Not so long ago I was talking with the CIO of a multi-billion financial organization. They offered me the following statement about Capacity Management at their organization:
‘We don’t need Capacity Management. We’ve just purchased more than enough capacity from IBM to see us through at least the next three years.’
They were talking about distributed systems: Unix and Windows, physical and virtual, not mainframe.
As a lifelong worker in the field of Capacity Management, my heart sank (again!). It was far from the first time I have heard this, and I know that talking a manager out of this approach is never easy. So I thought I would think again about why I thought this statement was so wrong. Here are the questions that came to my mind.
What is wrong with this statement?
‘don’t need Capacity Management’
- This could be true, perhaps anyone can get everything right by guesswork, but is ‘finger in the air’ an approach you would want to defend to your management or external audit?
- Have you got a ‘get out’, given changing IT models and purchasing scenarios: Cloud, SaaS…?
‘more than enough capacity’
- How do you know?
- Why not just buy enough, rather than ‘more than enough’?
- I love ‘em, but is selling this much capacity really the ‘partnership’ that larger vendors profess to offer?
‘to see us through ‘
- Is this the same as ‘guarantee acceptable service levels aligned to changing business requirements to maximize our contribution to organizational effectiveness over a three year period?
‘at least the next three years ‘
- How do you know it is enough for three years+?
- Could the money spent on capacity you won’t need for one or two years have been spent on something else that would bring more benefit to the business in the interim?
- How much more kit could you have got for the same money if you had bought it when you required rather than up to three years before it is needed?
Of course there are two sides to every coin, so….
What is right with this statement?
- Well, at least they had thought about capacity.
Making the statement suggests, no matter how alarmed I might be about the logic underpinning it, that they had done ‘Capacity Management’. Even if it was just asking IBM what was needed or sticking a finger in the air and guessing, they were contradicting themselves: they had done some Capacity Management so they must have perceived a need for it. My task was just to get them to think about the balance between what was wrong with their statement and what was right.
Are there any other ‘wrongs’ and ‘rights’ ‘with the statement that you would like to offer?