What Is Capacity Planning?
Capacity planning is an essential activity practiced in a wide range of industries and market sectors. It enables an organization to project where resources will be needed so business objectives and customer demands can be met successfully.
Effectively planning for capacity requirements is particularly important when considering a company’s information technology (IT) capabilities. Falling short of necessary resources can negatively impact mission-critical systems resulting in the loss of customer confidence, revenue, and the ability to compete with market rivals.
Capacity Planning Goals
The primary goal of capacity planning is to satisfactorily answer three big questions. The information derived from these answers will help determine what steps need to be taken to address any potentially looming capacity issues.
How much capacity do you currently have?
The first step in a capacity planning initiative is to identify the resources that are currently available. This activity involves discovering and inventorying all infrastructure components to obtain a snapshot of the current capacity in the environment. Storage, network bandwidth, and processing power are some of the items that need to be investigated in this phase of capacity planning.
How much of the available capacity are you currently using?
Once you have determined the resources that are available in your computing environment, the next step is to evaluate current usage patterns. During this phase, it may become apparent that there are infrastructure components that are already nearing their capacity limits and should immediately be addressed.
When will you run out of capacity?
This is the hardest of the three questions to answer. It requires a deep knowledge of an organization’s current business objectives as well as insight into future growth. New systems being rolled out need to be properly sized to account for growth and perhaps fluctuating seasonal demands. The intent is to successfully identify the trends affecting capacity and accurately project the resources needed to meet them.
Capacity planning benefits include increased efficiency, cost savings, and reduced risk to the business. Following are five of the biggest benefits and advantages of capacity planning:
1. Deferring expenditures
Dependable capacity planning can help defer expenditures in certain situations. With a deep understanding of current capacity, organizations may be able to defer expenditures on hardware resources until a later date. It may become apparent that purchases under consideration are not necessary at this time to meet current and projected demand.
2. Aligning capacity with business requirements
Engaging in capacity planning can point out areas where capacity and business requirements are not adequately aligned. It may be possible to shift current resources to address these gaps or may require the addition of more capacity in a given infrastructure component.
3. Reducing costs with planned spending
Planned capacity purchasing will invariably be less expensive than trying to obtain resources quickly to address an emergency situation. Discounts or other advantages that may accompany planned increases in capacity will often not be available if an unexpected resource shortage suddenly arises.
4. Diminishing the risk to current and new applications
A lack of capacity can cripple the ability of current and new applications to meet customer demand. The ultra-competitive market of the 21st Century means prospective customers won’t wait around for slow-responding systems and databases. Badly performing internal systems can put a business at a competitive disadvantage and lead to lost revenue and inefficiencies.
5. Decreasing the need for emergency changes
Emergency changes required to address unexpected capacity shortages are expensive and fraught with danger. Having to purchase and install storage to address a growing database during peak production hours is a recipe for disaster. Practical capacity planning can eliminate most or all of these types of emergency changes.
Capacity Planning Tools
IDERA’s Uptime Infrastructure Monitor is a versatile tool that monitors your complete environment from a unified dashboard. It can be used to track service-level performance trends for service level agreement (SLA) reporting and compliance. The tool also serves as a viable capacity planning solution that can help a business stay ahead of resource demand and meet business objectives.
Uptime’s cross-platform monitoring and reporting functionality provides the necessary information to answer the three big capacity planning questions described above. With Uptime, teams can see a unified view of current capacity and identify trends for future growth. Capacity forecasting displays instant graphs on critical server resources including memory, CPU, disk, and I/O.
Historical capacity data is available for forensic “Time Travel” reporting, enabling teams to study past capacity issues and identify effective solutions. Uptime consolidates capacity information from all of your environment’s Windows, Linux, virtual, and cloud servers to present a complete picture of current capacity and future trends. It will help your organization take advantage of the benefits of capacity planning.