In a perfect world, an organization’s IT requirements are inexhaustible. As new users attempt to access the systems, network bandwidth is never an issue, no matter how wide an audience an application attracts. Increased data volume is handled without causing a disturbance, even when multiple new content streams are introduced into the environment. Everything just continues to work as it has since it was first implemented, with clockwork efficiency. It’s a really nice place to work. Unfortunately, there are no openings at this time.
The real world that most IT professionals inhabit does not offer access to these infinitely extensible computing resources. Sometimes, disk space runs out. An application tries to store a record into a database and the procedure fails due to lack of available storage. This can lead to a wide variety of results from a simple error message to a domino effect that completely shuts down a system. It might invalidate an online purchase or prohibit your sales team from closing a deal. You want to avoid this kind of thing if you care about your computer systems and business.
The Role of Capacity Planning
Capacity planning is a technique used to ensure that your IT environment has adequate resources to provide the expected level of service to internal users and external customers. This approach is not restricted to computing resources and has been widely used in other areas of business and industry. It can involve many types of resources ranging from skilled staff members, network bandwidth, and the availability of CPUs to power the applications and databases that are required by your users.
Most businesses are not static and are subject to changing demands and requirements from their customers. As a company grows, it’s a logical assumption that it will need more physical resources to handle increased workflow. The real question is where these resources will be needed. Simply throwing more storage when the looming issue is network overload will not address the problem. Deteriorating server performance and a lack of technically adept personnel are issues that must be dealt with in very different ways.
Through a robust practice of capacity planning, an organization can identify the specific resources that will be stressed when providing for increased demand. The goal is to stay ahead of the curve and not get blindsided with sudden spikes in usage that lead to significantly degraded performance or unexpected downtime. Failing to implement capacity planning is a recipe for disaster.
Performing Capacity Planning
There are several steps that work together in the creation of a viable capacity planning strategy.
Analyzing and estimating demand is the first step in developing a capacity planning initiative. Without a view toward how your business expects to grow or which areas of your computing environment need to be strengthened you have no chance of putting the right resources in place.
Translating demand into capacity requirements is the next step and needs to be performed by individuals with explicit knowledge of the systems under review. For example, if demand analysis indicates that the introduction of a new service will triple the number of daily visits to a web application, there are several aspects of the system that may need to be modified. These include increased network and CPU demand and may also call for the storage infrastructure to be enhanced.
At this point in the process, it is critical to understand your current capacity and any requests for resources that are already in the procurement pipeline. Purchasing excess capacity in any area is a waste of financial resources and can be avoided by applying the knowledge gained in capacity planning efforts.
Coordinating supply, demand, and the goals of your business is the final step in the process. The big picture needs to include the resources currently available and the projected demands on them. This should include business plans such as mergers that are on the horizon that may necessitate a restructuring of your IT environment. In some cases, the results of performing capacity planning will indicate that concerns can be addressed through methodically reallocating resources.
The Right Tools are Essential for Capacity Planning
The IT environment of a 21st Century business is a complex web of interconnected systems. Capacity planning in such an environment requires specialized tools that address the types of systems that are critical to your organization. IDERA’s Precise for Databases is one of those tools. Its focus is on monitoring database transactions to identify performance bottlenecks that may impact users.
Precise allows your technical team to drill down to find the root cause of issues so their effects can be minimized. Reviewing this information can shed light on particular areas of your database infrastructure that may be suffering from a lack of capacity. A review of historical trends can lead to taking proactive measures before capacity ever becomes a concern.
Independent research has shown that among the many benefits of using Precise is the ability of organizations to perform more efficient planning for future capacity requirements. Businesses that make use of SQL databases to serve their customers should take a close look at this tool. It can tell you what you need to know about what you need before it becomes a problem.