What is Capacity Management?

Welcome to the Capacity Management post, here on my website. I will share information and news on Capacity Management and I hope that you will find the information informative and that it will give you an idea of how Service Management and IT can work together to ensure that you have enough capacity for your organisations future growth and in turn, help improve service by ensuring your environments can meet your organisations future needs.

So what exactly is Capacity Management?

In the words of Dr Lanning in the movie I, robot: “That Detective is the right question”. Capacity Management is the practice of right-sizing IT resources to meet current and future needs. It’s also one of five areas of ITIL Service Delivery. Effective capacity management is proactive, not reactive. Those doing well at capacity management make sure that business and service needs are met with a minimum of IT resources.

Beware! Capacity Management is not limited to technology teams!

While it’s true that Capacity Management principally focuses on technology, it also requires input from other business areas as some of the challenges we face cannot be solved with technology alone. For example:

  • Capacity incidents and issues can occur not only from server consumption and increased demand but from less obvious sources too, such as code not designed with capacity in mind.
  • Issues can occur when we ‘over-provision and forget’: oversizing infrastructure means while we are covered for a specific client or project, we incur unnecessary expense and run the risk of not having enough capacity for new projects or services.
  • New client services will require increased capacity. Information about the pipeline helps deliver effective capacity planning.
  • Projects are a useful source of information for Capacity Management, particularly if there will temporary or sudden increase in utilisation. This is why Capacity Management should be included in the Service Transition Checklist!

What’s included in ITIL relating to Capacity Management?

There are a number of tasks that fall under the umbrella of Capacity Management, including:

  • Monitor, analyse and optimise IT resource utilisation.
  • Create a model of infrastructure performance to understand future resource needs.
  • Produce a capacity plan that covers current use, forecasted needs, and support costs for new applications/releases.
  • Manage demand for computing resources (this requires an understanding of business priorities).
  • Right-Size applications and servers to make sure service levels can be met (without overdoing it)
  • Input to the annual infrastructure growth plan based on the feedback from other teams

OK, how do we successfully implement Capacity Management?

As with all major disciplines and projects, proper planning is key. Here are the 5 steps we are taking to implement Capacity Management:

Step 1: Gather the Data

To plan for where our capacity is going, we need to know where we are at. You need to:

  • Develop your mission, including the desired end goals, processes and responsibilities.
  • Choose a capacity planning tool so you can assess the current state of capacity and capacity management within the business.
  • Take an inventory of tools and software currently used for monitoring, capacity planning and performance management.
  • Create budget details for capacity management work.
  • Start a gap analysis to find areas of the business that require process improvements.

Step 2: Build the plan

We need to have a plan for establishing Capacity Management:

  • Establish the three major components of capacity management (people, processes, and tools).
  • Outline the necessary costs and built a preliminary budget.
  • Determine where capacity management should be placed within the organisation.
  • Work on workflows, including data inputs, information outputs, and work processes.
  • Identify necessary work to acquire, consolidate, and/or implement capacity and performance tools.

Step 3: Execute the plan

Now you are at the stage where you need to be acting on our plan:

  • We have documented the process. It was a lot of work, but it governs the day-to-day activity of Capacity Management.
  • Our processes cover performance management, capacity planning, modelling, performance data collection, storage, and reporting, and new application and major upgrade sizing.
  • We’ve acquired and implemented a capacity planning tool that can do infrastructure monitoring, data collection, automated reporting, analytics, and modelling.
  • We are currently implementing our metrics for success. These are tied to CDL’s business values, not just technical measures. Weekly and monthly reports are generated for senior management.

Step 4: Open for business

  • Start gathering historical data and get data going back over 12 months. Start with the areas of the business that are not too complex.
  • Start developing trends and data models.
  •  Work your way through your systems to map end-to-end application transactions and business processes.

Step 5: Review and Improve

  • Once you have Capacity Management running at full steam, you need to take a step back and assess.
  • Start to list the lessons you have learned and use these to identify changes that need to be made to the process, so in the future you on-board more areas of the business.
  • Conduct an implementation review to get more data on what’s working and what you can improve.

Great, but what are the benefits to my organisation of implementing Capacity Management?

Getting Capacity Management right brings many benefits to you. It is critical to keeping IT costs down and increasing the quality of Service. We use it to:

  • Get more out of our existing IT resources
  • Fine-tune application and infrastructure components
  • Improve performance and reduce consumption
  • Eliminate redundant work
  • Ensure a consistent approach and reporting
  • Provision capacity effectively
  • Make informed business decisions using timely capacity and related cost information
  • Provide an insight into the total cost of ownership (TCO) of IT equipment and services
  • Predict future use based on growth levels
  • uncover bottlenecks with enough time to stop them before they become service affecting

Capacity Management has close ties to Service Level Management and Financial Management. In fact, capacity management processes lead to more thorough service level and associated financial information for the business. And this helps business leaders make more informed decisions.