So why is the change control process important in a disaster recovery (DR) environment? Your disaster recovery site is expected to be ready on short notice to take over for the main production environment if there is any significant interruption in service. Any upgrades to the normal operational environment such as modified software, updated versions of operating systems or software, modified drivers etc., must be reflected in the DR site as well. I often find that people put shortcuts on their PC desktops, then forget the actual location referred to by the shortcut. So, when they get to the disaster recovery site, they expect their "DR" desktop to look like their "normal" desktop, and have difficulty remembering how to get to their proper site.
When change management or change control is used correctly, a procedure exists for any modifications made to the IT environment. One step you should not forget is to include the DR site in all of the modifications. The organization can decide how this is accomplished, but some type of written procedure that can be easily followed must be available at the disaster recovery site. Also, some organizations use the DR environment as their testing or staging area for software or other changes. If this is the case, one must be aware of the procedures required to "downgrade back" to the original production environment. Again, the key to a well-prepared disaster recovery site is the ability to transform the DR site to the production site in the shortest period of time with the least amount of errors.
This was first published in June 2010