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Capacity Management for Digital Transformation

At the end of the day, when you light a flammable gas inside a small container, the gas will expand, and, if there is not enough capacity in the container, you are likely to see something fail dramatically.

As 2018 came to a close we hosted a Seminar (Capacity Management for Digital Transformation) at the Royal Institution in London. Where, as you may have guessed, from their track record of Christmas Lectures, they organised some pyrotechnics for us, and the day closed with a bang!

A number of Syncsort’s Athene™ customers were invited to talk at the seminar, with topics covering:

  • The Cloud is full of Opportunities
  • Creating A Capacity Service from Scratch
  • Capacity Management experiences with Dev Ops
  • UNIX Estate Monitoring – Optimisation & Balancing
  • Capacity in a Regulated Industry

It’s always interesting to get real information from the people at the sharp end. Wayne McLaughlin’s discussion on Dev Ops, and how Yorkshire Building Society are reviewing data daily in Athene, with the teams testing and implementing new features, is certainly a world many others are starting to experience. Long gone are the days of a yearly capacity plan! We are virtually at the point where Capacity Information needs to be available 24×7, to empower other teams to make decisions and see the effects of changes over time.

Malcolm Gunn discussed the use of Cloud and the impact on Capacity Management. Malcolm uses Athene on many of Sopra Steria’s accounts, taking advantage of its flexibility to import data from everywhere and present clear capacity dashboards. Malcolm introduced the audience to the “Guardians of the Cost Center”. This tied in nicely with the discussion session I hosted about the future of Capacity Management. The discussion focused largely around cost, cloud, and how capacity management is the process that can minimize the ongoing costs of cloud hosting via constant monitoring and review of cloud usage. To steal a slogan from Malcolm’s presentation, “The more we see, the more we can question, the more we can improve”

On the other hand the platforms and techniques we know and love don’t go away. Phil Braithwaite gave us a run through of his matured capacity process for UNIX on IBM Power. Phil has been using Athene for many years and makes sure to squeeze every last penny of value out of his servers by balancing LPARs efficiently. I fully believe not one KWh of energy is wasted on IBM Power systems by the energy company he works for.

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While Phil has been involved with Capacity and Athene for many years, a relative newcomer to the field was Chris Stroud. Chris has recently been through the process of setting up a capacity service and choosing his tools using a MoSCoW technique. (Athene I’m glad to say was chosen!). Chris has been mentored by some long standing capacity analysts, and fully understood that as a team of one, he needed to choose a tool that could automate and simplify his role as much as possible.

I think the best use of a quote from the day, should also go to Chris with his choice of: The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “That’s funny…” — Isaac Asimov. Giving other teams access to capacity and performance data in Athene’s Dashboards, is enabling them to see into their systems and diagnose issues more quickly than they ever have.

Tim Collins was the last of our guest speakers. Tim has the challenge of keeping 86 regulators across the world happy. Well, that and 38 million end customers. Scale, automation and being the provider of information for other teams to use are key. With the correct tooling and understanding of his role in the business, Tim manages to keep his team small and an international bank trading.

If we are to take a theme from the day and the great presentations given by our customers, it’s probably that having the data is only the start. You have to make data available 24×7 to other teams in the business, so that they can use it to do their job better, and you can use it to become one of the “Guardians of the Cost Center.” 

…Oh, and by the way, don’t stand too close to science experiments involving ethanol and naked flames!

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