Your IT systems are crucial to your organization's success — imagine all the important tasks and workloads that couldn't be completed if certain platforms or applications were down or experiencing performance issues. This scenario can result in all kinds of consequences, including reduced productivity for office users and headaches for you and the IT team.
One way to avoid performance issues and downtime is with proper capacity planning, which helps you get a bird's-eye-view of your IT infrastructure's overall capacity. Creating and following a capacity planning process gives you and your IT administrators the opportunity to make sure your organization is prepared for the future and able to scale with growing needs of your organization.
Here are five critical steps that every capacity planning process should include.
Step 1: Check on the current SLA levels
Before you look toward your future needs, you need to understand the current capacity and Service Level Agreements of your IT systems. This may involve reviewing SLA documents and signed partnership agreements with service providers, as it's important to know whether or not your vendors are keeping up their end of the SLA and how much room you have for growth.
Step 2: Analyze your existing capacity
Next, analyze your current capacity. As DZone contributor Rohit Dhall pointed out, there are a few approaches you can take to measure the current capacity of your IT systems, including making an educated guess (but we wouldn't advise this). Admins can also use load testing and performance monitoring tools to gain more accurate and in-depth data about current capacity. Overall, it's important to identify the CPU, memory, network, and disc usage for key systems like your servers, databases, SAN, storage and cloud environments.
During this step, you also want to consider how well your systems stand up to current needs. For instance, if your users frequently complain about slow performance or other issues, it could be a sign that you're lacking proper capacity to support user activity.
Step 3: Determine your future needs
Once you have an idea of your current IT capacity, it's time to map out future capacity requirements. As TechTarget contributor Brien Posey pointed out, this step goes beyond just looking at your company growth.
"If you are looking only at the company's future growth, what you are really looking at is how well the existing infrastructure, servers, and applications will hold up to an increased number of users," Posey wrote. "Future needs are different, though, and have more to do with the way the company's business may change."
It's important to think about growth like specialized client needs, including requirements for running new applications, or updating other hardware and software elements.
Step 4: Identify any opportunities for consolidation
Capacity planning is also an ideal time to consolidate your workloads or potentially eliminate under provisioned servers. Zombie servers (the lights are on, but nobody's home) are just draining money from your IT budget. Consolidating and removing this unnecessary hardware can reduce licensing costs or utility expenses (if on-premises).
As Posey advised, though, it's important not to go overboard. Not every workload will be well-suited for consolidation, and it's imperative that consolidation doesn't come at the cost of necessary redundancy.
Step 5: Make your capacity recommendations and take action
Remember, your capacity plan should be just that: a plan outlining the actionable steps you should take to support your users and IT infrastructure now and into the future. Using the data and insights about your current capacity and where your needs will take you in the future, you can formulate recommendations about how to best support these requirements.
Following your plan, your IT team can prepare your infrastructure capacity for the future. Keep in mind, though, that this is an ongoing initiative — you should regularly check into your existing capacity and compare it to your future requirements to ensure you're on track. Capacity planning is especially important when prepping your infrastructure to handle high-capacity projects like workloads related to big data analysis or artificial intelligence. In addition, if you undergo a merger or acquisition, you'll need to ensure that you have the right capacity in place to account for new users.
Capacity planning is a critical pursuit for you and your IT team, and it can go a lot smoother with the right tools and technology in place. Reach out to Galileo today to learn more about how to best support your next capacity planning initiative.