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Change Management and Outages - Avoiding Downtime is Critical

12/11/2013 by: The SunView Team

Change Management

Change management strategies do more than organize and coordinate IT service operations. They also provide the insight into processes necessary to limit and, in some cases, eliminate the risk that comes with change. Based on the results of a recent Ponemon Institute study, IT leaders may want to take a close look at change management as part of their risk-related strategies.

According to the study, the average cost-per-minute of unplanned outages climbed 41 percent between 2010 and 2013, hitting $7,900. You read that correctly, just five minutes of unplanned downtime costs businesses, on average, $39,500.

With such heavy losses a very realistic possibility if a change goes wrong, IT leaders may want to seriously consider upgrading their homegrown help desk system to a more feature-rich IT service desk that offers change management functionality.

Analyzing the Scale of Downtime Costs
The study found that there has been some progress in limiting the length of outages during the past few years. In 2010, the average unplanned outage incident lasted approximately 97 minutes. In 2013, that average declined to 86 minutes, a fairly significant improvement when it comes to limiting the impact of downtime. However, the significant increase in the cost-per-minute of an outage was so substantial that the average cost-per-incident of an unplanned outage still increased. In 2010, that price was $505,500. In 2013, the total cost per unplanned downtime incident climbed to $690,200.

The results for research on full and partial data center outages presented similar results. On one hand, the length of outages generally shortened from 2010 to 2013, but the cost still increased because IT systems are becoming so critical for business operations.

The critical nature of IT is a major issue facing managers, and change is a major component of this issue because emerging technologies are leading to new challenges as IT teams often need to introduce functionality that is similar to the consumer market when it comes to meeting end-user demands. Change management is critical in this area, as consumerization often means more releases, more updates and a wider range of environments to deploy applications in. The end result is a major change and release management challenge that demand specialized solutions.

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Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, explained that the rising importance of IT systems has been a major contributor to the rising costs of downtime.

"Given the fact that today's data centers support more critical, interdependent devices and IT systems than ever before, most would expect a rise in the cost of an unplanned data center outage compared to 2010," said Ponemon. "However, the 41 percent increase was higher than expected. This increase in cost underscores the importance for organizations to make it a priority to minimize the risk of downtime that can potentially cost thousands of dollars per minute."

Using Change Management to Minimize Risk
An unplanned outage can easily be created by change gone wrong. As IT teams must balance cloud, virtual and physical environments, they must not only coordinate change between different operational silos, but completely disparate technological systems. The end result is an extremely complex and fault-prone configuration. In this situation, a single wayward change can lead to an extended outage. Furthermore, it doesn't take much to drive a change off course. Even a correctly-performed adjustment can lead to an outage if it is handled at the wrong time in the schedule.

This overwhelming complexity makes collaboration and coordination critical in the change management landscape. Change management is vital to avoiding outages as IT configurations mature and more companies move from legacy data center setups to contemporary environments where they must balance cloud, virtual and physical workloads.