Are You Ready To Do Some Capacity Planning?

Stay informed of the company's growth plans, and you can make the network grow right along with it.

If you want a classic example of trying to do more with less, you need to look no further than a network manager trying to run his systems on a limited budget. The best way accomplish this is through capacity planning. If you’re not exactly sure what that means, then you’ve come to the right place. You’re about to get a primer on the subject. So, without further ado …

Just What IS Capacity Planning?

In the context of the world of IT, is the process of estimating how much space, computer hardware and software, and connection infrastructure a business will need over a projected period of time. It’s planning for anticipated traffic and demands, and doing so in a way that you don’t end up short or having resources standing idle. Yes, it’s a balancing act, and it can be very tricky.

Familiarize Yourself With The Terms

One way to get comfortable with capacity planning is to know the jargon. The article “7 Terms That Will Help You Understand Capacity Planning” highlights some of the more common terms. Learning the words not only helps you to better wrap your head around the concept of capacity planning, but it also helps you communicate better with that mysterious group of people known as the IT Department.

Get Good Information

If you think about it, capacity planning can be viewed as one very huge guess. But there’s nothing to say that you can’t make that guess an educated one! That’s why the capacity planner needs to have access to the company’s forecasts and business plans. If the company is going to grow, then the network needs to grow right along with it, at the appropriate rate.

Isolate The Problems

Some forms of capacity planning involve dealing with issues that have come up in the ordinary course of business operations. Perhaps it’s a case of the company growing and no one having initiated any capacity planning in the first place, so now it’s become an ad hoc endeavor. If that’s the case, ask yourself where the weak spots are.

For instance, when and where do users experience the most congestion and bandwidth drain? Are things running slow, and if so, exactly what do they mean by “slow”? Is it just a bit of hesitation, or is it a “go get coffee and a donut because it won’t be done till you return” kind of slow?

That means the capacity planner needs to not only get feedback from users but also some sort of software app used to monitor performance. Such apps may also help determine if any personal/non-work traffic is slowing things down, and thus be the impetus to institute policies to limit such traffic.

Last Thoughts To Bear In Mind

There are two significant truths regarding how companies look at network resources. First of all, companies are reluctant to spend too much money on a network, despite the fact that they want it to be this amazing, fast, multifaceted entity that does everything they want it to. Secondly, and related to the first truth, people tend to take the network for granted (that is until it goes down!). It can be a real struggle to try and anticipate future needs while attempting to justify the expense, but if you have the stats to back up your point, you may end up winning the day!