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Enterprise Capacity Planning is a program which epitomizes the adage, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.  Too often we look at capacity management myopically. We focus on a particular portion of the environment (i.e. storage, network, server, etc.). Enterprise capacity planning, on the other hand, encompasses all of the elements of the environment, including HVAC, power, floor space, and the like. Therefore, we must also understand our loads, pipeline for the future, and end of life components.

Subsequently, we must track and trend assets within the IT supply chain (applications, infrastructure, facilities, services, etc.). We cannot manage that which we do not measure, and we cannot measure that which we do not know about. One of the most neglected points of the enterprise capacity planning cycle is the decommission stage (end of life). It is not neglected out of arrogance or ignorance for the most part. It is neglected out of a lack of time. We spend a lot of time and effort monitoring infrastructure and putting in “new” elements in the environment; leaving decommissioning to be done in whatever time we have left, which is generally none.

As a part of the overall scheme to manage IT, we must first establish services that are consumed by internal and external customers. Unlike the historical consumption of resources (i.e. hardware, software, and storage), we must manage a shared set of resources efficiently, cost effectively, rigorously, and simply with agility and justice for all. A consumer whom is over taxing these shared resources must balance that consumption with compensation. Likewise, a consumer whom is under-utilizing these shared resources must be right-sized (“balanced”) for proper consumption and compensated proportionately.

If we are to do this, we must understand the key metrics which are important to the services we provide. This dictates that we examine “ourselves” on a regular basis to adjust and adapt to the changes in demand, market, and industry. The business of IT is no longer solely inward focused; therefore, the connection with the business element must be firmed up. Assumptions and assertions are no longer acceptable. We can no longer assume what the mission critical applications or services are that support mission critical business functions as an example. Too often in the past, this has been business as usual and shops have been way off. For instance, one shop recently had indicated 55 mission critical applications while the business units had 55 mission critical business functions. When correlated, the business function and the application lists had less than 25% matching items.

The fundamental “business” of IT must be understood for the organization which it supports. More recently IT supports external customers such as cloud and SaaS consumers, not just the systems on which customers rely internal to the organization. To meet this challenge and manage capacity and IT, we must build a firm base with constant governance and continuous improvement. We must stop thinking in terms of silos (albeit important in the overall scheme) and consider the whole when planning for capacity and managing IT long term. While network and server capacity management is fairly mature, storage capacity management is fairly infantile, not for a lack of effort. Therefore, we must take advantage of current efficiencies and shore up our inefficiencies as delivered in service form. Vagueness and assumption must be driven from the IT and Capacity Management landscape in return for specifics, standards, and policies which support the execution of a strategy based upon a vision for the organization.

One Response to “Enterprise Capacity Planning: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts”

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