Capacity planning. Business forecasting process.

Capacity planning is a vital and integral function of any successful IT organisation. In an ideal world all IT services would be capacity planned throughout their lifecycle. Today, capacity planning is an accepted management function closely aligned with strategic business planning. Although the truest forms of capacity planning should be done by IT performance experts, those on the business side of IT can have a clear understanding of the process. By knowing the process itself, business can understand the true value of capacity planning.

Capacity planning is a consolidated output of a capacity management process. The goal of capacity management is to optimize the capability of the IT infrastructure and supporting organization in order to deliver a cost-effective and sustained level of availability that enables the business to satisfy its objectives. Capacity planning currents levels of resource utilization and service performance. After considering business requirements, it forecasts future resource requirements for IT services to support them. The capacity plan contains recomendations ragarding the resource levels and changes necessary to accomplish operating level requirements that support the service level agreement (SLA). The capacity plan includes the cost and benefit of those resources, reports of their compliance to the IT SLA, and the priority and impact of systems and resources on the overall business and the IT infrastructure.
Capacity planning is the key to a smooth-running data center, helping IT organizations to:

-Accurately and efficiently provision new applications
-Reduce, delay and sometimes completely avoid costs
-Justify upgrades with objective analyses
-Optimally configure systems to accommodate forecasted changes in business
-Migrate systems to take advantage of new technology
-Consolidate servers to simplify management and gain economies of scale
-Mitigate service delivery risk by playing out potential scenarios in advance, and then preparing for them
Traditional capacity planning measures how major IT components are being used, and is typically done with advanced queuing theories and highly technical analysis. If a bottleneck occurs, a particular component has reached maximum capacity or utilization, and needs to be reduced for optimal performance. This is usually done by shifting the workload, modifying software, or upgrading hardware capacity based on the results of an analytical model.

IT capacity planning includes monitoring the current system and planning for future changes to the workload and equipment. Capacity planning should be an ongoing process with a long time objective of providing computer services to the user in a cost-effective manner.

Capacity planning provides both IT and business benefits. It can reduce resource expenditures in today's complex infrastructure environments, improve application infrastructure availability, and help align IT with business priorities.
When implemented as a continuous process, business capacity planning becomes a business resource capable of helping assure business continuity. Capacity planning gives IT a mechanism for providing business managers with insight into the technology resources on which they depend.
Capacity planning is a five phase process, encompassing monitoring, measuring and tracking resource utilization; analyzing utilization information; determining and implementing actions; and defining real-time alerts. These four phases are followed by a fifth phase that seeks continuous improvement through both real-time monitoring and long-term planning exercises.

Capacity planning can save millions of dollars for an organization. Improper planning for capacity can lead to wasted resources resulting in unnecessary cost, or lack of resources resulting in poor performance or the unavailability of an IT service.



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