By Maryling YuWhat does change management have to do with the second law of thermodynamics? I know it might initially sound like a stretch to relate these two things together, but bear with me. (It won’t be as tenuous as the connection between Gangnam Style and IT disaster recovery, I promise.)
What IS change management, anyway?
Change management, from a recovery perspective, is the process of reflecting the changes you make in your IT production environment into your IT disaster recovery environment. This is so that if you ever DO need your recovery environment – knock on wood – it will still be compatible with your production environment and you have the right servers, hypervisors, operating systems, network, and storage connected to your data. Without an IT disaster recovery environment that mirrors your IT production environment, your recovery will likely fail.
Over time, however, we all know that even keeping up with IT production change management is a challenge. (Every IT Director or IT Manager dreads the nightmare scenario of the seemingly innocuous change made at 3am on Sunday morning that ends up taking down the entire environment.) Without rigorous change management processes, the process of unfurling the damage is pretty darn difficult. So if most IT staffs don’t even have time for PRODUCTION change management, can you imagine how often they would have time for RECOVERY change management? Yeah: NEVER.
So what the heck is the second law of thermodynamics?
The second law of thermodynamics states, in a nutshell, that everything tends towards entropy, because “isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.” ⇐This last sentence comes from Wikipedia, and was written by people far smarter than me. However, it’s just a fancy of way of saying that everything always devolves to the lowest level of effort. That being the case, the second law of thermodynamics also explains why my house is always a mess and why it’s so hard to stick to a diet. Given that it takes work and effort to clean up my house, the easiest thing to do is to push off any tidying up until the next day…and the next…and the next. Given that it takes time and effort to make and toss a salad and go to the gym, the easiest thing to do is just to pull out the chips and guacamole for a quick lunch on the couch.
This is also the same reason why IT staffs almost never perform change management for their recovery environments. It’s always #21 on a 20-item to-do list, and no one ever gets through their to-do lists. Bottom line is, it takes too much effort to rigorously record production changes and ensure they are flowed into recovery. Therefore, it never happens.
So what can be done about it?
I bring this up because at SunGard AS, we have a service offering called the Managed Recovery Program (MRP) that can help reverse the tide. I like this little video describing exactly how MRP works:
Just like cleaning your house, or sticking to a health regimen, you may need outside help to get results. Just as you might hire a housekeeper or part-time cleaning lady for your house, or a personal trainer or dietician for your body, you might leverage SunGard’s MRP for change management. You get to augment your staff with a dedicated Service Delivery Manager, whose primary job is to ensure that change management happens as a part of the lifecycle of your disaster recovery program. To do this more effectively, we have developed tools like a recovery configuration management database, or CMDB, that make the change management process much, much easier. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can easily notify your Service Delivery Manager of a single change (like a memory upgrade to a server) or even a bulk change (like the fact that you’ve upgraded multiple servers to Windows 2008 from Windows 2003). Check out our video demo-ing how change management is made easy:
A bonus of this new tool – which we’ve customized for the recovery use case – is that you can easily visualize your IT production environment as well, including any application interdependencies. Now isn’t that coming a long way from doing this via spreadsheet? Check out the video below to see how:
The best part is…SunGard MRP customers get to take advantage of these tools for no additional charge. It’s part of the service we provide. Now, I suppose it’s time for me to resist the natural pull of the second law of thermodynamics and finish up this blog post, get off the couch, and go for an afternoon run!