Monday, 30 January 2017

Capacity Management Maturity, Maslow, and You - Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (4 of 7)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory of psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.
Maslow broke different human needs into 5 levels and represented them graphically on a pyramid.

The most basic needs are the physiological - requirements for human survival.  These include air, water, food, clothing, and shelter.
Moving up the pyramid, we reach the safety needs.  These can include both physical and emotional security needs such as personal security, financial security, health and well-being, and a safety net against accidents and illnesses.
Once these needs are met, the third level of human needs is interpersonal and involves feelings of belongingness.  This can include friendship, intimacy, and family.
Esteem all humans have a need to feel respected and this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect.
Self-actualization the need to be “all one can be” in whatever area is important to the person.  Maslow argued that in order to understand this level of need, all other levels must be mastered.
While one could wonder how this relates to Capacity Management, we’ll see there’s an interesting parallel as we dive into how Maslow and CMMI relate on Wednesday.
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Friday, 27 January 2017

Capacity Management Maturity, Maslow, and You - Levels of maturity(3 of 7)

Just to re-iterate what I said on Wednesday, very few organizations are actually at the Initial level and even fewer are at the Optimized level on the Capacity Management Maturity scale. Most results are between Repeatable and Defined in our experience and today I promised you more detail on each of the levels and what they mean.

Level 1 – Initial
        No process activity
        Regular capacity breaches and outages
        Minimal funding
        No documentation or governance
        All CM activities are reactive
        Small pockets of CM – only in technical silos
        A mixture of platform-specific tools, no CM focus
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.
Organizations at Level 1 tend to not have dedicated Capacity Managers or teams dedicated to Capacity and Performance.  If you ask who manages capacity in the organization, you’ll typically hear that the administrators look at that (and everything else) and that there aren’t capacity problems often because “they buy a lot of hardware and make sure problems don’t happen.”
But problems happen anyway, since throwing hardware at problems doesn’t prevent all of them.
Level 2 – Repeatable
        Some acknowledgment of CM – technical silos actively managing capacity
        No objectives set, all activities still ad hoc
        Some process definition, focus is still reactive
        Pockets of people doing some CM
        Some key metrics captured, individual data sources
        Still very component focused
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.
There are organizations at this level that have Capacity Managers.  These tend to be those organizations who have one person managing thousands of hardware components, usually with inadequate tools, data, and information.  Capacity Managers in these organizations are frequently thought of as firefighters and are as likely to be thought of as ineffective as effective, depending on the current day’s crisis.
Level 3 – Defined
        Capacity Management exists but communication interfaces are undefined
        Objectives set and basic capacity plans produced
        Processes are defined and documented
        Key deliverables are being produced – usually manually
        Roles and responsibilities are defined
        Component level data is being captured and stored centrally
        Reports are being generated automatically
        Component Capacity Management being done well – organization at a minimum is looking at Service Capacity Management
Sets of defined and documented standard processes are established and subject to some degree of improvement over time. 
Organizations that have reached this level are doing a pretty good job of Capacity Management from a technical perspective.
However, in today’s age of cost-cutting, I’d argue that this isn’t enough to guarantee that you’ll be considered vital to the future success of the business.  I’ve seen entire Capacity Management groups dissolved only for the organization to realize a year later how crucial they are.  That’s too late for you, the Capacity Manager.
The key point above to consider is the first one – Capacity Management has to actively consider and make an effort to put in place communication interfaces with various processes and teams:
        Business analysts
        IT management
        Business management
        Other ITSM processes (Incident, Problem, Change, SLM, etc.)
Level 4 – Managed
        Capacity Management is fully implemented and integrated with the business and IT
        Business objectives are defined (and being met)
        The process is proactively focused
        Process, activities, and communication interfaces are now documented
        IT is using defined Capacity Management processes and activities
        Capacity Management spans all IT with champions ensuring benefits are understood and being realized
        Component and service level tools being used
        Data stored in a CMIS
        Service Capacity Management has been implemented and is actively used
Using process metrics, management can effectively control processes and identify ways to adjust and adapt the process to particular projects without losses of quality.
Ideally, this is a great goal for an organization and the Capacity Manager.  Having a fully implemented Capacity Management process with a proactive focus with communication interfaces defined and actively used means the Capacity Manager and the team/process is considered a vital part of IT and the business.
Level 5 – Optimized
        Capacity Management now embedded in the business and culture
        Awareness of Capacity Management company-wide
        All Capacity Management objectives aligned with the business objectives
        Key capacity metrics included in all SLAs with all reactive/proactive elements understood
        An experienced and well-trained group supports the Capacity Management process, including a process owner, manager, and capacity champions
        All communications / interfaces are defined with relevant information automatically exchanged
        A strategic solution has been implemented – includes component, service, and business data
        Data captured is being analyzed and correlated using a CMIS
The focus is on continual improvement through both incremental and innovative changes / improvements.
Few organizations actually reach this level of maturity, but there are a few things here that the individual Capacity Manager can strive to implement.
The two key things here, in my opinion, are company-wide awareness of Capacity Management as well as the automatic exchange of information between teams, people, processes, and between IT and the business.
If Capacity Management is providing value to the rest of the business automatically, then that frees the Capacity Manager to provide even more value to the business in other areas, such as finding new interfaces / avenues to provide information or even improving the level of knowledge about specific IT services or the technologies that underpin those services.
On Monday I'm going to take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and start to relate this to Capacity Management.
In the meantime if you're looking to save money by implementing proactive Capacity Management then make sure you attend our Capacity Management Maturity online workshop. There are still a few places left.
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Capacity Management Maturity, Maslow, and You - Capacity Management Maturity (2 of 7)

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 paper, we’ll focus on the Capability Maturity Model, which consists of five levels of process maturity.

As we look at each of these levels, consider how being at each of these levels as an organization can impact the perception of you as the Capacity Manager.
At this point, I’ll admit that very few organizations that have dedicated Capacity Managers fall into the first stage or even the “lower half” of the second stage, but you’d be surprised at how many organizations, even with Capacity Managers, are not as mature as they could be and how that affects the perception of IT and of the CM process.

The five levels we’ll discuss are named slightly differently from the CMMI levels we’ve talked about already.  We’ll call these the levels of Capacity Management Maturity.

  • Initial (or Chaos)
  • Repeatable (or Reactive)
  • Defined (or Proactive)
  • Managed (note this is the equivalent of Quantitatively Managed in the CMMI)
  • Optimized

Based on years of consulting experience, Metron have developed a survey that can help you self-assess your organization’s level of maturity.  Very few organizations are actually at the Initial level and even fewer are at the Optimized level.  Most results are between Repeatable and Defined, in our experience. Click here to complete the survey and find your Maturity level.
On Friday I’ll give you more detail on each of the levels and what they mean.
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Capacity Management Maturity, Maslow, and You (1 of 7)

This blog series will discuss Capacity Management Maturity from two different viewpoints, although it will quickly become obvious that there are similarities between the two lines of thinking.

First, we’ll look at Capability Maturity Model Integration (or CMMI), a process improvement training and appraisal program that is already at the heart of multiple Capacity Management process assessment and improvement models, including Metron’s.
Next we’ll take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in a 1943 paper, which dealt with his theories on human motivation.

While one might think there is little in common between CMMI and Maslow, we’ll dive deeper into the topic and explore whether there is a relationship and more importantly whether there’s some knowledge we can take away from the exercise.
Finally, we’ll look at ways to interpret Capacity Management Maturity and how to improve it over time.

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)

Capability Maturity Model Integration was developed over the last 15 years as a successor to the original Capability Maturity Model, which was developed to improve the usability of maturity models by integrating them into one framework.

        Process improvement training and appraisal

        Developed at Carnegie Mellon University

CMMI was originally applied to software development and was sponsored by the US government, but quickly became a way for analysts and organizations to evaluate the maturity of service management and service management processes.
CMMI consists of 5 maturity levels:

  • Initial
  • Managed
  • Defined
  • Quantitatively Managed
  • Optimizing
These levels are well-defined and can be applied to an organization’s service management capabilities and then can be used to drill down into individual ITSM processes.

These levels are especially useful, because they can be well defined in terms that most will understand and accept.

  • Initial processes are unpredictable, poorly controlled, and chaotic.  Few organizations have processes that fall into this area.
  • Managed Processes are typically project related and typically reactive
  • Defined Organizational level processes that are proactice
  • Quantitatively Managed Processes are measured and controlled
  • Optimizing Focus is on process improvement
CMMI Service Management Examples
CMMI can be used to evaluate an organization and the existence and effectiveness of processes can be used to characterize the maturity of the organization.
Capacity Management is considered to be a process at Maturity Level 3 Defined.  Capacity Management, while having both reactive and proactive focus can only be truly effective if the process is forward looking. 
Some other examples are shown here:
        Capacity Management ML3
        Availability Management ML3
        Service Continuity ML3
        Service Delivery ML2
        Strategic Service Management ML3
        Measurement and Analysis ML2
On Wednesday I’ll look at what Capacity Management Maturity is, in the meantime you might want to sign up to attend our Capacity management Maturity online Workshop running next month.
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Friday, 20 January 2017

What is a Capacity Management Information System (CMIS)?

Formally referred to as the CMIS, and considered a subset of the Configuration Management System (CMS), it is unlikely to be one physical database and more likely to be a number of logical databases that store capacity and performance related data. Typically data such as utilizations, financial and business statistics with additional relationship information being provided by the CMS.

The principles are the same, except we now have an “Information System” that is considered a Configuration Management DB within the CMS.
The CMIS and CMS are part of a larger Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) which is primarily about getting the right data to the right people or group, with an emphasis on refining the bulk of information into what’s important for a particular person/group.

So, it’s just a database right?

I’ll be dealing with questions like these at my free webinar on February 15 along with taking a look at:

  • What are the real challenges in implementing a CMIS?
  • What benefits can be expected?
  • What does it stand for and why is it known as the cornerstone of the capacity management process?
I’ll also explain how a CMIS provides process governance and helps mature the capacity process through a combination of integration, correlation, reporting and planning.

Jamie Baker
Principal Consultant

Monday, 16 January 2017

Why do you need to monitor Business/Application Transaction data?

A good Application Performance Management(APM) tool will give you a LOT of useful information about the workload in your environment. It’ll also present the data in a way that allows various teams to talk in the same language.  

So it will help define what a user transaction is, and where that transaction spends it’s time.

A user action = A transaction
     Log on, Search, Add to Basket, Checkout, Payment = 5 transactions

So what are the benefits, difficulties and issues to avoid when using APM? 


     Common language
     Service based
     Defined SLAs
     Real workload volumes (Planning benefits)

Usual Difficulties

     No tool capturing this data (see my recommendation at the end of this blog)
     No access to the data held (Typically controlled by Operations)
     No import facility to capacity tool

     Exporting data from both tools into Excel and manually cutting and pasting to get combined reports

This is data that is traditionally hard to get hold of.  Either it’s simply not collected, or it’s fragmented and hidden by teams who don’t want to lose control of “their toy”.  And quite often it’s not been designed with the intention of combining its data with something else, like a capacity tool.

If you get or have an APM tool running the last thing you want to do is spend time exporting everything into excel to combine the data.  (88% of spread sheets have errors). 

My recommendation, if you haven't got an APM tool currently, is to take a look at SharePath - it monitors in real time and provides you with the real user experience(not synthetic) 

Also don't forget to register for Dale's 'Performance Management made easy webinar, which examines the problems solved by application performance management (APM) tools, shows how efforts to monitor and troubleshoot complex applications without good visibility can be very tedious and time consuming, and describes different methods that APM tools use to obtain data and compares and contrasts the different approaches.

Phil Bell

Friday, 13 January 2017

Virtualization Capacity Management - making sure server sprawl doesn't become virtual server sprawl

Surely there’s no need for virtualization capacity management after all didn't your move to virtualization correct all that? 

Possibly not - Gartner has been warning of 'virtual server sprawl' for some time.
When planning for the future, the business should be the starting point.

Virtualization capacity management brings together the technology (what resources we need and when we need them) with the business (what we need to achieve and what it should cost).

Moving resources to where they can support requirements and similar activities will all be needed on a day to day basis.
(My video below talking about Virtualization Capacity Management)

Expected savings not as good as anticipated when virtualizing?

For some organizations there is already some disillusionment with virtualization. Capacity management offers the tools and the processes to get the maximum benefit from virtualization.

Virtualization has rapidly become too important to business success to leave to chance. As a minimum any organization needs a clear window onto what is happening on a day by day basis. Where the business is today governs day to day decisions you are taking. Capacity management is the link between the technical data you have and the knowledge of what direction the business wishes to take in the future.

Capacity decisions need to be made at a strategic level and must be made from a 'real' business perspective. What the business needs to achieve needs to be mapped onto the best technological option available to achieve it.

Ask how we can help your Organization to realize savings

Jamie Baker
Principal Consultant

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Performance Management made easy

Monitoring physical IT infrastructure components such as disks, CPU, network, and databases provides important information about system utilization.
Creating and monitoring synthetic transactions for partial views of the user experience and validating application availability provide useful information about what users may be experiencing. However, neither of these provide the actual experience users have when using real applications.

Application Performance and Real User Experience is the new generation of monitoring that provides information about exactly what is happening with user response.

I'll be running a webinar on January 18 which examines the problem solved by application performance management (APM) tools, shows how efforts to monitor and troubleshoot complex applications without good visibility can be very tedious and time consuming, and describes different methods that APM tools use to obtain data, comparing and contrasting the different approaches.

Modern application transactions can start on a smart phone or virtual desktop web browser and span many diverse infrastructure resources before returning results to the users. Knowing how much time is taken across all of these elements is crucial for quickly identifying performance problems.

In my webinar I'll examine:
  • Modern application architecture
  • The problem solved by APM
  • Solving performance problems without APM
  • Users, applications and transactions
  • Different approaches to APM
I'll be sharing some examples with you too.

Registration for this event is now open, so don't forget to book your place.

Dale Feiste
Principal Consultant

Monday, 9 January 2017

Virtualization Oversubscription - What’s so scary? Why are we interested in queuing? (20 of 20)

The reason we were talking about queueing theory is that it’s part of how the hypervisor copes with CPU oversubscription, by queueing the VMs.

VMs Queue for free CPUs

·        Ready Time

·        Co-Stop time

·        Higher utilization = higher contention

·        More concerned about CPU busy than vCPU to logical CPU ratio

You can see when this starts to happen by monitoring ready and Co-Stop metrics.  You should typically be more worried about CPU busy than you are the ratio of CPUs in the VMs to the logical CPUs presented by the hardware.

Because all this is Math, people have written programs to model this, so you can see how busy you can run your hosts before performance becomes unacceptable.

If there is anybody reading this who considered oversubscription to mean poor performance then hopefully I’ve gone some way to showing you that’s not the case.

        Oversubscription does not equal unacceptable performance

        Virtualisation is expecting you to oversubscribe

       It’s the reason it exists (Don’t throw that away.  It costs you money!)

        Take the fear out of oversubscription through proper planning

       Plan for performance, not ratios

Look at the metrics on your systems and use them to model the point where performance will degrade because of utilization.  You cannot do that by looking at the ratio of vCPUs to logical CPUs but you can with utilization figures. Thanks for following my blog series, if you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line.
If you'd like to learn more about managing VMware Capacity then why not try our Pay-to-View workshop
Phil Bell

Friday, 6 January 2017

Virtualization Oversubscription - What’s so scary? Basic Ideas of Queuing (19 of 20)

Queueing theory is pretty simple.

You have a ‘server’.  Think of this as the CPU or the person sat at the checkout scanning groceries.  They work at a constant pace, and are fed with work from a queue.  The Queue is filled by transactions or customers. 

The response time of a transaction (from arriving to leaving), is the sum of the time spent queueing, and being served.  Given identical transactions, or customers, we know the service time is a constant, what can change is the Arrival rate and the time spent in the Queue.

Utilization and Response Time
What we have here is a chart showing response time on the Y-Axis and the utilization of the server on the X-Axis.

The reason the chart starts part way up the Y-Axis is the Service Time.  That’s static.  As the utilization of the server becomes higher the chance of the server being busy when a new transaction/customer arrives increases, and therefore the longer the transaction/customer will spend in the queue.  As we can see, it’s not a straight line.
All of this can be plotted using the formula R = S / (1-U).  Where S is the service time and U is the Utilization of the server.
Benefits of Multiple Servers
When we add in multiple Servers, the line ends up having a more sudden degradation. 

This change is sometimes known as “the knee of the curve”.  The more servers or CPUs we include the higher the utilization of them before the knee of the curve is observed.  This is because there is more chance that a CPU will be available at the moment a piece of work arrives.
Given most of the hosts in a virtualized environment are going to have high numbers of CPUs this means we can run them with pretty high utilizations before queueing takes over.
Consider though that a multiple vCPU VM needs multiple logical CPUs on the host available to do anything.
This has the effect of reducing the number of ‘servers’ or CPUs in the system.  If all your VMs are 4 vCPUs and you have 16 logical CPUs in the host that’s the equivalent of a 1 vCPU VM on a 4 CPU host. 
The moral of the story here is “use as few vCPUs as possible in each VM, and you’ll reduce queueing and improve performance.
Why are we interested in queuing? I'll answer that question in my final blog on Monday.
Phil Bell

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Virtualization Oversubscription - What’s so scary? 18 of 20

Happy New Year!

If you’ve been following my series then you’ll know that just before the Holidays I said that I’d deal with what’s the worst that can happen when you oversubscribe.
So what’s the worst that can happen?

Well if you push things too far, all those things that the Hypervisor can do to try and keep things running will eventually be overwhelmed.
If you try to use too much memory you’ll start to see ballooning on a consistent basis, then swapping.  At that point performance will degrade rapidly.  Watch active memory values and take ballooning increasing as the indication things are getting tight.

CPU is as always a more gentle decay in performance.  CPU also has it’s indicators that the limits are being approached.  CPU Ready and Co-Stop are indicators that VMs are finding it tricky to find CPUs when they want to do some processing.
The reason CPU degrades differently to Memory is that it’s used differently.  A process is in memory all the time, but only uses a CPU when it needs so CPU busy is dictated by how frequently the CPU is required and for how long.  The performance of a transaction will be dictated by the ‘chance’ that a CPU will not be available when the transaction arrives.  If all the CPUs are busy it’ll enter a queue and this is where queueing theory comes in.

Contention and Queuing
Any system has a finite set of resources.  If you only have a single user trying to use one workstation then there is no contention for the use of that workstation.  As soon as you have more than one user then there is a chance that they will want to use the workstation at the same time.  That’s contention.  It’s perfectly normal and happens inside every OS all the time.  There are lots more process threads than there are CPUs, and when there is contention, then the processes queue.  Poor performance only occurs when queueing becomes excessive.

On Friday I'll go in to more detail about the basic ideas of queuing. In the meantime register for our first webinar of 2017 'Performance Management made easy'
Phil Bell

Monday, 2 January 2017

The dawn of a new year is always a time for reflection as well as looking ahead to what’s to come.

2016 was a busy and successful year for Metron.  We welcomed some new clients who were looking to implement or mature their Capacity Management processes and chose to rely on Metron’s expertise and software solutions to help make this happen. 

We also strengthened our relationships with other clients who recommitted to the idea that Capacity Management is a vital process that must be considered carefully -- even in an age of virtualization, cloud computing, and other newer technologies. 

We traveled to many places this past year – to a variety of industry events where we presented papers and exhibited our solutions and services.  In November, we helped sponsor CMG in La Jolla, CA – and we participated in a big way, delivering ten papers and two training sessions to folks who dedicated an entire week to become more knowledgeable about Capacity Planning and Performance Management.  

So let’s say goodbye and hello to two very important years in Metron’s history.  2016 marked the 30th anniversary of Metron Technology in the UK – started as a consultancy in 1986 and dedicated to Capacity Management ever since.  2017 will be the 15th anniversary of Metron-Athene, Inc. in the United States, providing direct sales and support to North America.  Between the two offices and our worldwide partners, Metron plans to continue to provide Capacity Management software, services, and education well into the future all over the world. 

As far as the changing landscape of IT, Metron is well-positioned to help you manage it – we’ve been here before.  From the advent of Unix, Windows, VMware, SAN storage, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and many other then-new areas of importance, Metron has been there to guide organizations in making the best IT decisions possible in times that seemed different and unsure. 

2017 will prove to be an exciting year.  We’ll be providing monthly webinars on a variety of important topics, regular workshops on general Capacity Management topics, delivering papers at shows all over the US, UK, and the world, and most importantly working hard to ensure that our Capacity Management solutions continue to be well-equipped to support our clients, old and new, to the ever-changing IT landscape. 

I’m ready to fasten my seatbelt and start the journey.  I hope you are too – please join me. 

Rich Fronheiser


 PS – Why don’t you register for our community and look through some of the webinars and papers we presented in 2016?  Simply navigate to this page --