August 19, 2015
Capacity planning just might be the most crucial element that businesses are almost totally overlooking right now. It is easy to see why; most businesses are just recovering from the influx of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) that has kept executive decision makers and IT managers running wild the past few years. But SMAC is no longer new, and it is now time to make plans for the growing needs for the data storage and reliable connectivity that businesses need in the coming years. Here are several tips to get business on the right track.
|What does the business' capacity utilization look like now? It's important to start from the right place before planning where to end up.|
1. Evaluate Your Current Use and Requirements
What does the current IT infrastructure look like? This includes storage, connectivity, etc. Include both the hardware and software components. Hardware components include servers and processing units, while software components include the licenses that are being used versus those going unused. Is the infrastructure adequate for today's needs? Is a lot going unused or underutilized? Are resources stretched to the max? It is impossible to develop capacity plans for the future without knowing where the business stands today.
2. Discuss Potential Growth
Now look ahead: what factors are likely to change the business' capacity needs heading into the future? Capacity planning should be done in increments: a one-year plan, five-year plan, ten-year plan, etc. Include any expansion plans, new product lines, mergers and acquisitions, or other plans that might affect capacity during that timeframe.
3. Determine What Could Cause Usage Spikes
Aside from the plans for growth and expansion, what situations could lead to a spike in system use that needs to be accommodated? Examples of situations that cause usage spike include hugely successful marketing campaigns, new product launches, or newsworthy events that might drive an abundance of traffic to your website(s) or applications. Capacity planning requires that networks and systems are prepared for peak traffic, not just the baseline of activity.
4. Consider Both Internal and External Factors That Affect Capacity
Also, don't be overly focused on internal traffic to the exclusion of external traffic. What do the customers, vendors, suppliers, and business partners need in terms of network accessibility, storage capacity, and other IT infrastructure? Again, consider both the baseline capacity needed to accommodate users, as well as issues that could lead to temporary spikes in network usage.
|What should capacity look like in a year? Five years? Ten? Capacity planning isn't just about planning for a particular mark in the future, but about preparing for growth and expansion over time.|
5. Map Out a Realistic Timetable for Expansion
When should systems be improved to accommodate expected growth and expansion? It is a good idea to establish minimum, maximum, and realistic goals here. What is the minimum growth to be prepared for within the next year? What is the maximum growth the business is likely to see within that time frame? Realistically, capacity capabilities probably fall somewhere between these two estimates.
Include as many stakeholders as possible in capacity planning meetings, as each department will bring an entirely different vantage point, goals, concerns, and ideas to the table. Only with all of this input can the business get a complete and accurate picture of their capacity planning needs. Want to learn more about capacity planning? Take advantage of NETSCOUT'S on-demand webcast called Tips for Tackling Bandwidth Management