Additional Change and Configuration Management Considerations for Private Cloud

Additional Change and Configuration Management Considerations for Private Cloud

Change management focuses on a variety of change-related issues that can follow the deployment of the virtual infrastructure. The organizational changes subject to the change management process include those regarding hardware, software, system components, documents, and processes—anything deliberately introduced into the virtual environment that could affect its functioning as reflected in the SLAs between the IT department and the business that it serves. When considering a process for change management for the virtual infrastructure, the following activities should be considered or included as part of that process:
  • Making a change request. Formally initiating a change by submitting a request for change (RFC).
  • Classifying a change. Aassigning a priority and category to the change, using its urgency and impact on the infrastructure or users as criteria. This assignment affects the implementation speed and route.
  • Authorizing a change. Considering and approving or disapproving the change by the Change Manager, and if one exists, the Change Advisory Board (CAB)—a board that contains IT and business representatives.
  • Developing a change. Planning and developing the change, a process that can vary immensely in scope and that includes reviews at key interim milestones.
  • Releasing a change. Rreleasing and deploying the change into the production environment.
  • Reviewing a change. Conducting a post-implementation process that determines whether the change has achieved the goals established for it and whether the change should be kept in effect.

At a minimum, determine and document the change management policies regarding the how, when, and who elements of the patch management process. Some questions to consider:

  • Are changes managed (identified, tested, and deployed)?
  • Do users or the operations staff perform the changes?
  • What tools are used? Are they automated? In what way?

Private Cloud Agility

With the Private Cloud scenarios enabled by Self Service, a different application of Change Management theory needs to be employed.

The concept behind Private Cloud includes the dynamic provisioning of Virtual Machines on demand from Business Units. This activity should not attract the full change management approval process. Rather the provision of the underlying infrastructure would attract the change approval process.

The workflow in Self Service Portal has been designed for the approval stages to be set at the Business Unit registration, Infrastructure request and Infrastructure change request stages. Once an Infrastructure request has passed change and release management controls, the Infrastructure can be considered ‘Live’. At this point the Administrator can approve the Infrastructure request in the Self Service Portal. The Creation and Removal of Virtual Machines from that Infrastructure are the responsibility of the Business Unit and should not attract additional processes.

Configuration Management Considerations

Configuration management is the critical process responsible for identifying, controlling, and tracking all the versions of hardware, software, documentation, processes, procedures, and other critical components of the IT organization. The key benefit that configuration management provides is the modeling of relationships in the environment. Change management uses this information to evaluate the impact of a change and so depends on the accuracy of the configuration data to ensure that such an impact can be understood and communicated appropriately.

It is especially important that private cloud environments running follow configuration management best practices for the host systems. Insufficient or incorrect configuration information can lead to poor decisions that negatively impact the environment. Host system information that could be included in the configuration management system includes the following configuration items and attributes:

  • Name
    • Network interfaces
    • Operating system
    • Memory
  • Processor
    • Manufacturer
    • Speed
    • Cores
  • Network interfaces
    • Name
    • Subnet
    • IP address
    • Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
  • Applications
    • Microsoft patches
    • Antivirus software
    • Application versions
    • Backup software
    • And so on
  • Storage controller
    • Additional CIs and attributes
  • Cluster
    • Additional CIs and attributes

Documentation includes SLAs, the disaster recovery plan, the build documentation, and so on.

For more information about configuration management and the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), visit

Release Management Considerations

One of the greatest values of virtualization is the ability of organizations that have not performed full release management activities in the past to now use the technology to help ensure that all approved changes are properly vetted before being introduced into the production environment. Release management is responsible for deploying changes into an IT environment. After one or more changes are developed, tested, and packaged into releases for deployment, release management is responsible for introducing these changes and managing their release.

The challenge many organizations face is that they have insufficient hardware to fully test releases. If test environments do exist, it is often time consuming and difficult to test the changes on exact replicas of the production environment. Virtualization technology, along with effective change management, configuration management, and release management processes, allow organizations to better ensure that releases do not cause disruption or outages when introduced into production. Hyper-V provides the ability to easily create copies of guest systems and test the releases and changes.

For more information about release management and Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0, visit

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