Service provider takeaway: Service providers can use capacity planning and capacity management tools to maximize the value of IT resources.
Capacity planning and capacity management are practices used in a variety of businesses; in a manufacturing company, for example, they're used to manage inventory and raw goods. Airlines use capacity planning and capacity management to determine when to buy more aircraft. Electric companies use them to decide when to build power plants and transmission networks. By the same token, IT departments use capacity planning and capacity management to derive maximum value and use from servers, storage, networks and facilities (power, cooling and floor space) while meeting service-level objectives or requirements.
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Service providers can add value to capacity planning and capacity management tools by using them to help customers plan their infrastructure resource needs and determine which software licenses need to be upgraded and when, what technology replacement and upgrade opportunities exist, and when to adopt new technologies and associated services.
Plugging into capacity planning and management
There are a number of ways service providers can plug into the capacity planning and management ecosystem. For instance, cross-technology domain event correlation connects the dots across various IT resources to transform fragments of event activity into useful information on how, where, why and by whom resources (servers, storage, networks, facilities) are being used.
Akorri, Continuity, EMC (Smarts), Onaro (now part of NetApp) and WysDM are examples of vendors with software tools that support cross-technology domain event correlation. These tools can also be used to support other infrastructure resource management (IRM) functions beyond performance and capacity planning. Data protection management, change and configuration validation or management and compliance coverage analysis are some of the additional IRM functions offered.
There are other tools, aside from event correlation and analysis software, that support capacity planning management. They include system or storage resource management (SRM) tools, which collect and report on resource usage. Some can be as simple as utilities provided by the host operating system. Others are purpose-built tools from Hewlett-Packard, EMC and IBM, as well as from specialist vendors like Aptare, BMC, Monosphere, Tek-Tools and TeraCloud.
One tool that might be overlooked for capacity management and planning is Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets are a popular means for organizing and modeling or analyzing performance and capacity data to identify trends and develop forecasts. But in some advanced user cases, specialized or purpose-built products from vendors like BMC or SAS can be employed.
Capacity planning and management service opportunities
Beyond delivering the tools themselves, service providers can offer advice around, for example, whether, and when, to use a particular capacity planning or capacity management tool or other infrastructure resource management or monitoring tools. Providers can help customers leverage capacity planning and capacity management to plan for the adoption, implementation and long-term operation of an integrated virtual server and storage environment. Finally, providers can offer education and transition training for existing customers or their new employees.
If you are new to capacity planning, check out the Computer Measurement Group (CMG), which is focused on cross-technology, vendor- and platform-neutral performance and capacity planning management. In general, I recommend starting simple -- build on existing or available experience and skill sets for your initial service offerings. Identify service offerings that will maximize positive results for both you and your customers to gain buy-in and evolve to more advanced solutions.
Next, provide more comprehensive and encompassing software tools and professional service offerings that include regular proactive monitoring and reporting of how IT resources are being used when compared to forecasted results. Unless your business model is to focus on a particular technology domain vertical, look at providing services across different IT infrastructure resource technology domains along with facilities (power, cooling, floor space) to understand the interdependencies of how an application uses the different resources and the subsequent cause and effect.
This cross-technology domain becomes even more valuable if you are looking to address the needs of clients deploying virtualization solutions such as VMware or Virtual Iron or to support applications that have many interdependencies.
About the author
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst of independent storage consultancy The StorageIO Group (www.storageio.com), has spent time as a capacity planner and performance analyst. Read more about server, storage and network capacity planning and capacity management in Chapter 10 of Greg's book Resilient Storage Networks at www.storageio.com/book.htm. Email Greg and share a story about how your organization used capacity planning to add value to a client's shop.