Effective change management is required to ensure the integrity of the IT operational environments and an outsourced DR environment. The most basic premise of DR testing and recovery is that the combination of application/infrastructure systems protected in a DR environment can be restored to the customer’s operational environment and IT WORKS!
If there were not changes to upset this system balance, life would be wonderful; however, this is not the nature of IT systems. Infrastructure and applications systems are constantly changing; some of these impact the DR environment; others do not. What is important is to assess all changes with respect to the DR environment and engage the DR service provider for those changes that affect the DR environment. Hopefully, this has been addressed as part of the DR contract. Change control should be an ongoing process to ensure DR testing and recovery will function as designed.
What kind of changes impact the DR environment? Basically, all changes that affect the source target such that the recovery process can’t restore the systems and data properly. This may include changes to data base schemas, security policies, retiring old systems with active links in the DR site, firmware upgrades in devices/controllers that are not downward compatible, etc.
There are several ways to accomplish change management in a DR environment; below are a few approaches:
- DR service provider is included in customer’s change management process
- DR service provider is notified of changes impacting the DR environment and makes the assessment if the changes need to be promoted to the DR environment
- Change management is provided through contractual, SLA based changes
- The DR service provider is not included in customer change management process; the customer is responsible for changes in both environments. This is common in co-location environments.
- Change management will be done by customer automation that includes the service provider’s systems. This is very popular these days when devops is extended to cover both environments
Each of these approaches, as well as others not mentioned above, can be used to maintain integrity between the customer’s operational environment and the DR service provider's environment. The key is to identify what approach will be undertaken, develop the process(es) to accomplish the change, and to include the DR environment changes in all your budgeting exercises.
Do you know of other approaches and/or methods to improve change management between a customer’s environment with the service provider’s environment?
Please share if you do.
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