Are you ready for IT resource planning?

* Gartner says cloud computing and virtualization will force enterprise IT to update capacity planning approaches

As data centers evolve to incorporate emerging technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing, the practice of planning for IT resources must also change.

Industry watchers argue that capacity management practices in place now won't adequately address the needs of advanced data centers. Essentially, the ever-changing nature of the environment coupled with the immediate demand for resources will alter how IT departments plan for capacity. Gartner recently released a report, "IT Resource Planning: Going Beyond Capacity Planning," which delves into the topic and explains how data center managers can prepare for the additional demand for resources while also avoiding over-provisioning in tough economic times.

"Capacity planning today is all about trying to ensure that you have enough capacity and memory cycles to meet workload demand. But virtualization causes new variables to be taken into consideration, and power consumption is just one among many," says Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner. "For IT resource planning (ITRP) there are several more elements to consider and the process must become much more strategic within an enterprise."

Gartner analysts detailed the many variables that must be taken into account for appropriate enterprise ITRP. Traditional IT capacity metrics need to be considered alongside business requirements, human capital, financial metrics, facilities and power data, risk and compliance information as well as workload placement. Other considerations include configuration management, asset management, change management, event management and performance management, according to the Gartner report.

Facilities and power management, for instance, could be used in conjunction with virtualization technology to save money fast. By optimizing the placement of data center resources into "specific heat sinks," IT managers can reduce the need to heat, ventilate and air condition everywhere. And financial metrics should be taken into account when deciding which applications to run in-house and which to contract to a service provider or cloud computing vendor at a lesser cost, Gartner explains.

"There are different roles that will be involved in this new future of planning; it will require more than the traditional capacity planners. Security people, architects and facilities managers as well as compliance experts need to work together for IT resource planning," Haight says. "We're not certain that there will be one uber-planning role, but more a collaboration among multiple IT disciplines beyond what is considered traditional capacity planning now."

While vendors might not have comprehensive ITRP tools at the ready, Gartner recommends that IT departments begin to adapt their processes for more advanced planning now. By establishing an ITRP center of excellence, Gartner says, companies today can begin to identify the key stakeholders in the capacity planning process and start to define best practices for collaboration.

"Because of the current economic times, be selective in terms of the initial members of this group," the report reads. "We recommend that individuals with financial, facilities and energy-related knowledge form the initial core of the group, because their work would likely have the most immediate payback."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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