As many companies are experiencing, today’s IT landscape is more complex than ever. The explosion of dynamic infrastructures — the physical, virtual and cloud systems, storage and networks that are increasingly critical — is challenging organizations when it comes to ensuring optimized IT service delivery. IT operations teams are demanding solutions that allow them to be highly proactive so they can solve any potential issues long before they become degradation of service or full-blown outages.
One of the biggest challenges for IT executives is the ability to measure and manage the risks involved in the data center against the costs associated with the ability to ensure service delivery. Managing risk versus service cost is a constant balancing act for successful businesses. A lot of the choices that need to be made in order to better implement a system that will manage risks more closely are more often than not inhibited by cash flow, credit availability and the lack of knowledge about the damage that not measuring and managing risk can cause.
Although the IT team can be just a small part of these decisions, more of the IT decision makers need to be able to provide risk-related information to the business so more informed decisions can be made about what needs to be done to proactively protect their data centers and, more importantly, cost-effective assurance of service delivery. In many cases this work needs to involve the use of predictive analytic tools to perform ongoing sensitivity analyses on IT systems in terms of their ability to deliver acceptable service.
Capacity management, and specifically predictive modeling, can help IT executives manage and optimize service and cost risks involved with the data center. Using modeling techniques, performance analysts, capacity planners and capacity managers can better predict and give a better measurement of the data risks.
It is not always easy to find appropriately skilled staff, especially for smaller companies. That said, all hope is most definitely not lost! Here are some best practices to utilize when managing and measuring the service delivery risks in your data centers.
- Understand and prioritize staff task loads — Make sure your IT teams are well equipped and well educated but also realize the totality of their work responsibilities. If the amount of tasks is overwhelming the workforce, it is time to reevaluate your strategy.
- Map IT resources to business workloads/services — IT resources can be used to analyze performance of the services or workloads in ways that make business sense, across whatever technology silos that may exist, enabling you to optimize performance in business terms.
- Understand (analyze) the dynamics between IT resource requirements (over time) and business services/workloads — Use analytic tools to discover the key metrics and their interconnection to help optimize cost and maximize service performance.
- Define business services/workloads service level requirements (SLAs) — Knowing the requirements of the businesses IT is supporting in terms of service levels (e.g., response time, throughput, cost, etc.) is an essential measurement foundation for creating and implementing a strong management system.
- Understand/plan for extra IT resource capacity for unforeseen demand/changes — As much as we would like to, we can’t plan everything that is going to come up when implementing a strategy or plan for data centers. It is important to make sure you have enough resource capacity to meet the demands or changes that may come. The more you know about business forecasts, the more accurately and cost-effectively you can do this — while reducing service risk.
- Understand the life cycle cost of IT resources and data center components — Knowing what it costs and what is needed to give businesses better measurement results is key to present to decision makers when you are working with a business looking to better manage and measure their data center risks. Make sure they know the cost involved and how much of a budget will be needed in order to meet their demands. These costs, over time, should be aligned to the business services the IT resources support and balanced by the correctly predicted amount of resource required (neither too much, nor too little).
Dave Wagner is director of market development at TeamQuest. He has more than three decades of systems hardware and software experience including product management, marketing, sales, project management, customer support and training. He is responsible for the successful business integration of TeamQuest Surveyor. He has authored many articles on the topic of capacity management. For more information on Dave and his company, visit him on Twitter and YouTube.