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This week I had the pleasure of visiting some of the biggest & leading utility and technology companies in France and Spain. Here are some of my personal observations based on these conversations. ITIL is finally becoming the discipline I hoped for years past…a new trend - really - why? Peeling the layers with these seasoned IT professionals – it quickly was apparent that ITIL Capacity Management provides a detailed level analysis or profile of existing IT infrastructure resource performance and utilization that can be used to develop capacity plans which essentially function as a balancing act of Cost against Capacity, and Supply against Demand. Which is seen as the building blocks as many customers are moving aggressively to cloud computing.

 

One of the key highlights of my discussions with customers is that – as customers are migrating to private clouds to provide an on-demand computing model they are starting to become more and more disciplined with how Capacity Management interfaces with hardware and software technology planning, financial planning, and budget functions. As most of us understand, Cloud computing implementations have both common attributes and individual attributes that distinguish one cloud from another. The IT/ capacity management teams should be aware of these differences and incorporate these differences into their operations. The sub-processes of ITIL capacity management easily align to the cloud computing models that are emerging.

 

 

The reasons (and benefits) why these companies are looking at ITIL based Capacity Management to navigate their cloud is as follows:

·    Matching the capacity to business need. Unused computing power & under-utilized resources are therefore not required to be maintained and cost savings result, ultimately existing Capacity is optimized to supply the most utilized service and/ or applications resulting in higher SLA’s.

·    The ITIL Capacity Management process interfaces into the Change Advisory Board (CAB) assisting to assess the impact of Changes upon existing Capacity, thus reducing the risk of Capacity Problems caused by Changes

·    Capacity management translates into planned procurement and therefore results in more optimized buying practices

·    Existing service and application risks are minimized through the managing of resources and service performance effectively

·    The reduction or elimination of the number of urgent Changes required to increase Capacity based on on-demand computing models can be achieved through effective Capacity planning & management

 

 

Based on these observations – I implore more and more IT experts start to thinking about Cloud (both public & private) in a manner which addresses Capacity management as a life-cycle discipline inside-out which addresses many of the challenges which are inherently native to on-demand computing models.

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Migrating to a virtualized environment enables tremendous improvements in data center productivity and flexibility. While virtualization significantly increases computing power utilization it also unfolds some challenges. Analyst studies rate Capacity planning as the top challenge of IT in the modern data center. Just to zoom into this challenge - one of the more complex tasks in any virtualization project is recognizing the best candidates for P2V migrations and correctly mixing their workloads into the new virtualization hosts. These challenges make the discipline of Capacity Management a core competency in IT management more critical than ever. Whether you have formalized processes or not - it is vital that you be able to optimize the datacenter from a Capacity Management perspective.

 

One must follow a sequence of steps to achieve the promise of virtualization – that is reduce costs, improve efficiency and utilization – they can be summarized as follows:

 

• Virtualize the right servers to minimize risk and improve operational efficiency

• Avoid over-provisioning and server sprawl

• Optimize the placements of workloads and virtual machines

 

With BMC Capacity Management solutions – you can do just that! IT administrators can easily identify good and bad candidates for virtualization, their optimum placement on a physical host, and the number of virtual machines per physical host. Accurate predictive analysis identifies future needs and when to shift workloads from one physical server to another to avoid disruption of critical systems in the new virtualized modern data center. Hear first hand on how Dell has addressed the challenges posed by virtualization using BMC Capacity Management solutions: Dell Reduces Trouble Tickets Four-fold with BMC

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I recently read a good article by Kevin Fogerty and was compelled to share the following link: http://howto.techworld.com/virtualisation/3211558/how-to-manage-virtual-machine-performance/

 

One of highlights of this article is how companies are STILL struggling with making sure that hardware can support now and future additional load/ demand – which is a real trick because of the almost infinite variety of the software that runs within the virtual environment. Andi Mann from EMA goes on to add that “Both Intel and AMD build in circuits specifically to support both virtualization and the migration of virtual servers. A given server could have between two and eight processors, each of which has between two and eight processing cores. How well your particular server configuration will fare with an idiosyncratic load of software is almost impossible to predict without very specific and painstaking analysis”.

 

 

 

In my personal view - this is exactly why a best of bread Capacity Management solution is needed – one which addresses heterogeneous physical systems + Intel virtualization + plus UNIX virtualization platforms (AIX xPARs, Solaris zones, LDOMs, HP nPAR/vPAR) to address the needs of capacity inside – out to achieve the goals of the business.

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Today, many data centers have servers running at only 10 or 15 percent of total processing capacity. In other words, 85 or 90 percent of the machine’s power is unused. The old processes associated with physical provisioning of servers and associated computing equipment meant that it was difficult, if not impossible, to react quickly to a changing business environment. Virtualization is the answer to increase business agility and operational flexibility.

 

 

Virtualization is an approach to pooling and sharing technology resources to ensure supply can readily meet business demand. However, there are some inherent challenges that arise from virtualization - Virtualized systems make it difficult to keep track of who owns what servers and which business units use which applications on different servers. Proper virtualization management requires capacity planning both before deploying virtualization and once the virtual infrastructure is in place. Unlike physical systems, virtual environments create overlap among servers and hardware, making it difficult to determine where to run applications and which underutilized hardware can take on additional load.

 

 

A life-cycle approach to capacity planning should be put in place which understands resource requirements and uses utilization rates to predict future needs for on-going business agility. Few vendors in the market space have the know-how and expertise that can address both physical and virtual environments in a heterogeneous landscape – so be sure to look for the best in bread across both disciplines when choosing a capacity planning & management vendor. Capacity planning & management are no longer the after-thought but the corner-stone of effective Virtualization in today’s rapidly changing business and IT environment.

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