August 23, 2011

    Cloud computing has rapidly and dramatically changed the model for distributing and managing services. With this new model, many benefits and savings are achieved, but it also comes with challenges when it comes to developing the right strategy that fits your organizational needs.

    Many IT organizations do not fully understand the potential conflicts of a cloud environment or lack the visibility into the performance of the application or service, according to the a 2011 Forrester Consulting study.

    When it comes to managing capacity and performance in the cloud, many IT organizations are not taking full advantage of the benefits that can be provided by establishing a good capacity management process and using their capacity management tools to gain the full benefits.


    1. Planning your cloud environment

    Planning is essential in any process. Provisioning in the cloud too quickly can lead to many pitfalls, like losing total control of your IT process, overestimating your cloud capabilities and exponentially increasing the cost of your cloud initiative. Planning will also speed up the release of new IT services into the cloud.

    "Because the cost of cloud computing is directly linked to resource usage, planning the capacity needed to process a workload in the cloud is directly linked to an estimate of cost and consequently to an informed decision about the choices that are now available to IT."
    The Key to Cloud and Virtual Computing Managing and Planning Capacity in 2011 and beyond Forrester Consulting

    Keep in mind the following when planning:

    1) What services will you offer in the cloud?' What is the initial sizing needed? Do not be tempted to add everything. You need to understand your applications and your computing resources in the cloud. Collecting performance data will enable you to understand the resource consumption and provide an estimate to the initial sizing of your cloud environment.

    2) How will it be managed? Visibility to performance metrics is vital, especially if you are on a public or hybrid cloud. At the end of the day, these are physical resources that need to me monitored and managed. If you have a hosting solution, how will you have visibility of these performance metrics?

    3) How will I measure Service Levels? Whether you are in a private cloud or using a hosting provider, you need to monitor and report on your agreed service levels. This means, you must have some visibility of the IT service or application, or at least, have information about response time from a user's perspective. Otherwise, if you don't measure these, you are not providing business value.

    4) How will my business change over time? Planning for spikes, growth, and seasonal changes before you add services and application to the cloud. According to Forrester, Workloads evolve with time and business events. Performance monitoring, linked to resource allocation, lets IT operations take advantage of the flexibility offered by virtualization and cloud computing by providing a ''throttle'' that will constantly adapt resources to the workload as a function of expected performances.

    TeamQuest can assist in your planning by providing decision support for determining which services should be relegated to the cloud and how much of those services should run on the cloud. A careful cost and performance analysis of various options will be required. TeamQuest Model can assist with your 'what-if' scenarios that can prepare you be ready when you encounter spikes, sudden growth and seasonal changes.

    2. Measuring Business Value

    Measuring business value means you will have SLAs (service-level agreements) with your cloud provider, setting expectations and responsibilities for both parties and negotiating any penalties for failing to meet those expectations. But you cannot rely on the hosting partner to provide these metrics for you.

    TeamQuest can help you measure the business value by tracking and reporting service performance against SLAs on an ongoing basis on things like response time and throughput service levels. It will also improve things like mean time between failures (availability), improve IT efficiency and reduce potential impact to the business due to unplanned outages. All adding to your goal of increasing business value.

    3. Monitoring the Performance

    Going beyond measuring business value, you should also measure IT specific metrics in your private cloud and public clouds. On a private cloud you can monitor your resources and create alerts that can speed restoration by easily drilling down to pinpoint the causes of incidents.

    A strong capacity management process is considered by a majority of respondents as the best approach to avoid performance issues in a virtualized environment'
    The key to Cloud and Virtual Computing Managing and Planning Capacity in 2011 and beyond Forrester Consulting

    You can become proactive by creating a Linear Trending Analysis that takes selected parameter values, calculates a trend line for the selected parameter, and then projects that trend line into the future, thus potentially avoiding a future disaster. All of this is automated and it gets evaluated on a specific schedule (usually every 24 hours).

    In a public cloud, you can measure response times and the experience from a customer's perspective. You can automate this process to run on a schedule, let's say every 10 minutes, and alert you on any thresholds you have applied.

    4. Continuous Service Improvement

    Change is a constant in IT, and the cloud is no exception. In fact, because of the complexity nature of the cloud, with a mix of virtual, physical, applications, services, public, private and scalability agility, the change is rapid and competitive.

    In order to compete, your cloud initiative should continually improve and re-invent your service offerings. By doing so, your demand will be affected and the right capacity, at the right time, at the right cost mix will be essential for meeting your desired business goals.
    Continuous Service Improvement should start immediately after your cloud implementation is done, not in 9 months. SLAs are measured, gap analysis conducted, identification of potential risks and efficiency of the services and process must be an ongoing process. This continuous process is how we gain IT maturity.

    The TeamQuest CMIS provides the server infrastructure performance and usage information needed for the IT staff to perform these assessments and assuring a measurable improvement of your services.

    As you can see, TeamQuest's suite of performance and capacity analysis tools can add excellent value to getting the right cloud computing environment in your business. These set of tools are easy to use, flexible and satisfy the needs of capacity planners, service level managers, performance analysts or predictive modelers in assisting with the cloud configuration, reducing performance issues and reducing all budgets across in your IT organization.