Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? Conclusion (7 of 7)

The perception of IT by many has changed.  End-users and customers see IT as a commodity – no different than throwing a light switch.  Therefore, those of us in IT Capacity Management must work hard to combat the perception that improving performance or managing capacity is as easy as throwing a switch or buying another blade.

This can be done in two key ways, by constantly:

·        Communicating to those in other ITSM processes and the business.

·        Building value by maturing existing Capacity Management processes.

That said, it’s always important to evaluate your career and how you can improve your own situation.  Whether you want to stay with your current company or move on…and whether you want to stay in Capacity Management or move up to you.  I hope.  That’s not always the case, and I’ve seen very talented people looking for work through no real fault of their own.
But any such blow can be minimized by preparing for the next challenge even while you’re working on the current one.  Take technical training, ITIL (or other good practice framework) training, or company specific training.  Take advantage of tuition reimbursement when possible and never miss an opportunity to network, network, network.

If it's Capacity Management training that you're interested in then check out our on-demand workshops

And never stop thinking about where you’d like to be, which may or may not be where you currently are.

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Monday, 26 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? Being ready for the next challenge…(6 of 7)

There are a ton of career-improvement and life-improvement books in the marketplace.

An early mentor of mine used the word pivot a lot, though, and it’s stuck with me over the years.  As a basketball fan and referee, I’ve always liked the term for more than one reason.
Everyone is in a different place – out of work, having a job but wanting to change their career or career trajectory, enjoying what they do but wanting to make more of a difference.

A new book called “Pivot” by Adam Markel describes the small changes one must make in their thinking and behavior that can lead to a big change in both personal and professional outcomes.  I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to make small, but real changes in their lives.
Now for some specific recommendations for the Capacity Manager, looking at how you can make some changes – some small, some bigger.
There are two career-based reasons to seek out education – to perform your current job better and to position yourself better for future opportunities.  The best choices can be used for both reasons.
Your organization uses certain technologies – becoming expert in those will make you a better Capacity Manager. 
        Technical training / certifications
        ITIL training / certifications
        Project Manager training / certifications
For example, if you are responsible for performance and capacity of VMware systems, becoming VCP certified will make you much more valuable to the organization and someday that certification might be a door opener if you decide to move onto something else.  In a commoditized world, it’s important for the Capacity Manager to understand why those technologies are really more than just commodities to buy, use, and throw away.
ITIL (or some other best practice) training and certification is especially useful in those organizations that have adopted / aligned to those standards.  Becoming Manager (v2) certified and Expert (v3) certified opened the doors in my career and even as a Capacity Manager would give me a well-rounded understanding of the other ITSM processes and the terminology used in them.
I’ve seen many people in technical roles take project manager training and seek out certifications and then segue into those kinds of positions in organizations.  Good project managers can never be underestimated and the skills will serve anyone who manages projects in IT well, even if it isn’t a career path.
Companies have all kinds of specialized training – about the business, about specific technologies they use.  If your company has an education department with courses that can be taken to teach new skills and those courses are made available to you, they’re a great option. 
        Company specific training / certifications
        Groups / Events like CMG, Toastmasters, etc.
        Tuition reimbursement plans
Being able to speak in public is a skill many of us take for granted, but many more find absolutely terrifying.  And yet the ability to give a good presentation can be one of the things that can launch a career or change an existing one in a positive way.  Writing papers for CMG is a way to network with fellow Capacity Managers and establish credibility in the industry – there are many people who have improved their careers by making contacts at CMG or other technical events.
Finally, if your organization offers a tuition reimbursement plan where you can take college courses or pursue a degree on the company dime and/or time, consider it.  It’s how I started my MBA – and while it took me 4 years to complete, it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made for my career. I'll conclude my series on Wednesday, in the meantime make sure to check out our Resources section where you'll find a great collection of Capacity Management related white papers and on-demand webinars
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? Evaluating your career path (5 of 7)

So, we’ve established that maturing the Capacity Management process can be a useful step in making your career as a Capacity Manager a more successful one.  But how do you know that’s what you want to do…or that’s the best path for you?

Constant career evaluation is necessary – whether you’re in your first year out of college/university or whether you’ve been in your career / position for 20+ years.
Most successful people have changed positions and have re-invented themselves over the course of a career.  But a person can’t decide to make a career change without having a plan that can sometimes take years to put into place.

Some organizations I’ve worked for made it very clear that my services weren’t as appreciated as I would’ve liked.  I’m sure that many of you reading this blog have your own stories.  Being able to read the landscape and put the framework into place to improve your situation or even change your career is an important step.
I’ll talk a bit about my own experience. I think my experiences are pretty typical and hopefully will get you to think about your own experiences and career path.

This is probably where I should put in the contradictory disclaimer that my results probably aren’t typical (despite my last paragraph) and your personal results and experiences will vary.
These 5 cases show that there are times when the best option is to stay and try to make the situation better, yet there are times where the best option is to try to find something that matches your career goals, whether or not they have anything to do with Capacity Management.

        Hired at the wrong time

        Hired at the wrong place

        Get out before you’re asked to leave

        I can’t believe I took this job

        I need to make changes, but want to stay...
Hired at the wrong time

“If you’d been hired a month earlier, you’d be up for a raise this year.”
“Last year was a much better year – we can’t hire anyone else now.  We need to do more with less.”

Sometimes you’re just not in the right place or perhaps it is, but it’s not the right time.

My first position coming out of school was a good starting point for my career, but 10 months after being hired I was told raises were only given once a year and I’d have to wait another year before they’d consider one.
A month later I moved to another company across the country, even though I was young and inexperienced at the time, I decided that this was indicative of bigger problems in the organization and it was time to move on.

Sometimes, you have to read your situation and decide whether it’s time to make a change.
I understand 20 years on that this is easier said than done.  As a newly married person with no kids and no ties to the community, this was an easy, easy decision.  Then again, I said that your mileage may vary.

But sometimes you have to decide if messages you’re receiving are telling you that you’re not as valued as you’d like to be.  From there you have to decide whether you try to improve your standing / situation there or whether it’s time to try to move on.
Hired at the wrong place

“We’re a mainframe shop.  Those Unix and Windows servers are just toys.”
This quote was actually said to me when I was working as a distributed capacity planner.  OK, it was said to me at the end of the 20th century, but even then it was easy to see this wasn’t probably the right gig for me, even though the position was clearly needed and we did good work.

Get out before you’re asked to leave
“We’ll need you to do more than (what you were hired to do).  The business has changed – there’s no room for specialists.”

Sometimes you can be the right person for the job, but then the job changes.

You can be the best Capacity Manager doing incredible work at an organization that (mostly) appreciates your efforts.
But you might work for a company that was just acquired or merged with another company and suddenly you’re working for someone who has no appreciation for Capacity Management other than “here’s a well-paid person who doesn’t actually manage or administer anything.”

At this point you have several choices – you can reinvent yourself (if possible) to be what the organization now needs.  You can try to get the training necessary to move into another gig (I’ll talk more about this later – and how when you NEED the training, it’s probably too late), or you can move on.
For me, it was an acquisition.  Strangely enough, I was hired just after the acquisition, but after a couple of years the company decided to focus on other things and my role was changed.  Even with me willing to change, I knew that my time was limited, and I moved on.

I can’t believe I took this job
I’ll let you fill in the blanks on this quote, I’m sure many of you have taken a position and known within two weeks that you made a horrible mistake.

For me it was a desire to stop traveling and get back into the day-to-day world of Capacity Management.  Within two weeks I knew I would never be more than what I was the day I started with the company, it still took me 18 months to escape.
How many of you have been there?  Whether it’s the manager, co-workers, company culture, the job, the direction of the company, or many other things, how many of you have immediately known that it was just a horrible fit?

Even in these situations, you have options.  For me, it was starting an MBA program (paid for by the company I couldn’t wait to leave) and learning as much as I could about various technologies the company used.  I also took the opportunity to apply for other jobs (internally and externally), sharpen my interviewing skills, and realize that others had things much worse.
If you haven’t ever been in a job like this, congratulations!

I need to make changes, but want to stay
“I love the company, but I can’t keep doing this job anymore.  At least not like this.”

Sometimes everything is right with the exception of what you’re doing for the company.  Perhaps you’ve done a job for so long that you need a new challenge.  Perhaps your life situation has changed and you need more flexibility in your working conditions or situations.  Perhaps you find yourself interested in something else or maybe you just can’t keep doing things the way you’re doing them now.

If you are a Capacity Manager and generally like what you do, but just can’t keep on doing it the same way, with the same results, then look at the Capacity Management Maturity part of the white paper.  Trying to implement changes, even if minor, to improve the process can change the job and more importantly can change how you feel about it.
If, however, you need to move on, this is the time where you hope you have some people who respect and value your contributions and can help you move on to a new challenge in the company.
There's still time to register for our webinar today 'Capacity Management Maturity Series -Repeatable to Defined'  
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? Capacity Management Maturity levels (4 of 7)

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.

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 has been 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.
Don't forget to fill out and submit our survey to find out where your organization is on the Capacity Management Maturity Scale 

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Friday, 16 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? - Maturing the Capacity Management process (3 of 7)

Capacity Management Maturity is a somewhat subjective (but usually backed up with some type of scoring mechanism) measure of how much the Capacity Management process is implemented and entrenched into an organization  Further on in this blog series I will discuss one particular model and how maturity is defined in that model.

Increasing maturity of the process in an organization not only reduces the number of capacity-related incidents and problems within a business, but also improves other processes as well.  Incident and problem management aren’t as busy and can focus on other tasks.  More service level agreements are met and SLM can focus on other tasks and responsibilities.  More changes are successful and change management can focus on future changes, not figuring out why past ones had to be rolled back.
As a Capacity Manager, your role within IT and the business can be, and should be vital.  Your mindset must always be to make yourself and your team indispensable to the organization.  How you do that can vary depending on the organization and the situation – but improving and maturing the process can go a long way to making that happen.
What is Maturity?
Before we discuss why having a mature Capacity Management process helps you as the Capacity Manager, let’s step back and talk about what we mean by “Capacity Management 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 Capacity Management process.
On Monday I'll describe each of the Maturity levels. If you're interested in how you can mature your Capacity Management process then start by finding out where you currently sit on the Maturity Scale by taking our survey . You'll receive your free 20 page report with tips on how to mature to the next level and comparisons with others in your Industry sector. 
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity? - What is Capacity Management?(2 of 7)

A fairly standard definition of Capacity Management is ‘An IT process that helps ensure capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner.’

A well-defined Capacity Management process will focus on four sub-processes:
·        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.

Capacity Management – a “people” process
Today’s Capacity Manager must be a “people” person – the days of the person looking at charts in a corner cubicle that nobody dare enter are (or should be) over.

An effective Capacity Manager today is someone who should know and interact with key people within both IT and the business. Further, Capacity Management has some key interfaces to the other ITSM processes, including:

-- Incident Management

-- Problem Management

-- Change Management

-- Service Level Management

…and many others.
Those interfaces do not only consist of data and information.  They also consist of effective communication by the Capacity Manager and relationships built on trust and respect.  Building these relationships require that the Capacity Manager have personal and communication skills that were probably less important decades ago.

Capacity Management is a key resource for evaluating the effects of change, both within IT and with the business.
On Friday I'll be looking at Capacity Management Maturity.
In the meantime, register now for the next webinar in our Capacity Management Maturity series where we'll be looking at Repeatable to Defined, with an emphasis on what is involved when maturing to a Defined level. 
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

Monday, 12 June 2017

Hardware's a commodity - Why bother managing capacity?(1 of 7)

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 blog series will talk about Capacity Management and how the focus of it has changed in the last two decades – from a technically-oriented process with little interaction with the business to a more people-centric process.
There has also been a huge shift in how IT is done in many companies.  In the past, IT purchases were managed closely, each expenditure carried out after careful deliberation and multiple models predicting the right decision over a host of alternatives.  Today, many IT capacity-oriented purchases are commoditized – interchangeable blades, machines where upgrades involve turning on already-existing processors, or adding capacity to cloud purchases.

As IT becomes more commoditized, the role of the Capacity Manager changes – what value add does the Capacity Manager bring to the organization?  Cost savings aren’t as readily seen and the new technologies are frequently managed by people who think that their role also includes managing capacity and performance.
A smart Capacity Manager today focuses on key areas where he/she can provide value – on relationships with the business which can help negotiate changes in demand for IT services. 

A strong, visible, people-oriented Capacity Manager can find his/her way in today’s IT data center and still provide considerable value to the business.  Without a change in perspective, however, the Capacity Manager faces the possibility of becoming extinct in even the largest of organizations.

What’s changed?  A look back – 1997

        Mainframes ruled most/many datacenters

        Teams of people closely monitored capacity and performance

        Capacity Planning was purely an IT function

        UNIX just starting to do “real” work

        Few e-commerce, internet things done

I know that this is one person’s experience, but I can’t help but think it was pretty similar in many larger organizations 20 years ago.
I was hired as part of a 9-person Capacity Planning and Performance Analysis team for a regulated utility.  We had a mainframe (or two) and about 50 production Unix servers.  The Unix systems did nothing that directly interfaced with the clients.
My morning involved showing up for work, making a coffee, and looking painstakingly at charts for the 7 or 8 Unix servers I was responsible for.  Sounds quaint today, I know, but that was the job and I was paid pretty well for a recent PhD program dropout.

In my year with this organization (I left because of the location, not the job), I never once met with anyone from the business.  The Unix machines I looked at were critical pieces of equipment that helped our technicians do their jobs, but back then all customer-facing information was held on the mainframe and customers called people who accessed the information for them.
The explosion of the Internet in the coming years changed everything.  So did the advent of new technologies, new mindsets, and the changing economy played a role as well.

On Wednesday I'll look at what Capacity Management is, in the meantime have a look at our Resources, you'll find a great selection of white papers and on-demand webinars on Capacity Management
Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer