Friday, 7 November 2014

Gap analysis - five studies in the hard pressed retail sector (Mind the Gap 5 of 10)

As mentioned at the beginning of this series the examples I’ve chosen to share with you are typical of the hard pressed retail sector where the economic downturn is having an impact on everything.

So, rather than capacity management defining what equipment is needed, it’s more likely to be told it will have 10% less money to provide the same services including double the number of users (due to mergers and acquisitions) with the same hardware and 10% less staff!

Be frugal, do things just in time, but make sure that the mission critical services continue to be supported with high availability and good performance.

I’ve chosen five major studies at particular sites, they can be reviewed at a high level to
demonstrate the variety of approaches and expertise involved.

A short study at a successful ecommerce site will demonstrate the difficulty of establishing business processes when the business growth was such that capacity planning amounted to deciding how many new machines should be added to each pool of the multi-tier solution every day.

A long study at a telecoms provider will show the situation where a CMT was doing CMP well and ensuring good use of existing capacity and planning well the future, but without reporting it widely or well.

A short review of a public sector site will show that it had understood the requirement for ITSM processes and documented proposed ITIL processes in some detail but had little resource to actually do it.

A short study at a finance house will show that there was the experience and expertise within the data center for effective and efficient capacity management, but less coverage outside their own domain.

The ad hoc retailer was too busy reacting to ad hoc project demands to establish any processes.

Each of these five sites have different levels of CMP. Reporting on their own CMP activities
varied from nil to extensive. But for different reasons, all five required the capacity management process to provide the measurement numbers they needed for all the services provided by IT.

The ecommerce site felt that non-optimal upgrades were fine so long as the growth continued. A short review of the capacity would remove the panics for performance.

The telecoms provider had the process in place but had no demonstrable deliverables or external measures of performance.

The public sector site had limited resources that were absorbed into daily performance issues and project work rather than establishing the framework to avoid such issues.

The finance house had previously worked to a protocol of triplexing everything and making sure that there were always three levels of support for every key component (such as power supply by grid, generators and solar panels with triplexing of each). However, as times change, so the move was towards duplexing and 50% spare capacity based on peak of peak predictions.

For the retailer, life was dominated by the economic downturn and so everything was ad hoc with less staff and more servers.

In all cases, much the same approach was used for the gap analysis study.

I’ll be looking at the results of two of these studies in more detail, beginning with the Finance House which was doing effective capacity management but wanted to improve the governance on Monday

Adam Grummitt
Distinguished Engineer

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