IT organizations struggle to perform efficient change and release management. ITIL best practice guidelines clearly identify pre-production testing as a very important step to improve change and release management efficiency. Effective pre-production testing includes building realistic staging environments for IT testing, testing all changes that are targeted for production, and testing the impact of a change across the entire software infrastructure stack from end-to-end. This is sound advice in theory, but IT professionals face a ‘Perfect Storm’ of challenges:
• Production system availability expectations are extremely high
• IT supports very complex production environments with multiple inter-dependencies
• the volume, diversity, and acceleration of changes requested of production systems is overwhelming
IT organizations that adopt a structured change and release management approach also enjoy a smoother, more mature, change process. ‘Second generation’ virtualization serves as an enabling technology upon which to create a structured approach to improve change and release management maturity. It introduces both benefits and challenges of its own. While virtualization is not a complete answer for change and release management, it offers promise that IT organizations should consider.
• IT Operations faces a 'perfect storm' of extreme availability demands, highly interdependent systems, voluminous and accelerated change, and confusing system complexity
• Structured change management processes according to ITIL best practices includes setting up a staging environment for IT testing, testing all changes, and testing changes from end-to-end across the infrastructure.
• For companies that have adopted structured Change Management processes, Change drives 25-30% of incidents in production. For companies with less structured processes, Change drives 75-80% of incidents in production
• Virtualization can improve efficiency of pre-production preparation and the adequacy of the testing of changes, but it comes with its own costs and challenges.