Adaptive DNS – Dopamine for your Bimodal IT Strategy

A CIO walks into a crowded room. Is he going to be the life of the party, or sit quietly in the corner?

A CIO walks into a crowded room. Is he going to be the life of the party, or sit quietly in the corner?

That’s a tough question to answer with so little information. So let’s dig deeper, because the answer might also give us some insight into what kind of organization he runs.

Stanford University marketing professor Baba Shiv and IT consultant firm Gartner – two wildly different sources of insight – can help us understand how CIOs operate, and what constraints – both internal and external – prevent them from realizing their most ambitious digital transformation initiatives, like Adaptive DNS.

(And you thought I was opening this blog with just some dumb joke).

Gartner’s view: our CIO spends his time in one of two modes

Gartner has an opinion (they always do). They’ve been talking a lot about Bimodal IT, the dichotomy that characterizes the CIO’s agenda. “Bimodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.” That means that at any given time our IT leader is either in Mode 1 or Mode 2.

Mode 1 is focused on maintaining the legacy environment and keeping the lights on, while finding new ways to optimize and streamline service delivery. It is structured and hierarchical, running on systems of record to meet guaranteed service level agreements. Most DDI infrastructure at enterprise organizations like DNS, DHCP and IPam are Mode 1 systems – IT resources are deployed to prop up legacy infrastructure that determines how every user and device accesses the information they need on a network.

Ahh but Mode 2. That looks very different. It’s focused on the modern IT environment, leveraging cloud technologies and microservices. This mode is exploratory, experimental. Risk is encouraged and failure is acceptable. CIOs in Mode 2 are transforming their operation into an IT as a service model – where IT expertise and resources are consumed, on demand, like any other cloud-based service. And that’s how they envision DNS services – a fully automated system that provisions and manages access to compute through open APIs and microservices.

“We’re moving to a real-time platform where provisioning of networks is done automatically, through APIs and portals, not managed by a handful of experts controlling enterprise-wide access to compute.”

So we have two modes of operation for the modern CIO. But what about their personas?

Baba Shiv – is it fear of failure or fear of missing out?

Stanford University’s Baba Shiv has made his career on studying failure and the different ways that people approach it. To describe how people perceive the risk of failure, he points to two mindsets. A Type 1 mindset fears failure and craves consistency and familiarity. It sounds a bit like Mode 1 IT – keep things running, and do not risk expansion into unknown territory that might cause a crash.

Then there’s the Type 2 mindset. Rather than fearing failure, this mindset has a fear of missing out – that’s right, FOMO. This mindset is more like Mode 2 IT work, exploratory and experimental. The whole point is to take risks on trying new things and then paying attention to the results.

Gartner says that a good bimodal strategy recognizes that both Mode 1 and Mode 2 IT are critical to success. To compete in the fast-moving digital economy, with new market entrants threatening disruption around every corner, enterprises must focus on renovating the IT core within Mode 1 so that a Mode 2 exploratory style is possible.

Similarly, Shiv says even a Type 1 person can shift to a Type 2 mindset given the right conditions – often triggered by a hormonal shift. A little drop in cortisol and stress levels plummet. As the Serotonin wears off, stress dissipates. Now the brain craves dopamine, the excitement of a new experience – the rewards of risk.

Our CIO might just hit the dance floor.

Bridging two worlds with Adaptive DNS

Now, whether Gartner’s concept of bimodal IT is a lifeline to CIOs trying to find firm footing in a rapidly changing digital world, or more hype simply designed to help Gartner sell more research, is not for us to say. But what is clear from our customers is that you cannot get to Mode 2 without shoring up Mode 1. They are co-dependent.

Just two weeks ago, I listened to a Director of Engineering for one of the top investment banks in the world describe the goals of what may be the biggest migration of DNS infrastructure ever attempted in the financial services industry: “we’re moving to a real-time platform where provisioning of networks is done automatically, through APIs and portals, not managed by a handful of experts controlling enterprise-wide access to compute.”

That’s how Adaptive DNS bridges both worlds, giving CIOs both the reliability and agility they need to be truly bimodal IT organization. It provides consistency of data and a single version of the truth when it comes to the network. It is grounded in business-critical infrastructure, yet it is evolving into a fully automated resource that can be consumed by business users as needed. It’s reducing operational expense while increasing speed – a core requirement of Gartner’s bimodal strategy.

In fact, it’s the life of the party and your designated driver. And who doesn’t need that?

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