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How can organizations improve their network change management?

Organizations can optimize their network change management processes with dedicated change management services for improved planning, monitoring and communication capabilities.

In dynamic network environments, change is constant. Software updates, security patches, system configuration adjustments, the addition of new equipment and decommissioning of legacy hardware are all frequent. Yet, with change comes mistakes, particularly as IT staffs make manual modifications. And these errors could open the door to costly network downtime. Industry estimates peg the average hourly cost of network downtime starting at $300,000.

So, how can IT eradicate errors associated with network changes to avoid service interruptions? Having effective network change management processes can go a long way toward eliminating -- or at least reducing -- service outages. This starts with a comprehensive review of current network change management practices. Identify which tools are used to manage configuration changes and if there are inconsistencies in how they are employed.

The benefits of network change management services

Rather than relying on manual tools such as Excel spreadsheets to track changes, consider investing in a network change management service to map out changes for greater efficacy and maintain a record to avoid mistakes. Some network change management services include SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM), WeConfig NCM and Ipswitch Configuration Management.

All but the simplest network changes need to be documented, including all the steps involved. Network change management services can store asset configuration information and map connectivity data between each resource. Working with information from configuration management databases, these services have the most accurate data about each component on the network.

Network change management services can also remove many manual aspects of change management associated with downtime. They also help organizations adhere to compliance requirements. 

What features do these services offer?

The features of network change management services include a calendar for better planning, an automated approval management component and a system for sending notifications to the affected constituents. Network change management services also provide organizations with a mechanism to record how well they are meeting their internal service-level objectives with regard to change management.

Effective communication is critical to successful network change management. IT staff and personnel in affected lines of business should review change management plans to ensure network changes don't interfere with critical functions. IT managers need to work together to develop optimal plans that will have the lowest possible effect on network services and corporate operations.

A well-executed set of network change management processes may not alleviate all downtime, but they should significantly improve consistent operational availability, while also helping an organization improve its compliance posture.  

This was last published in December 2018

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What network change management services has your organization used?
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