How to manage application change risk

By Ian Wells, VP North-West Europe, Veeam

The modern enterprise lives or dies on the success of its business applications. Naturally, such applications do not stand still. Patching, upgrades or even entirely new deployments are constantly changing the application environment. Virtualisation has helped make this a simpler, less expensive and most importantly less risky process. Yet there is still more that can be done by making the most of the modern data centre’s infrastructure.

Testing is a crucial part of ensuring patches or other changes are as painless as possible and don’t have any unexpected effects on the production environment. Traditionally, IT infrastructure could be used for testing during long periods of downtime over the weekend or in the evening. However, the modern business is a 24/7, always-on operation, meaning that these natural grace periods are becoming extinct. Instead, IT teams face a growing gap between the need to test and guarantee the success of a patch or other change, and the need for the business to be constantly running.

This means trading availability with peace of mind, finding a balance the enterprise can live with. However, this shouldn’t be an issue. Advances in technology and technique mean organisations can thoroughly test their applications without affecting the availability of their services.

To begin with, it is possible to create a separate testing lab from as-yet unused infrastructure, such as a backup environment: avoiding the cost of having dedicated testing resources. Second, data protection techniques such as replication and high-speed backup are far more affordable and accessible: meaning enterprises can quickly set up testing infrastructure, of any scale, that is identical to the production environment as and when they need it. The speed of backup also means that rolling back these environments for repeated tests is a far simpler process.

With these capabilities, enterprises can have confidence that updates, patches or deployments have been thoroughly tested, without affecting IT availability. The technology already exists, what enterprises need is the will to make it happen.

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