Why Capacity Planning is firmly back on the IT agenda

Why Capacity Planning is firmly back on the IT agenda 2017-03-23T14:58:45+00:00

In October 2015, Sumerian commissioned leading research house Populus to gain further insight into the current enterprise IT and capacity planning landscape, and uncover emerging trends for the year ahead.

Some of the results were quite startling! Of the 94% planning a change to their IT infrastructure in 2016, 34% admit they find it difficult accessing the necessary capacity information required to support major IT change. As a result, UK enterprises are putting their IT service management capability at significant risk, with those surveyed acknowledging that capacity issues still account for nearly 30% of all critical outages.

The lack of readily available capacity insight might not be so surprising given other key findings from the survey: although 55% of businesses are using IT capacity planning tools, 45% say this is simply a spreadsheet, and although a majority believe that IT capacity planning is becoming increasingly important, nearly 40% perceive a shortage of skills and gap in their current IT capacity planning capabilities.

To discuss these survey results in more detail and dig a little deeper, we recently gathered some leading industry experts together for a Think Tank in London. Co-hosted by Clive Longbottom from Quocirca, and attended by organizations including Warbutons, IBM and the ITSMF, each attendee brought some really interesting perspectives to the table, and the conclusions reached give some great, practical insight.

The group agreed that easy accessibility to timely IT capacity planning information does indeed remain a huge barrier, with the time taken to collect, aggregate and present data often negating its currency and relevance. While new types of technology create more complexity in IT infrastructure, and business-driven change, along with the impact of methodologies like DevOps, continues to gain pace, even the task of collecting the necessary data to fuel an effective capacity planning capability is a major obstacle. The emergence of cloud, which for the last few years has dominated IT discussions, has resulted in hybrid environments becoming the norm. While this allows organizations to have the best of both worlds—combining physical onsite infrastructure with both public and private-hosted cloud services—it significantly increases IT capacity planning complexity requiring a new breed of tooling and techniques.

The survey also found that a fifth of businesses are finding cloud costs higher than they budgeted for, with almost another fifth suspecting they have over provisioned. The Think Tank discussion also explored the practical challenges around the viability of cloud-bursting, especially where applications haven’t been architected with this in mind, and the reality of managing cloud deployments. It concluded that while cloud can deliver elasticity and scale, a laser focus is required to remain cost effective. Businesses need to be careful they don’t just sit back and rely on vendor guidance, but maintain a level of independent control. Maintaining an effective IT capacity planning capability is key to this, ensuring the right platform choices and most cost effective provisioning are aligned to support changing business demand.

The overriding conclusion from our discussion was that while many organizations still have a way to go in establishing and maturing an effective capacity management capability, still tending to only focus on capacity planning when there’s a perceived issue, many have recognized the need to invest further in the year ahead.

Establishing strong IT capacity planning is the key to improving so many things, it is not only about reacting to problems and incidents; it’s about helping enterprises put proactive measures in place that can help de-risk change, optimize IT investment and look at behaviors and trends that can help protect future business performance.

In 2016, as the pace of technology adoption continues to increase, and the quantity of data grows faster than anyone could ever imagine, those who invest in IT capacity planning and extend their planning horizon will be in a strong position to future-proof their IT and help drive business value and growth.