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What impact has virtualization and the cloud had on change management?

Independent backup expert Brien Posey discusses why change management has become even more important in today's world of virtualization and the cloud.

Has change management become more important in today's world of virtualization and the cloud? Why or why not?

At first, it is easy to dismiss the notion that change management is more important in the era of virtualization and the cloud. After all, change management has always been an undeniably important part of managing IT systems. However, there is one aspect that does directly translate into the increased importance of change management.

Server virtualization and having the ability to run virtual machines in the cloud has dramatically increased the number of systems that IT professionals must manage. This has caused organizations to move almost entirely away from manual processes, because manual administration becomes nearly impossible at scale.

In some ways, however, the dependence upon automation engines and centralized management policies has led to another issue. Making an incorrect modification to a centralized policy or configuration setting can have devastating effects because many systems may depend on the item that was changed.

One of the best defenses against these problems is an effective change management program. When problems unexpectedly arise, administrators need to be able to consult a change log to determine what was most recently altered. This is especially true in an environment in which the systems are managed by multiple administrators.

Having a good change management system in place can be the difference between a quick and easy fix, and a tedious troubleshooting process. Although these concepts hold true in even the smallest of IT shops, the importance of effective change management increases exponentially as the network grows. In other words, change management is important for smaller IT shops, but is an absolutely indispensable part of the management protocol for enterprise-scale and cloud-scale organizations.

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If companies are implementing infrastructure-as-a-code and putting the code into versioned repositories, they can integrate infrastructure testing and integration with application testing and integration via the same tools. It gives companies a persistent record of the state that environments should be in and allow simpler updates and rollbacks.