Operating Systems

What are the major business drivers for your enterprise this year? Launching a new product line? The holiday shopping season? A merger with another company? All of the above?

Whatever it is, your enterprise will invest a lot of time and money to ensure success. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people will work on devising and implementing marketing and communication plans. Purchasing and manufacturing organizations will gear up to order raw materials and produce new items, or will increase manufacturing volumes to meet higher seasonal demand. Distribution centers and warehouses will operate in high gear.

Behind the scenes, IT will play a crucial role, supporting e-commerce, supply chain distribution, customer relationship management, order entry, inventory, shipping, and other vital functions. If you have enough of the right IT resources in place to support all these efforts, the company’s investment will pay off nicely. If not, the company could have a major failure on its hands.

Having the right IT resources in the right place, at the right time, and in sufficient quantities is the job of the capacity management team. To do an effective job, that team must be both service aware and business aware. This article explores the ingredients required for service- and business-aware capacity management and describes how to enhance your capacity management efforts.

Linking Business Awareness and Service Awareness

Capacity management has always been critical for IT. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service management books defined capacity management as a key process with three elements:

• Component capacity management, which focuses on monitoring resource capacity across the mainframe and distributed systems, and across physical, virtual and cloud environments
• Service capacity management, which takes into account how resources are used and how they’re shared by various services
• Business capacity management, which takes a business perspective with respect to how resource utilization is linked to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or business drivers.

These three areas correlate with maturity levels—with business-aware capacity management as the highest level.

Service awareness involves the integration of configuration data that reflects how the resources in the environment are organized and must be managed. Specifically, it maps resources to the business services they support. Service awareness is vital, but gaining a true picture of capacity also requires business awareness. To bring business awareness into the equation, you need to establish an actionable link between resource utilization and KPIs. These KPIs can vary widely based on the industry and the individual enterprise. They include such items as transactional volumes and the number of users. They also include events that might cause major changes in transaction volumes and numbers of users. Examples include the summer travel season for the hospitality industry or, for any industry, a change such as a merger or acquisition.

Supporting Service-Aware Capacity Management

The best way to reach the goal of business-aware capacity management is to understand where you are in terms of capacity management maturity. Then take steps to enhance your process. As you move up the maturity ladder, you can enhance processes horizontally or target specific business-critical areas.

The first step is to move up to service-aware capacity management. This requires having a reliable change and configuration management process as well as implementing a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The CMDB provides a single source of truth that provides insight into the components of your environment, how they relate to each other, and how they map to specific technical and business services.

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