Data Center Change Management Considerations

AIS-Frank-GaffA recent story in The Wall Street Journal about the ripple effect of technology glitches at U.S. airlines — inconveniencing thousands of travelers, spawning long airport lines, delaying or canceling flights — got me thinking.
More often than not, the root cause has been said to be some sort of maintenance or software update that goes awry. This got me further thinking: did these companies even know that a change was being introduced into the system that they rely on to keep their business running?
Change Management is something that should be top-of-mind when working with an internal or external service partner.
In fact, part of the engagement has to be letting the partner know what the restrictions are (i.e., “no change” or “change restriction” periods).
So, for example, as the summer travel season kicks into high gear, you don’t do a possibly intrusive maintenance or risky system update during critical customer demand periods.
You can get mad or you can get smart. AIS suggests getting smart because maintenance and system updates have to happen.
Take the extra step to make sure your service provider has a deep understanding of your business model and key processing timeframes.
For example, your provider should know if your business has weekly or cyclical periods of high processing windows that make scheduling medium and high risk changes undesirable.
Your provider should maintain a database of critical processing windows for their customers and ensure that the database is reviewed during the change approval process to avoid, where possible, scheduling changes during your critical processing windows.
Here at AIS, I have made it a point to continually engage with our customers to verify current change restriction periods remain as scheduled and when necessary, obtain approval for unscheduled changes.
About the Author
Frank Gaff is VP of Service Assurance and Chief Compliance Officer. He has over 30 years of experience in IT, data center, and telecommunications operations. At AIS, he is responsible for the Service Delivery and Client Services organization, managing the client experience from order entry to service implementation and on-going 24x7x365 client support.
Mr. Gaff took over responsibility for compliance and drove company efforts to complete the SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type 2, the SSAE 16 SOC 2 Type 2, and the SSAE 16 SOC 3 audits for our San Diego and Phoenix enterprise-class data centers. He also spearheaded the AIS Change Management and Incident Management procedures that were developed and implemented using the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) architecture.