IT Moratoriums Don’t Work

There can be no such thing as an IT moratorium in today’s enterprise network infrastructure. In theory, IT moratoriums — halting critical application and infrastructure adds/changes during particularly busy business periods — appear logical.

When the business demands that the enterprise network remain stable and free from potential outages that might be caused by routine IT work, it stands to reason that such IT operations should cease until the moratorium period has ended. After all, a large number of system outages are due to human error.

While IT moratoriums may appear to be a legitimate way to ensure uptime for critical business infrastructure, rarely do they ever work as planned.

Let’s look to the US retail industry as an example. It’s common for IT management to attempt an IT moratorium during the busy retail months of October through December. During this critical selling period, any system or network downtime is amplified, so efforts are made to minimize downtime. Added to this is the fact that online shopping accounts for an increasing percentage of revenue, requiring systems to be operational around the clock.

IT Moratoriums: A Retail Example

A retail business may, with all good intentions, institute an IT moratorium where all networks, servers, and applications be frozen for these three months. Such IT moratoriums are usually made with the caveat that changes and updates will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Situations inevitably crop up during this period requiring critical changes in order to maximize revenue. Thus your IT moratorium simply becomes just another approval layer added to the process of implementation.

Some may place blame on the IT manager or CIO who is letting all these changes slip through during a supposed moratorium. This is inaccurate. For example, critical security updates that must be made during the busy season will lead to the need to update VM software, which leads to network updates — and so on. Everything is interconnected and often overlaps.

I’ve also seen situations where lines of business demand new tools that they suddenly require because of the uptick in business during the IT moratorium. A great example of this in retail is the sales manager who is suddenly looking to deploy the latest software update so he can accurately monitor and mine the customer metrics gathered during Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping times.

It’s time to face the fact that IT moratoriums are impossible these days. Busy seasons should not be looked at as the period of time to slow down IT work. Rather, it’s up to IT to help to streamline IT processes so they can completed in a timely manner. Important IT projects and maintenance are high priorities; decisions about these need to be made quickly; and communication about these changes has to be timely, clear, and effective.

Practicing this approach to IT updates and upgrades year ’round will keep your enterprise network running effectively during times of critical need.

About the Author

Andrew Froehlich, a network engineer and IT consultant, is a contributor to, a UBM Tech community.


Andrew Froelich
Andrew Froehlich is the President and Lead Network Architect at West Gate Networks, an IT consulting firm based in Northern Colorado that specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs. He has well over a decade of enterprise networking experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.
Andrew Froelich
Tags: Data Center,IT Security,Software,Storage,Technology,Virtualization