How to Successfully Capacity Plan for the Cloud

    April 24, 2018

    By Jeff Schultz

    Operating in the cloud can have some great benefits compared to operating with on-premises software. That’s why surveyed IT professionals predict  83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by the year 2020.

    One benefit with the cloud is having a recurring operating expense rather than a big capital expenditure. The cloud can also make capacity planning easier. At least, the cloud makes it easier to add or remove capacity when needed.

    But, there are some drawbacks to moving into the cloud, too. You can lose sight of exactly how much capacity you have—and how much you’re using. Peter Drucker’s regularly quoted saying rings true for capacity too—“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

    In practice, capacity planning for the cloud isn’t as hands-free as it seems. To do it right, there are eight aspects you need to consider.

    1. Service Level Agreements

    Your organization needs to meet service level agreements (SLAs). Most SLAs are geared toward avoiding downtime and ensuring continuous service delivery.

    This is typically done through ensuring availability and creating a back-up and recovery plan in the event of downtime.

    2. Utilization Patterns

    Utilization patterns help you understand where your use spikes and dips are in server, application, and systems utilization. Utilization changes based on the day or season. When you monitor application utilization, you can properly manage capacity.

    Consider this scenario: You have 4 vCPUs and 2 gb on-premises at 10 percent utilization. But in the cloud, you may only have 1 vCPU and 500 mg of memory. Capacity planning can help you manage that transition.

    3. Workload Analytics

    Assessing your workloads today is an important step in moving your workloads into the cloud.

    You’ll need to consider why workloads change—and what happens when they do. Reviewing historical trends and data will be essential in that evaluation, and you should also consider what the business is projecting. How will that impact your future workloads? For example, planning to add a new customer next quarter will affect capacity demands.

    That positions you to make a smart plan for moving into the cloud.

    4. What to Put in the Cloud

    A top consideration when moving into the cloud is what to put in it. You could end up migrating everything to the cloud eventually, but you’ll probably start small: just a few applications, systems, and servers.

    Things to consider:

    • Applications with a large memory requirement may not be good cloud candidates without refactoring.
    • Do any applications you want to move to the cloud depend on an application you’ll be keeping on-premises?
    • You’ll also need to consider availability. Moving an application into the public cloud can give you greater availability. But if you move an application into the private cloud, it gives you more flexibility and control.
    • Though the cloud can be just as secure as on-premises, you’ll want to make smart moves to lock down your infrastructure as you migrate to the cloud.
    • You’ll also want to consider the impact that moving certain applications into the cloud will have on support. Will it change at all?
    • Finally, are there any external dependencies you need to consider for your applications? An example might be an application dependent on a confidential data source or dependent on another cloud application where availability is a concern.

    5. Data Management Policies

    Data management policies ensure that your organization is properly managing and retaining data. That stays just as important when you migrate to the cloud.

    Some key areas to monitor include:

    • Creation
    • Access
    • Retention
    • Archiving
    • Deletion

    Compliance with data management policies is important, no matter where your workloads are.

    6. Proper Cloud Instance Sizing

    Many organizations make the mistake of not having proper cloud instance sizing when they migrate.

    Proper cloud instance sizing ensures that you have the right instances based on your utilization. (See number 2!) While cloud vendors make recommendations, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure you’ve sized your cloud instances for your needs.

    As you size your cloud instances, you should make sure you understand how much customization is possible. Will you be able to size up or down easily? How much flexibility will you have? Also, consider how many pre-defined sizes make sense at this stage.

    7. Disaster Recovery

    Moving into the cloud doesn’t change your need for a disaster recovery plan. This is still critical for your IT organization.

    By creating this plan, you should know what the recovery time is for your applications, systems, and servers. You should also be able to determine what potential impact—and cost—downtime due to disaster would have on your business. Depending on your recovery window, plan your disaster recovery accordingly.

    8. Business Requirements

    Today, the business counts on IT as a strategic partner. Their business requirements are your IT requirements.

    So on your way to the cloud, you’ll need to map business needs to capacity requirements. This might mean knowing how the business will grow (e.g. 30 percent in three months) and translating that growth into infrastructure needs.

    Your goal should be to support business objectives. And you should be able to tell business users—in their language (cost, response times, availability, etc.)—what’s going to happen in the next three to six months.

    Do Capacity Planning in the Cloud

    Learn more about going into the cloud. Watch our recent webinar, How to Do Capacity Management in the Cloud.


    Category: cloud-computing