applications.


GUI-Based Configuration

"A picture speaks thousand words" and "A GUI saves thousand lines of code". The AtomSphere GUI helps the developer concentrate on the solution rather than thinking about the nitty-gritty of connecting to end applications and parsing data formats. The UI shows the actual flow of data to the business user and helps with rapid prototyping. It's easy to iterate on changes to zero-in on the actual want of the business user. From a Mode 1 perspective, the GUI provides the ability to have more collaborative approach and iterate. For Mode 2, it helps in achieving this in a much quicker and efficient manner.


Native Version/Source Control Built into Platform

AtomSphere provides in-built version control. You don't need an external repository and there is no need to go through check-in/check-outs. Hence, if there are changes made and are not desirable, you can roll back to previous version. This again helps with iterative, collaborative development without additional software dependencies. For Mode 1 projects, the in-built version control, in conjunction with the user roles provides full auditing and incremental delivery as part of a formal software delivery life cycle. For Mode 2 projects, the version control helps in focusing on having smaller teams and building faster solution, without worrying about where and how the code resides.


Crowd-Sourced "Boomi Suggest"

Boomi Suggest is a perfect example of the power of AtomSphere's single instance, multi-tenant architecture. The emphasis here is on the time to value and rapid development. Boomi Suggest is similar of Google's suggested queries where Google offers suggested search phrases after learning from other users. This feature is an automated, continuous learning algorithm that looks at anonymous field mapping metadata and suggests recommended mappings. This is very powerful for Mode 2 projects where the requirements are not well defined and there is constant feedback and iteration. A byproduct of this functionality is that it helps in performing a "sanity check" of your mapping VS what people are doing in the industry. Many of our customers have rated this a #1 value proposition against our competitors.


Boomi Assure

"Manual work is the mother of all automation". Today there is a huge push in the industry for test automation and industry analysts claim that by 2020, 80% of the test cases will be automated. AtomSphere allows you to submit your test cases to be included in our regression test plan to help ensure new product versions do not impact existing customers. Boomi Assure has been around for three years now and sounds too good to be true. This is a very valid and important functionality for Mode 1 projects, to ensure functionality and incremental delivery.


Platform APIs

APIs also enable automation. There is no denial that the industry expects every application out there to have an API (web hooks). The motivation for the customers is to leverage best- of-breed tools to perform the desired functionality. AtomSphere's APIs let you automate many of the manual steps. Platform APIs for continuous integration, deployment, delivery and monitoring use cases help with both Mode 1 and Mode 2 projects. (More about CI/CD in upcoming blogs)


Test Driven Development (TDD)

Test Driven Development (TDD) has been part of the agile/XP spectrum for a long time. TDD is native to AtomSphere and is especially helpful when developing Mode 2 projects. An AtomSphere process can be directly unit tested from the IDE itself and once the process is executed, two things happen. Not only are detailed step-by-step logs created for each shape in the process, the actual document data is captured at every shape as well. This lets you understand whether the new step introduced, for the new test case is a success or failure.


Final Thoughts

Mode 1 and Mode 2 projects have always existed and are not new. Agile has been around for more than 10 years and has a successful adoption rate. There are some guidelines as to what constitutes as Mode 1 Vs Mode 2 projects. However it's your choice to classify and apply them accordingly to your projects. And this classification is influenced by the culture, organization structure, project time line, and finally the requirements. There is also a risk that companies may get too uptight and spend unnecessary cycles with what constitutes as Mode 1 vs. Mode 2.


One thing is clear: IT is shifting towards more automation, lean IT, rapid delivery, best of breed tools/apps (mostly cloud) and is looking to deliver real value to the business. Therefore it becomes imperative that the new tools, platforms, and applications that IT is looking to on-board must support these goals. You can call this Bimodal IT or chose another name to classify agile vs. non-agile projects. The AtomSphere platform falls under this paradigm and provides a single platform that enables both kinds of modes.


I'm curious to know how are you approaching your IT projects: with a Mode 1 or Mode 2 mindset, or a mix of both?