Thursday, 31 March 2016

Top 5 Key Capacity Management Concerns for Unix/Linux - Licensing (2 of 12)

As most applications are licensed by the numbers of host CPUs, there is a concern on the cost of hosting applications on fixed physical core systems.  Virtual systems now provide that flexibility of changing the number of vCPUs on a running system or in most cases after a reboot.

Due to this additional complexity, effective Capacity Management is even more important, more specifically where services are sharing both physical and virtualized resources.  With the numbers of systems being virtualized on the increase year on year, there is a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) we should be closely monitoring:

    Reduction in physical estate (servers)

    Reduction in physical space

    Reduction of power usage, cooling, associated costs

The 1990’s and early part of the millennium witnessed a rise in the number of physical distributed systems (UNIX/Windows) to a point where physical data center space and energy demand was becoming an issue.  The introduction of virtualization has helped address these issues, by allowing multiple low usage systems to be virtualized on to a single piece of hardware.  This in-turn had initially started to reduce the number of physical systems hosted within a data center, which removed the need for additional space and/or allowed for that space to be reclaimed.

The reduction of physical components and servers also allowed for a reduction in power usage and if reclaiming space and/or moving systems to a small data center were feasible then the amount of power dedicated to cooling could be reduced.
On Monday I'll be taking a look at Cloud technology.
Jamie Baker
Principal Consultant

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Top 5 Key Capacity Management Concerns for Unix/Linux (1 of 12)

Since UNIX systems were developed back in the 1970’s, things as you’d expect have moved on a long way.  Single CPU systems, the size of washing machines, have been replaced with many racks of multi-core (hyper-threaded) blade servers. 
In more recent years, the re-introduction of virtualization allowed for multiple virtual systems to be hosted on a single piece of hardware via a hypervisor.  Modern data centers will typically host many thousands of both physical and virtual servers.

Physical and Virtual hosts

    Web Servers

    Database hosts
The mix of physical and virtual tends to depend on what applications are being hosted.  It is likely that physical servers will be hosting large RDBMS instances and virtual servers hosting web applications.

On Thursday I'll be taking a look at licensing concerns.
In the meantime why not sign up to come along to our webinar 'Unix and Linux Capacity Management'

Jamie Baker
Principal Consultant

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Capacity Management and Business Value Dashboards

Business Value Dashboards (BVDs) could be a significant step forward for IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) in making that connection with the business, finally getting perceived as a contributor, not just a cost.  Unlike executive dashboards, which have typically tried to present purely IT metrics in a coherent fashion to senior management, BVDs typically are much more closely aligned to particular lines of business.  It helps me to think of the difference between ‘January uptime, 98%’ (Executive Dashboard) and ‘January Uptime 98%, Lost revenue for APAC, $1.5m (BVD)’ 
The latter has certain key differences:

-        It needs the APAC region to provide a link between downtime and the effect on their revenue

-        The need for and desirability for that metric starts with the APAC region, not I&O

-        A lot of information, much of it non-I&O data, might be needed to define that relationship 

Those differences define for me why the BVD needs to be distinct from any product in any specific area of I&O.  Chances are that defining those business metrics starting from an I&O tool will mean the metric is geared towards where that I&O tool is comfortable: network metrics for a network tool; storage metrics for a storage tool; server metrics for a traditional capacity tool.  To have an effective BVD, the need is for the definition to start with the business metric, not be ‘steered’ in this way by what I&O tools can offer.   

For this reason I see non-specific tools as being best suited to being the BVD.  As a provider of a capacity management tool, I don’t see doing that as our role.  That’s not to say we won’t play a critical role in what is displayed, but more about that later. 

There are plenty of good contenders already out there.  I’ve seen excellent examples of BVDs using tools like Splunk and Tableau.  They are specialists in being that ‘dashboards of dashboards’, being the one screen at the top level, pulling together a huge range of disparate data.  As well as capacity data from our athene® software, I’ve seen BVDs with business data such as calls made, orders placed, geographical data, Twitter feeds and more, all heavily dependent on the business application and requirement.  Such dashboard tools are so well established, they also tend to have experienced users, skilled in the techniques needed to manipulate and display the data required by the business units.  

Thinking of my own space, that’s not a job for which a capacity analyst is necessarily qualified.  Their specialization is capacity, and they will concentrate on feeding the right capacity data into the BVD in the right way.  Capacity management and planning are specialist skills.  Practitioners need to understand what is required of them from the business and then have the very difficult job of translating that into data requirements that they can feed forward into a BVD, but the broader composition of the BVD picture is outside their remit if they are to retain sufficient focus on capacity issues.

My preference is to see BVDs provided by dashboard specialists and capacity issues handled by capacity specialists.  I want to see capacity tools that deliver the best capacity management support they can and not  be diluted by attempts to be all things to all people.  Capacity analysts need capacity dashboards, these are not BVDs, but a feature of the capacity tools an analyst uses.

To create the best BVD with the best capacity information as desired within it, this needs to be a two-way street.  Yes, capacity analysts need to understand how to map the desired business metric onto the data they have available, then present data back to the BVD that enables it to show performance against that target.  Of course, critical in doing that is having the right data available – traditional capacity management.

In addition, the capacity analyst still has a job to do outside any consideration of the BVD.  To do this effectively means taking business data and using that as part of their day to day capacity management: correlating business data against observed capacity metrics; understanding how variance in one affects the other; building a pool of data that enables forecasting of capacity to be more accurately attuned to business change.

It's for this reason that with our own software we have concentrated on providing an open interface to exchange data between athene® and a huge range of other products.  Dashboards and BVDs are the latest incarnation of where we both deliver and receive information.  Our role is not to be the BVD, but to feed it and support it, to help bridge that gap between I&O and be seen as a contributor to business goals, not just a cost.

Andrew Smith
Chief Executive Officer

Friday, 18 March 2016

Capacity Management Maturity, Assessing & Improving (4 of 4)

Our Capacity Management Maturity Survey helps you to see where your organization scores on the Maturity Scale.

Capacity Management Maturity is not easy to achieve.

Most organizations that have dedicated Capacity Management functions or teams typically score either a 2 or a 3 in this model. Organizations that do not have dedicated teams or functions normally score between a 1 or a 2.

Our survey is a perfect discussion point between the Capacity Manager and management. The results of the survey provide quick feedback on areas to improve.

Using the survey to compare the results for your organization against others in your industry or geography gives an opportunity for you to see where you stack up….possibly identify where you are behind others so that you can catch up.

Take our survey now

It’s the perfect opportunity to put processes in place that give your organization a competitive advantage over others in your industry.

If you missed our recent webinar 'Maturing the Capacity Management Process' catch it on-demand now

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Capacity Management Maturity, Assessing & Improving - 5 levels of process maturity (3 of 4)

As promised today I'll discuss the 5 levels of Capacity Management Maturity.

They are:

Level 1 – Initial
Processes are undocumented and in a state of dynamic and chaotic manner. They tend to be driven in an ad hoc, uncontrolled, and reactive manner. Processes at this level tend to be unstable.

Level 2 – Repeatable
Some processes are repeatable, possibly with consistent results. Discipline is unlikely to be rigorous, but where it exists it may help to ensure existing processes are maintained during stressful periods.

Level 3 – Defined
Sets of defined and documented standard processes are established and subject to some degree of improvement over time.

Level 4 – Managed
Using process metrics, management can effectively control processes and identify ways to adjust and adapt the process to particular projects without losses of quality.

Level 5 – Optimizing

The focus is on continual improvement through both incremental and innovative changes / improvements

Don't forget our webinar today' Maturing the Capacity Management Process'

The final part of my series will be on Friday.

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Monday, 14 March 2016

Capacity Management Maturity, Assesssing & Improving - Setting the Landscape (2 of 4)

What is Capacity Management?

A fairly standard definition of Capacity Management is:

An IT process that helps ensure capacity meets current and a future business requirements in a cost-­‐effective manner.

A welldefined Capacity Management process will focus on four subprocesses:

Business Capacity Management translating business needs and plans into capacity and performance requirements for services and infrastructure.

Service Capacity Management – managing the capacity of live, operational IT services. This includes both proactive and reactive activities to ensure SLAs are met.

Component Capacity Management managing the performance, utilization, and capacity of IT resources and individual IT components

Capacity Management Reporting – To provide other ITSM processes and management with information related to service and component capacity, utilization, and performance

In order to support the process, specific activities (monitoring, analysis, tuning, modeling, etc.) are undertaken in both proactive and reactive ways.

What is Maturity?

A maturity model is a set of structured levels that describe how well the behaviors, practices, and processes of an organization can reliably produce desired outcomes.

Various models exist. For the purposes of this survey, we’ll focus on the Capability Maturity Model, which consists of five levels of process maturity.

I'll tell you the five levels of process maturity in the Capability Maturity Model on Wednesday.

Come along to our webinar on Wednesday 'Maturing the Capacity Management Process'

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Capacity Management Maturity - Assessing and Improving the Effectiveness (1 of 4)

Many organizations have a Capacity Management process or function in place, but no practical way to assess the effectiveness or even the strengths and weaknesses of the process or function.

This led to the development and refinement of a Capacity Management Maturity Survey, consisting of 20 carefully chosen questions that help an organization assess maturity and effectiveness.

Our Capacity Management Maturity Survey is available to complete on line.

Once completed, the results will allow the Capacity Manager to better communicate the importance of Capacity Management and create a plan to fill identified gaps going forward.

Applying this assessment to multiple organizations allows comparisons to be made - between organizations and between an organization and others sharing characteristics such as type of business, geographical location and organizational size, among others.

We're also running a webinar on March 16 'Maturing the Capacity Management Process'
You can register for your place now

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Monday, 7 March 2016

Key Metrics for Effective Storage Performance and Capacity Reporting - Workload Profiles (10 of 10)

As mentioned previously the Read/Write metrics can help you to get a handle on your workload profiles.

Application type is important in estimating performance risk, for instance, something like Exchange is a heavy I/O user.

I’ve also seen examples where virtual workstations were being installed and resulted in a large I/O hit that could have impacted other applications sharing storage.


This is an example of a score card, where you can have a large amount of information condensed in to one easy to view dashboard.


I've included an example below of how you can set up a dashboard and bring key trending and standard reports to you all in one place.

Trending, forecasting, and exceptions with athene®

Storage Key Metrics – Summary

To summarize

        Knowledge of your storage architecture is critical, you may need to talk to a separate storage team to get this information

        Define storage occupancy versus performance

        Discuss space utilization and define

        Review virtualization and clustering complexities

        Explore key metrics and their limitations

Identify key report types and areas that are most important and start with the most critical.

Dale Feiste
Principal Consultant