Planning for Expansion

Arthur Cole

More and more demands are being placed on the data center, leading to an ever-expanding roster of hardware build-outs, software upgrades and infrastructure overhauls. But if not done carefully, changes to individual systems can introduce discord and incompatibility that may drastically cut performance over time.


Fortunately, new breeds of capacity and infrastructure planning systems can help you keep on top of things. None other than Microsoft is jumping into the fray with the release of System Center Capacity Planner (SCCP) Beta 1. Geared toward Exchange 2007 environments and running under Microsoft Operations Manager, SCCP lets you engage in a series of "what if" exercises to gauge the impact of changes to your existing topography. And in true Redmond fashion, you're guided through the process by a SAM (System Architecture Model) wizard.


Network components are one thing, but many managers overlook the impact that rapid expansion can have on the physical infrastructure of the data center. Aperture Technologies offers a visual-based system called, oddly enough, Vista, that provides a visual representation of the center so you can make predictions on things like available space, power consumption and cooling requirements. The company recently teamed with Tideway Systems, which has developed the Foundation system for distributed business application modeling and IT service configuration management.


It's also turning out that many business performance platform developers are seeing the advantage of built-in planning solutions. Cognos, for one, was hearing back from customers that rapid expansion and the rise of real-time transactions were making it difficult to manage the company's business intelligence systems. So the company brought in Appfluent Technology to develop a module for capacity planning, growth assessment and other functions.


Probably nothing has done more to cloud the future than virtualization. The presence of untold numbers of virtual servers and storage partitions makes it extremely difficult to predict the impact on hardware and network resources. Virtual sprawl can be just as costly and wreak just as much havoc on performance as physical sprawl. Unfortunately, we have yet to see a planning tool designed specifically for virtual environments.


Planning software is one of the best ways to apply the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared," to the data center. With data now playing a central role in service fulfillment and, well, profitability, the educated guess no longer cuts it.

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