After the change has been made, a period of 'early life support' should follow. Skilled resources are assigned to closely monitor the systems affected by the change and provide immediate support when needed. Life-support engineers need to understand the impact and associated risks of the change to react swiftly and decisively with the appropriate remedial action. There should also be a reliable mechanism to test whether or not the change has been successful before going live with normal traffic volumes.
If an organisation chooses to outsource its network management to an external provider, it is imperative that all aspects of proper change management are in place and aligned with industry standards.
The migraine: incident management over weekends
An unavoidable occurrence in ICT networks is failing devices. These incidents cannot be predicted accurately - so the onus is on the network manager to have the most effective procedures in place to deal with failures as and when they occur. This usually takes the form of a maintenance and support contract with either a service provider or the vendor itself.
When unsupported devices fail on weekends, the organisation often has to wait until Monday to initiate service. It would also have to make special arrangements so that the service provider can work with the vendor to replace the device sooner than waiting for a new device to ship to site. This inevitably becomes a costly remedy. The result is that problems are often delayed or deferred, to be resolved during the week. It's not necessarily the severity of these issues, but the sheer volume to be resolved that causes a massive Monday migraine.
Cure: a proper inventory and skilled, experienced employees on duty who follow standardised incident management processes
To solve the headache of weak incident management, it is firstly important for an organisation to have an accurate view of its entire networking estate. This should include all of its devices, their relative age, and their individual risk and value profiles. This will allow the organisation to right-size its maintenance contract to match the device's criticality and risk profile with the appropriate service level.
It is also important to have access to skilled technicians with extensive knowledge and experience, and the ability to make decisions when devices need to be replaced. A network managed service delivered by a trusted, experienced service provider is therefore a far more cost-effective and convenient solution.
The rebound headache: weekend releases and deployments
For many organisations that manage their own networks, the implementation and deployment of patches and other general maintenance processes occur on weekends when both network traffic and the risk of affecting the organisation's business are at their lowest. Unfortunately, this means that user acceptance testing is often not done properly when the work is complete. Proper testing after weekend downtime is the best way to gauge if the network will be ready for the greater traffic volumes that usually come with Monday mornings. All too often, the testing has not been comprehensive enough, which causes a rebound headache on a Monday.
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