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How to Plan Capacity in the Cloud

almighty cloudOne of the issues that consistently plagues IT departments is the issue of capacity planning. Somehow, IT departments and data centers need to utilize their virtual crystal balls to realize when a given business unit or application manager is going to decide that they need more capacity. (Typically, they decide that they needed it yesterday, too.)

In some ways, cloud computing has made things a little bit easier. Cloud computing solutions can be very attractive when you consider in capacity planning. The idea that you can simply contact your vendor and ramp up capacity for an application is enticing, especially compared to the idea of server capacity upgrades.

Still, you need to be able to plan capacity accordingly. You need to be able to choose providers who are going to be able to grow your capacity in short order, and you need to keep from increasing capacity just because you can in order to remain cost-efficient.

Here are three things you can do to reconcile your capacity planning strategies with your use of the cloud:

•    Ration. Most companies, at this late stage in the game, understand that their information assets aren’t unlimited. Budget shortfalls have curbed IT budgets, which has in turn forced use to hit capacity limits. With the cloud, however, capacity can grow to theoretically astronomical proportions. The problem is that each additional bit of capacity still comes at a price. You need to be willing to get app groups to justify their requests for resources. There will probably even be an approval process. Just because you can ramp up capacity on a moment’s notice doesn’t mean you should every time someone asks.

•    Look at both internal and external cloud options. There are instances where it makes more sense to set up a private cloud solution. Once it’s in place, you can actually offer the various application groups the option of whether they want to pay for external cloud services or whether they want to use in-house capacity. Internal solutions will have higher service levels and higher costs, external cloud providers will have less service and less cost.

•    Use cost accounting or chargebacks. Not every organization does chargebacks, but this is one of the best ways to ration and control capacity demand. By justifying the cost of your services, application groups not only consider all of their options, they also recognize what their requests actually cost the organization.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.