Most companies caught sleeping at the capacity planning wheel

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Sumerian, the UK headquartered predictive IT capacity analytics provider, has announced the results of its latest research, in conjunction with analyst house Freeform Dynamics.

The research revealed a genuine mismatch between the IT infrastructure that businesses have in place versus what they actually need, supporting the widely held view that there is significant overspend on server capacity across industries.Worryingly, it also revealed a total mismatch between the capacity management tools and processes currently in place versus those needed to deal with this issue.

Key highlights

  • 76% of IT professionals resort to overprovisioning IT infrastructure in order to avoid capacity related issues
    'Overprovision and forget' remains the most common approach amongst IT professionals, with the vast majority relying heavily or partially on instinct and vigilance (90%), system alerts and alarms (86%), and a range of ad hoc tools and practices (73%), to manage capacity in a very reactive way. As a result, less than one in five (18%) rated their capacity planning practices for their overall IT system resources as "very effective," with others admitting they were less than ideal (54%), or wholly inadequate (21%).
  • Over half of organisations (59%) still experience downtime and service degradation as a result of capacity-related issues
    In spite of a reliance on overprovisioning to avoid capacity problems, half of organisations (49%) have also experienced costly and disruptive emergency procurements when resource limits are unexpectedly reached. A fifth (21%) have experienced commercial loss or brand damage as a result of poor capacity management, and a third (34%) feel that it's only a matter of time before they experience escalating or uncontrolled costs relating to the use of cloud-based VMs and storage.

  • More than three in five (61%) IT staff experienced blame for capacity related incidents when warnings fell on deaf ears
    IT staff are still the first to be held accountable when problems occur, while less than one in five (18%) experienced praise for avoiding such incidents in the first place. IT teams, hard pressed to keep down costs, are still struggling to get their message across. More than four in five cited both lack of senior executive understanding of the issues (84%), and securing budget to implement and run necessary solutions (86%), as challenges in relation to IT capacity planning and management.

The survey results suggest that this de facto approach to IT capacity planning – overprovisioning and relying on instinct and ad hoc tooling to get by – is no longer a viable strategy.

Tony Lock, Distinguished Analyst at Freeform Dynamics, said: "The frequent reliance, even today, on overprovisioning to avoid capacity problems has a direct impact on IT costs. Moreover, the heavy dependence on Excel spreadsheets and the judgement calls of over-stretched IT staff in their spare time is probably not the best answer. A well-managed, more robust approach to capacity planning is critical."

Despite the small minority (18%) of IT staff reporting very effective overall IT capacity management practices, and the evidence pointing to overprovisioning and outages across industries, less than one in three (30%) apply the latest techniques like predictive analytics/ machine learning to optimise their IT resource capacity.

Peter Duffy, CTO of Sumerian, said: "In an age of complex, multi-platform environments, where even a single component hitting a capacity issue can cause slowdown or failure, the commercial risk and impact can far outlast the technical fix. The prevailing approach of 'winging it' will neither protect brand trust nor control costs. What's more, the trend to rely more heavily on seemingly cheap cloud-based resources for infinite elasticity is not the answer and will leave many facing unexpected cumulative costs. In order to successfully control risk and costs to the business, there is a clear need for a more advanced, automated and proactive approach to be taken, using techniques such as predictive analytics."

Sumerian's CPaaS (Capacity Planning as a Service) is a cloud based subscription service that enables IT teams to instantly visualise their current capacity position, take proactive action based on predicted future capacity events and model planned change to assess its impact. It combines cutting-edge software with expert services that can be dialled up or down at any time to supplement often scarce in-house skills and resources. Armed with the statistically accurate insight produced, organisations can rightsize capacity, improve performance and reduce costs, ensuring business continuity and an IT infrastructure adaptable to change.

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