Thursday, October 02, 2008

Cloud Compuing and Capacity management

Capacity management is a critical part of ensuring that your company is getting the performance and functionality it needs from computation resources. It ensures that the required IT resources are available to conduct day-to-day business and also ensures that just enough money is being spent to do so, not more, or less. As the resources available to IT evolve -- cloud computing, virtualization, and other innovations -- the requirements and benefits of capacity management will also change.

Capacity planning: From buckets to rivers
When dealing with a constrained set of resources found in the traditional, in-house data center, capacity management can be metaphorically viewed as making sure you have a big enough bucket to hold all of the water the business needs to slake its thirst. There are boundaries on this pool of resources because the IT department must own each computational resource: hardware, software, and the people used to deliver and manage it. Capacity management under this "bucket" approach tends to center on predicting peak usage needs and ensuring that in-house data centers can meet those demands.

Years ago, grid or utility computing promised to offer an alternative to this physical limit; instead of a bucket, IT resources would be like a fast flowing river that limitless cycles could be drawn from. For various reasons -- such as low bandwidth to remote grids, the high cost of entry, and the batch-job nature of most grid offers -- grid and utility computing didn't go mainstream in initial efforts.

Slipping in under the moniker "cloud computing," some of the aspirational benefits of utility computing are once again making the rounds in IT departments. The same challenges that muddled utility computing efforts must be addressed. Hopefully better networks and a bias for application-based instead of job-based computing will cause greater uptake.

At first, cloud computing hopes to run your baseline of IT services "in the cloud" with the goal of paying less overall than if you owned your own data center. After this, however, the aspiration of cloud computing is to provide IT departments with unlimited computing power, on demand. How will IT departments properly manage this river of IT?


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