Monitoring and changes: where two worlds collide

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The basics

Change management can be very complex, with potentially very significant impacts in terms of availability, costs and loss of data . Monitoring can be used to validate operational behaviour following correct application of a change, and help pinpoint when changes occurred.

What is a change?

IT environments are constantly changing, be it due to new projects, corrective actions or configuration changes. The change management process is one of the most complex IT management processes to master, and potentially has the greatest impact on the availability and performance of IT services. And the issues can escalate quickly of changes are out of control

Consider, as an example,  how changing a firewall rule can lead to the inaccessibility of a Web application: it can easily be identified by IT Support, as users will encounter it pretty quickly. But what about a change to a data exchange process that occurs at the beginning of the month and whose impact is only revealed at the end of the month, during an accounting closure? As well as performing a correction, the data must be reapplied, in a limited time frame. It is not uncommon that another change is made during the emergency, leading to other incidents …

Many different individuals make changes, their volume is therefore potentially very high Access to systems remains relatively open despite any security policies in place, with the implementation of the change often preceding any consideration of its impact. Also,  it is sometimes difficult to identify the process to apply to a change. All this contributes to a lack of change management.

ITIL is a valuable ally, proposing a methodology based on the recording, prioritising, evaluation (business v technical),  planning and implementation in a manner fitting to the findings of the preceding stages. The key tools to safely negotiate changes include;  change registration database, the Configuration Management Database (CMDB),  and the schedule of changes. Organisationally, collaboration is key, as well as establishing the following specific roles : Change Manager, Functional or Technical Expert, User or Business Service Representative , Change Control Board (CCB).

UK ServiceNav Product Development Manager; my priority is to be needful of the particular requirements of all ‘English-speaking’ markets where ServiceNav is sold. I have over 20 years experience of the IT monitoring field - covering a wide variety of products and technologies.

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