How to Perform Valuable Capacity Planning

Actively performing capacity planning can prove to be a very valuable exercise for growing enterprises. It’s always preferable to be aware of potential resource shortfalls before they manifest themselves and cause problems that negatively impact a business. This is especially important when mission-critical systems are under review. The inability to provide the necessary capacity can result in unhappy customers and lost revenue.

Three basic questions need to be answered during capacity planning. You need to know:

  • What type of capacity is required;
  • How much will be needed to address future demand;
  • When does the additional capacity have to be obtained and installed?

Capacity planning is a practice that lends itself to many different types of businesses, particularly those that need to supply some kind of service or commodity to their customers. Based on the specific company or industry under review, capacity is measured using a variety of metrics. It may be that more human resources are needed for a project or additional delivery vehicles are required to handle a new product rollout. 

In the IT world, capacity planning means ensuring that the necessary computing resources to keep an organization operating efficiently are available at all times. This can mean everything from network bandwidth to disk space for corporate databases. In small shops, capacity planning may be able to be done manually. As an IT environment grows, it becomes harder to effectively predict capacity demands.

Capacity Planning Strategies

A variety of strategies can be used by organizations to plan capacity requirements. The strategy chosen can influence the method in which capacity growth is financed and the ability of the enterprise to nimbly meet new demands. 

  • A lead strategy is an aggressive approach to capacity planning where a company anticipates a demand increase and takes proactive measures to ensure they are met. It’s a great strategy for keeping additional capacity available but can result in unused resources if the predicted demand increase does not materialize. 

  • A lag strategy is a reactive technique of capacity planning that waits until increased demand requires additional resources to maintain system operation. This strategy eliminates the problem of over-provisioning that can accompany speculative changes in demand. It also reduces the ability of an enterprise to quickly respond to increased interest in their service or product. 

  • Match strategy makes small modifications based on changing market conditions. It attempts a moderate capacity planning path that combines elements of the lead and lag alternatives. 

  • The adjustment strategy also makes small modifications, but they are based on consumer demand rather than market conditions. This needs to be an iterative process that pays attention to consumer trends.

Some common characteristics apply to any of these capacity planning strategies. 

Essential Components of Capacity Planning

For IT capacity planning to provide real value to an organization, it must furnish specialized information and answer pointed questions about the current and future state of the computing environment. Following are the necessary components of viable capacity planning.

  • Accurate capacity data is mandatory. Without reliable and consistent data, any capacity planning initiative is doomed to failure.
  • The ability to monitor capacity trends helps an organization make the correct provisioning decisions.
  • Alerting on capacity problems is useful for planning and addressing immediate issues that impact system performance.
  • Locating the root cause of capacity problems is indispensable in resolving current issues and ensuring they don’t recur.
  • Maintaining a repository of historical capacity trend data enables deep analysis that can uncover factors that lead to resource shortages.

Use a Reliable Capacity Planning Tool 

IT capacity planning is closely linked with the process of monitoring a computing environment. Monitoring can detect resource and performance bottlenecks that may indicate inadequate capacity. A comprehensive monitoring tool provides the best and most productive overview of all computing resources.

Uptime Infrastructure Monitor is just such a comprehensive monitoring tool and provides the capacity planning features organizations need to keep up with changing demands. It provides unified views of capacity across multiple platforms so you can answer the three basic capacity planning questions for all areas of your environment. Uptime works with physical, virtual, and cloud servers. The tool gives the team access to instant graphs that display critical server resources like CPU, memory, disk, and I/O performance.

Historical trend reporting gives an enterprise the data necessary to accurately predict its capacity needs. A “Time Travel” enables an IT team to travel back in time to identify how and why previous capacity issues occurred whether they happened a few minutes or many months ago. The features of Uptime Infrastructure Monitor, combined with a capacity planning strategy, can help organizations meet the IT needs of their employees and customers. 

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