What Is Server Change Management?

M. McGee
M. McGee
Changes to server hardware can take days or weeks to complete.
Changes to server hardware can take days or weeks to complete.

Server change management focuses on the process of moving a system from one computer server to another. This field contains the entire process, from deciding if a move is necessary and cost-efficient to the process of training workers and troubleshooting problems. Since the field covers so many different aspects of business, server change management is usually a cross-department project, or a specialized third-party team comes in to oversee the process. This is part of a much larger business process called change management, which looks at many types of large-scale business change projects.

The first part of server change management is always defining the change itself. Even a business of moderate size will have a number of different servers that operate in conjunction to create the business’s network. These are made up of hardware servers, the physical computers that the programming sits upon, and software servers, programs that operate business functions and services. Server change management governs both of these areas and each presents unique challenges when changing.

In order to define the change, the change managers look over the systems in question and determine exactly what servers need modification. For example, sometimes one software database server will need modification and another will not, even though they both connect to the same systems. Once the exact focus of the change is determined, the managers begin to find processes that connect to the changing system. Finding all the connected programs is vital, as a single small change can create ripples through associated systems and play havoc with the network.

After determining the need and scope of the change, the actual changeover begins. This might be a quick process or a very long one, all depending on the nature of the change. A small change, like switching software mail servers, may only take an hour or two if there aren’t any problems. Larger changes, like physical hardware changes or switching to a virtual operating system server from standard workstations, may take days or weeks to complete.

Once the actual switch is finished, the final phase of server change management can begin. This phase typically involves working directly with end users to get them acclimated to the change. The first part is training on the new system, and that is followed by a period of technical troubleshooting and tech support. This part of the process can go on indefinitely, but, in many cases, the process is time-limited via a prearranged contract.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


The users are the hardest part. For the technical parts of it, you have all the change management tools and software that you need.

The real task comes at the end, when you have to get everyone up to speed on the new equipment or programs. It really seems to me that there is something about computers that can take people who are smart in pretty much every other way, and make them unable to deal with the smallest change in a program. I don't get it, which is why I let the young guys in my department handle that part.


@winslo2004 - You are absolutely right there. The problem is that you generally have several different groups or departments getting involved. This guy has to do his job before that guy can do his job, and so on.

The other thing is, in a big company it is really hard to make things happen in a preset order. It seems like nobody is quite ready when you need them to be. And of course the project is half completed, so now the system is down until everyone gets where they need to be. So it causes a chain reaction. Frustrating.


I am in the IT department at my job. I have been in charge of implementing a change management plan a few times, and it is always an adventure. The planning and documenting is easy enough, that just takes time. The trick is to make the reality match what it says on the paper.

The old Army phrase "no plan survives contact with the enemy" is very applicable here.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Changes to server hardware can take days or weeks to complete.
      By: Amy Walters
      Changes to server hardware can take days or weeks to complete.