Monday, 25 March 2013

Take a Capacity Healthcheck

Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys: we all recognize the importance of looking after your vital organs - and regularly take medical advice whenever we have concerns.  Yet it is not the fitness of individual organs that causes concern - it is the fitness of the weakest. 

But what about our IT enterprise?  It's not uncommon - even in 2013 - to come across siloed thinking that stifles the health of the organisation.  Purchasing decisions are made within the silos, leading to distorted allocations of capacity based on political, rather than engineering needs.  Further - due to the manifestation of these silos, entropy increases as financial accountability struggles to permeate the organisation.  Provisioning decisions are made on a risk-averse basis without insight into how business demands translate into capacity requirements.

And now it's time to change.

The financial crisis has caused a significant change in emphasis in most major corporations.  IDC estimate that over 50% of major corporations are actively planning investments in better capacity management functions.  Cloud-sourcing is on the increase to assist with the deferment of cost, and a refocus of investment on the core business.  Capacity has become a commodity, and in an open economy, is becoming subject to the same commercial forces that balance cost and quality in any marketplace.

But how can enterprises leverage their purchasing power, when they don't know how much commodity capacity they really need?  How can they right-size investments and defer costs without incurring risk to their top-line revenues?

Actually, this is a question that enterprises have addressed in many of their other lines of operation.  Full financial accountability has ensured the right-sizing of many other enterprise assets; whether that is employees, hot-desks, freight containers or manufacturing capacity.  Successful companies have figured out that costs must be aligned proportionately with revenues.  The only thing that makes IT different is the complexity, and the lack of insight.

So where to start in right-sizing IT?

The answer is perhaps startlingly clear - you should begin where you always begin, with your requirements in mind: measure capacity consumption across all silos.  The trick then is to bring in a method of normalization, a model library that provides weighting factors according to the make and configuration of your estate.  This same method can then be applied to plan a migration, transposing configurations easily to determine the optimum sizing on alternative real-estate.

So what's stopping you? Find a friendly capacity management service provider and ask them about their IT Capacity Healthcheck. If they know what they're doing: they'll get their scheduler out straight away.  And if they don't? Well - drop me a tweet or an email and I'll point you in the right direction.