The need for capacity planning
Naveen Mishra, Senior Research Analyst, Enterprise
Systems, Gartner India, says that, if done right, capacity planning (CP) can
ensure a smoothly-run business with a minimum of IT upgrades and downtime
Capacity planning (CP) is fast emerging as a critical requirement in large
organisations. This is triggered by the pace at which change occurs in the overall
business as well as the business processes.
IT has to constantly align itself seamlessly with these changes. For this it
is necessary to understand the business different dimensions /matrices
and measure them effectively. Capacity planning has also changed and become
more complex, costly and difficult due to constant change in the current business
and IT scenario.
A proper CP ensures a healthy IT infrastructure which
is geared to meet the organisations future needs. It also provides
the enterprise and CIOs with timely and strategic insights so they can
not only utilise existing resources to the maximum, but also plan proactively
for future needs
A proper CP ensures a healthy IT infrastructure which is geared
up to meet the organisations future needs. It also provides the enterprise
and CIOs with timely and strategic insights so they can not only utilise existing
resources to the maximum, but also plan proactively for future needs.
Changing Environment, New Models
It is imperative for the enterprise and CIOs to understand how and where CP
is implemented. This is because it is no longer possible to follow the legacy
styles of CP.
Since the mid 1990s there has been a gradual shift from the earlier centralised
model to a hybrid procurement style. Though some procurement is done at the
central level, equal amounts of procurement are also done at local, site and
process levels. This is because different needs exist even within an enterprise.
With all the occurring changes, it is very difficult to do CP at one go. It
is quite painful because you cannot have a constant and complete view of the
change in IT infrastructure.
CP needs to have the flexibility to adapt to business environment changes. This
is the key challenge that todays CIOs face. So somewhere along the line,
all procurement types have to be integrated with overall corporate and enterprise-wide
CP, provided it is already put in place.
The computing environment has also changed very fast. Procurement
time, which was earlier between six to 18 months, is now just a few weeks. The
net result is that standard tools or CP methods can no longer be used to calculate
the enterprises exact CP.
Variables such as environment changes, intense competition, and procurement
timeline changes drive a new premise for CP. The enterprise now has to take
those changes into account. It has to consider things from the processes viewpoint
instead of a tool-based viewpoint. Otherwise, the enterprise will end up with
unnecessary infrastructure and will have to bear the costs. This will not yield
the desired result.
CP Tool Limitations
Different CP tools are available today but they are isolated tools and infrastructure-focused.
They do not consider the complexity or changing environment in the enterprise.
Nor are existing operations and manpower considered. Hence, they are not robust
enough currently to assist CIOs and define the CP strategy based on business
Vendors also understand that there is a critical need for more flexible tools
which focus on existing organisational capacity to analyse CP. However, there
is no product even close to these needs so far. Nor will there be, in the near
future. The reason is that there are certain aspects which have to be taken
care of at an enterprise level. There are limitations which stop technology
providers from delivering such products.
The tools can only be used as a starting point. They are just the means and
not the end. To understand and perform the audit of present infrastructure and
integrate those components into the assessment is a tedious process. This is
why there is no tool at present which is a complete CP solution.
Existing tools have to be used in a rational manner so that the enterprise can
leverage the tools benefits, while improving business processes so that
existing and available infrastructure/resources are considered in CP and are
Centralised Vs. Hybrid
Large organisations normally have a centralised data centre environment. A CP
process is in place with a centralised command and control operations model.
Here they try to estimate the different types of servers, storage and infrastructure
needs of the enterprise.
However, in organisations where there is hybrid control or
command, there is no single point of control. Here CP becomes much more difficult.
For instance, consider a SAP implementation in an enterprise. The tools and
techniques can help you define how many servers you need for a particular type
of SAP environment in a specific data centre type. However, they do not focus
on existing user organisation, components already installed, already existing
and utilised capacity and so on. Therefore, at the end of the day CIOs end up
buying redundant infrastructure and too much money is spent because of tool-based
Having a centralised structure may not serve business needs. Different processes
may have different needs which in turn trigger enterprise infrastructure changes.
However, when it comes to CP, all structures bring a different set of challenges
such as exactly what, how much and when to buy.
If the right process is in place, you move forward towards real time infrastructure.
This is because the proper process ensures that the organisation is ready to
adapt effectively to any business change without damage to business results.
Indian enterprises, especially BFSI data centres with countrywide operations
are most likely to have successful CP implementations, also large telecom companies
with nationwide operations. Given the large amount of data they carry, it is
imperative for them to work on these lines. Any large enterprise with huge amounts
of data will be early adopters of a proper CP. However, the SME segment is not
working actively on this.
From a CIO Viewpoint
CIOs can get by without a CP team. It is better to understand and consider it
as a process rather than as an issue to be analysed and implemented by running
a tool. This is because if a single process is followed, the organisation can
understand the additional capacity required.
CIOs need to understand that CP is critical and increasingly complex, as the
role of IT increasingly gets integrated with business. Service delivery expectations
are higher each day. CP must be a part of the operations process and should
work cohesively with asset, configuration, and network management.
It is imperative that CIOs focus their attention on CP. But they also need to
change the way in which they do it. It is necessary to start investing in a
small but significant set of resources at the operations and infrastructure
level. This can be part of a consolidation or process-improving project where
CIOs try to identify and smoothen the procurement process and improve CP.
For this, CIOs can use standard methodologies like ITIL as a basis for a driving
process tool and then customise it to suit their own need. This will help prevent
wastage of money on needless infrastructure. This extra amount can instead be
used to leverage technology and innovations like virtualisation and work load
management. Only by following the process viewpoint will the enterprise be able
to move forward and leverage the benefits of real-time infrastructurethe
future of infrastructure.
Global And Indian Trends
User organisations are struggling with CP even globally. India is following
the same trend. In both scenarios, the ground reality is business change.
It is the pace of response to change in IT infrastructure (including servers
and storage) that varies in both these cases. India lags behind in infrastructure
adoption, but in the key challenges that include an approach to CP as a process,
we reflect the global trend.
Future Of CP
CP must be looked at from a process perspective in order to achieve the vision
of Real Time Enterprise (RTE) as well as Real Time Infrastructure (RTI). The
focus must be on operational processes like CP, asset management and configuration
management. Without these the enterprise will struggle to justify use of emerging
All these ensure that the enterprise has an optimal structure from the operation
angle. Only this approach can help the enterprise move forward and achieve RTE
since it will be geared up for any business change and can adapt to changes
As told to Kumar Dawada