The need for virtual capacity management is on the rise. In Gartner’s ‘Market Guide for Capacity Management Tools’ report, published on January 30, 2015, it states “Through 2018, more than 30 percent of enterprises will use IT infrastructure capacity management tools for their critical infrastructures to gain competitive advantage, up from less than five percent in 2014.” So now we’re midway to 2018, which means at least 15-20 percent of you are at least thinking about it more, if you haven’t already started looking for a solution.
Capacity management has always been important in traditional (physical) data centers. Traditional capacity planning will tell you how much hardware you need to support a specific load on the server. But because of the dynamic nature of resource allocation and utilization within a virtual environment, it can be difficult to get the details on how – and how much - of your capacity is being used today, much less accurately calculate future requirements.
Capacity management isn’t just about forecasting growth, it’s about planning changes in your environment. There are four stages in capacity lifecycle management. They all work together, and they are all important.
- Planning: Forecasting your long-term resource requirements is critical so you can plan, budget, and procure what is needed over time.
- Allocation: As a systems or virtual administrator, you have to create VMs and assign resources, such as CPUs, memory, and storage, to handle specific tasks. Without a good capacity allocation process how do you know where to add or expand resources and keep things balanced?
- Optimization is about performance and realizing operational cost savings. Does each VM on your system have the appropriate amount of CPU, memory and disk space? Or are there wasted resources, such as zombie VMs (which are VMs that are running but aren’t actually doing anything)?
- Maintenance: Even when you think you have optimized your virtual environments, things can get out of sync over time. You may have an increase in the number of users accessing the environment. The size of the database may grow, so you probably have to add more resources in terms of CPU or memory. That’s why ongoing capacity maintenance is important.
Making informed decisions means a lower margin of risk and a lower margin of needless expenditures. So why not investigate the options? For more reading, I further address the challenges of virtual capacity management in another blog on How to Manage Your Virtual Capacity or view Foglight Capacity Director for a solution.