How to develop an effective capacity planning process

Trying to get a handle on matching technology infrastructure with demand? Here are the nine major steps associated with implementing a sound capacity planning process.

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Step 5: Collect Workload Forecasts from Developers and Users

This is one of the most critical steps in the entire capacity planning process, and it is the one over which you have the least control. Developers are usually asked to help users complete IT workload forecasts. As in many instances of this type, the output is only as good as the input. Working with developers and some selected pilot users in designing a simple yet effective worksheet can go a long way to easing this step. You can see a sample user workload forecast worksheet here. This should be customized as much as possible to meet the unique requirements of your particular environment.

Step 6: Transform Workload Forecasts into IT Resource Requirements

After the workload forecasts are collected, the projected changes must be transformed into IT resource requirements. Sophisticated measurement tools or a senior analyst's expertise can help in changing projected transaction loads, for example, into increased capacity of server processors. The worksheets also allow you to project the estimated time frames during which workload increases will occur. For major application workloads, it is wise to utilize the performance centers that key suppliers of the servers, database software and enterprise applications now offer.

Step 7: Map Requirements onto Existing Utilizations

The projected resource requirements derived from the workload projections of the users in Step 6 are now mapped onto the charts of excess utilization from Step 4. This mapping shows the quantity of new capacity that will be needed by each component to meet expected demand.

Step 8: Predict When the Shop Will Be Out of Capacity

The mapping of the quantity of additional capacity needed to meet projected workload demands also pinpoints the time frame during which these upgraded resources will be required.

Step 9: Update Forecasts and Utilizations

The process of capacity planning is not a one-shot event but rather an ongoing activity. Its maximum benefit is derived from continually updating the plan and keeping it current. The plan should be updated at least once per year. Shops that use this methodology best are the shops that update their plans every quarter. Note that the production acceptance process also uses a form of capacity planning when determining resource requirements for new applications.

Rich Schiesser has experience as a senior IT executive, professional educator and consultant. This article is excerpted from his book IT Systems Management with permission of publisher Prentice Hall Professional.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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