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 

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