Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, SmartBear Blog, Pat Romanski, Ruxit Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Steps for Improving Capacity Management in the Age of Cloud Computing

Realize the full promise of cloud computing

When you wake up in the morning and flip on a light switch, you don't think about whether the local power company has enough electricity available to power the light. Likewise, when you switch on the coffee pot or turn on your stove to make breakfast, you don't wonder about the available capacity of your local power grid.

Similarly, cloud computing is rapidly making the delivery of business services second nature to business users. They are able to access the services they need, when they need them, because the dynamic nature of the cloud offers unprecedented, highly elastic computing capacity.

Is your business able to fully exploit this flexibility? Cloud computing certainly brings with it new challenges for IT infrastructure management, particularly for capacity management. To get the most value from the cloud, you must continually balance capacity utilization, cost, and service quality. How can you make this happen? By transforming capacity management from a siloed, technology-oriented approach to one that is holistic and business aware.

This article examines six essential steps that will guide you through this transformation. These steps will help your organization to achieve the full benefits of cloud computing, including greater IT agility, higher service quality, and lower costs.

Traditional Approaches Are No Longer Sufficient
Traditionally, IT organizations have viewed capacity management as a dedicated, full-time job performed by specialized capacity planners and analysts. These highly skilled staffers are event-driven, responding to such occurrences as new application deployments and hardware changes.

Because of the sheer size and complexity of today's data centers and the small number of capacity planners in the typical IT organization, capacity planners often limit their focus to mission-critical systems. These planners typically manage capacity using a siloed, technology-based approach in which some planners focus on servers, others on storage, and still others on network devices. The problem is that not much communication takes place among groups, resulting in a capacity planning process that is a patchwork of disjointed activities, many of which are manual.

Traditional capacity management may have served well in the past, but if you are considering or already have begun the move to virtualization and cloud computing, traditional approaches are no longer adequate. Virtualization and cloud computing radically alter the character of the IT infrastructure. With cloud computing, the infrastructure is viewed as a pool of resources that are dynamically combined to deliver business services on demand and then returned to the pool when the services are no longer needed. In essence, the cloud provides a source of highly elastic computing capacity that can be applied when and where it's needed.

Consequently, capacity management is crucial to a successful cloud implementation. The aggregate capacity of the cloud must be sufficient to accommodate the dynamic assignment of workloads while still maintaining agreed-upon performance levels. Moreover, you must provide this capacity without over-buying equipment.

What's Needed: A Holistic, Business-Aware Approach
Traditional capacity management does not enable you to fully exploit the unprecedented capacity elasticity offered by cloud computing. Instead, you need a holistic approach that encompasses all data center resources - server, storage, and network - and links capacity utilization to business key performance indicators (KPIs). To meet this requirement, you need to accomplish the following six transformational steps.

1. Take a Broad, Continuous View
Transforming your approach to capacity planning requires making a shift in both scope and timing. With respect to scope, it's important to broaden your capacity planning focus from mission-critical systems to include the entire IT infrastructure. Cloud computing puts the aggregate capacity of the entire infrastructure at your disposal, enabling you to apply it when and where it is needed. To take full advantage of this flexibility, you need to know how much total capacity is out there and how it's being used.

With respect to timing, consider the highly dynamic nature of the infrastructure. Residual capacity is continually changing as workloads shift and changes occur in the physical infrastructure. Consequently, you need to manage capacity on a continual basis rather than only in reaction to certain events.

2. Shift to a Business Service Orientation
Most business users view the IT infrastructure simply as a source of business services. They want to request business services and have them delivered quickly with performance as defined in the associated service level agreements (SLAs). These users are not concerned with the underlying devices that make up a service.

Traditionally, IT has managed capacity from a technology perspective and has communicated in the language of IT managers. In transitioning to cloud computing, you need to manage capacity from a business service perspective and communicate in the language of business managers and users. For example, a capacity planner should be able to answer such questions as, "How many additional customer orders can my infrastructure support before running into capacity and response-time problems?"

To answer that question, the capacity planner must understand the relationship of capacity to business requirements. This is especially challenging in a cloud environment in which the delivery of business services involves the orchestrated combination of multiple resources that may include applications, servers, storage devices, and network equipment. To meet the challenge, you need to take a holistic approach that encompasses all the devices and the application layer that make up each service.

Transitioning from technology-oriented to business-service-oriented capacity management requires a corresponding shift in the metrics you gather and communicate. That shift necessitates an expansion of the scope and reach of analytics and reporting from technology metrics to business metrics, so that business demand becomes the driving factor for capacity management.

Reporting in the cloud environment, therefore, should link IT resources (physical and virtual servers, databases, applications, storage, networks, and facilities) to measurable business data, such as the costs and KPIs of the business. This linkage enables IT to communicate capacity issues to business leaders in a meaningful way. As a result, leaders can make informed, cost-effective choices in requesting capacity. For example, communicating the relationship of service workload capacity to cost discourages business users from requesting more capacity than they actually need.

The transition to a business service orientation requires a parallel transition in the makeup and skill set of capacity planners. Instead of a highly specialized, device-oriented capacity planning guru, you need generalist IT users, such as cloud service architects. These generalists should work closely with business users on one side and with the infrastructure experts on the other to establish capacity requirements based on business workloads.

3. Automate, Automate, Automate
The unfortunate reality in many organizations is that capacity planning involves numerous manual processes that are both inefficient and time intensive. Capacity planners may collect technology-oriented usage and performance data from a monitoring infrastructure and manually import the data into spreadsheets - a laborious and time-consuming process. The data collection task consumes much of the planners' time, leaving little time for analysis and capacity planning.

The transition to business-service-oriented capacity management makes the traditional manual approach impractical. That's because capacity planners must not only elevate their analysis, reports, and recommendations to a business-service level, but they must also extend their reporting from mission-critical servers to include the entire infrastructure. This requires an automated approach that encompasses data gathering, translation, and reporting in a form that is meaningful to business managers. This increase in automation helps boost quality and operational efficiency. Ultimately, automation boosts staff productivity and increases the relevance and importance of capacity management to the business.

4. Adopt Integrated, Shared Processes Across the Enterprise
A major shortcoming of traditional capacity management is that capacity planning and analysis are performed by a small cadre of planners who are siloed based on technology, such as server specialists, storage experts, and network specialists. This fragmentation makes it difficult to manage capacity based on overall business service impact. For example, how can you ensure that sufficient capacity will be available to support an anticipated spike in workload in an order-entry service due to an upcoming promotional event?

The move to the cloud environment requires a transition from siloed processes that are performed solely by capacity planners to integrated processes that are extended to and shared by other IT groups, such as application developers and database administrators. This transition permits you to leverage the expertise of capacity planners while making capacity planning a universal, shared responsibility that transcends functional IT groups.

5. Employ Predictive Analytics
Most IT organizations are moving toward the cloud environment incrementally. This typically comprises two major phases. The first phase involves migrating physical systems to virtual machines. Here, IT simply virtualizes selected physical systems with the primary goal of cutting data center costs by reducing the number of physical devices. For example, you may already have a virtual server farm in place and want to virtualize a current physical workload to that farm. You approach this by determining which physical host servers can best accommodate the additional workload(s).

The second phase involves optimizing the virtual workloads by determining the most effective placement of virtual workloads in the cloud. You could test various combinations in a laboratory environment, but it would be difficult and expensive to duplicate the real-world environment in your data center. You need the ability to gauge the impact of deploying various virtual/physical combinations in your production environment without actually implementing them.

Analysis and "what-if" modeling tools can help you in both phases. These tools enable you to preview various virtual/physical configurations and combinations before deploying them in production. In addition, modeling workloads also permits you to assess the impact of infrastructure changes without actually making the changes. For example, you can assess the impact of upgrading a server's CPU with another, more powerful one. What's more, predictive analysis of workload trends helps you ensure that needed capacity will be available in the future when and where it's needed to meet anticipated growth.

6. Integrate Capacity Management with Other Solutions, Tools, and Processes
Effective management of the cloud environment implies a broad perspective that encompasses the entire IT infrastructure as well as multiple IT disciplines. That requires the integration of capacity management tools and processes with other Business Service Management (BSM) tools and processes. BSM is a comprehensive approach and unified platform that helps IT organizations cut cost, reduce risk, and drive business profit.

The integration of capacity management solutions with discovery and dependency mapping tools gives you broad visibility into all the physical and virtual resources currently deployed in your data center. Not only will you see what's out there, but you will also understand how it is being used.

By integrating capacity management solutions with a configuration management database (CMDB), you can leverage the business service relationships stored in the CMDB for precise capacity analysis, reporting, and planning. Shared use of the configuration items (CIs) and service relationships defined in the CMDB ensures consistency across multiple IT disciplines and eliminates the need to maintain duplicate information in multiple tools.

Integration of capacity management with performance management solutions gives capacity planners real-time and historical data on business-service performance. The planners can leverage this data to maintain an ongoing balance between performance and resource utilization.

By integrating capacity management processes with change and configuration management processes, IT can ensure that all capacity-related changes made either automatically or manually to the cloud infrastructure are in compliance with internal policies and external regulations.

With an overall Business Service Management (BSM) approach, you can integrate capacity management with other IT disciplines and processes. In this way, you can effectively and efficiently manage business services throughout their entire lifecycle - across physical, virtual, and cloud-based resources.

Optimal Use of the Cloud Is Within Reach
Cloud computing is transforming the IT infrastructure into a highly elastic resource that quickly and continually adapts to changing business needs. This transformation fundamentally changes the way organizations deliver IT services and enables IT to be far more responsive to the demands of the business.

Working your way through the six transitional steps described here will help you ensure optimal use of the capacity of your cloud infrastructure - a key success factor for your cloud initiatives. By making the transition from a siloed, technology-oriented approach to a holistic, business-aware approach to capacity management, you can position your organization to realize the full promise of cloud computing.

More Stories By Fabio Violante

Fabio Violante, senior director of product development and member of the CTO Office at BMC Software, began his career with a PhD in Computer Engineering, specializing in IT performance valuation. He then went on to gaining extensive consulting experience in IT architectures while working with Accenture, Sun, and Hewlett-Packard.

In 2000, Violante co-founded Neptuny, a leading solutions provider of IT Performance Optimization and Capacity Management solutions and the first company to be incubated by Politecnico di Milano. Neptuny’s flagship product, Caplan, which is now part of BMC capacity Management, revolutionized the capacity management landscape by introducing a business oriented approach to capacity management. In October 2010, Neptuny’s software business was acquired by BMC Software, extending BMC’s leadership in capacity management and enhancing the company’s dynamic Business Service Management portfolio and cloud management offerings.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Whether you like it or not, DevOps is on track for a remarkable alliance with security. The SEC didn’t approve the merger. And your boss hasn’t heard anything about it. Yet, this unruly triumvirate will soon dominate and deliver DevSecOps faster, cheaper, better, and on an unprecedented scale. In his session at DevOps Summit, Frank Bunger, VP of Customer Success at ScriptRock, will discuss how this cathartic moment will propel the DevOps movement from such stuff as dreams are made on to a prac...
It’s been proven time and time again that in tech, diversity drives greater innovation, better team productivity and greater profits and market share. So what can we do in our DevOps teams to embrace diversity and help transform the culture of development and operations into a true “DevOps” team? In her session at DevOps Summit, Stefana Muller, Director, Product Management – Continuous Delivery at CA Technologies, answered that question citing examples, showing how to create opportunities for ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ernest Mueller, Product Manager at Idera, will explain the best practices and lessons learned for tracking and optimizing costs while delivering a cloud-hosted service. He will describe a DevOps approach where the applications and systems work together to track usage, model costs in a granular fashion, and make smart decisions at runtime to minimize costs. The trickier parts covered include triggering off the right metrics; balancing resilience and redundancy ...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Several years ago, I was a developer in a travel reservation aggregator. Our mission was to pull flight and hotel data from a bunch of cryptic reservation platforms, and provide it to other companies via an API library - for a fee. That was before companies like Expedia standardized such things. We started with simple methods like getFlightLeg() or addPassengerName(), each performing a small, well-understood function. But our customers wanted bigger, more encompassing services that would "do ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
What does “big enough” mean? It’s sometimes useful to argue by reductio ad absurdum. Hello, world doesn’t need to be broken down into smaller services. At the other extreme, building a monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is just asking for trouble: it’s too big, and it needs to be decomposed.
Early in my DevOps Journey, I was introduced to a book of great significance circulating within the Web Operations industry titled The Phoenix Project. (You can read our review of Gene’s book, if interested.) Written as a novel and loosely based on many of the same principles explored in The Goal, this book has been read and referenced by many who have adopted DevOps into their continuous improvement and software delivery processes around the world. As I began planning my travel schedule last...
Docker containerization is increasingly being used in production environments. How can these environments best be monitored? Monitoring Docker containers as if they are lightweight virtual machines (i.e., monitoring the host from within the container), with all the common metrics that can be captured from an operating system, is an insufficient approach. Docker containers can’t be treated as lightweight virtual machines; they must be treated as what they are: isolated processes running on hosts....
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
The pricing of tools or licenses for log aggregation can have a significant effect on organizational culture and the collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. Modern tools for log aggregation (of which Logentries is one example) can be hugely enabling for DevOps approaches to building and operating business-critical software systems. However, the pricing of an aggregated logging solution can affect the adoption of modern logging techniques, as well as organizational capabilities and cross-team ...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
DevOps has traditionally played important roles in development and IT operations, but the practice is quickly becoming core to other business functions such as customer success, business intelligence, and marketing analytics. Modern marketers today are driven by data and rely on many different analytics tools. They need DevOps engineers in general and server log data specifically to do their jobs well. Here’s why: Server log files contain the only data that is completely full and accurate in th...
The Microservices architectural pattern promises increased DevOps agility and can help enable continuous delivery of software. This session is for developers who are transforming existing applications to cloud-native applications, or creating new microservices style applications. In his session at DevOps Summit, Jim Bugwadia, CEO of Nirmata, will introduce best practices, patterns, challenges, and solutions for the development and operations of microservices style applications. He will discuss ...