Attn, IT Departments: Do You Have The “Right” Server Capacity Tools?

In the case of most IT departments I talk to, I’d settle for ANY tool.

This is something that just boggles my mind. If an excavation company showed up at your business to dig for a new fiber line with a spoon, you’d have security escort them off the premises. If a carpentry contractor showed up with Lego blocks instead of lumber, saws and hammers, you’d rescind the contract. Yet, these scenarios are precisely what most businesses do to their IT teams.

Case in point: a recent RFP we were invited to respond to sets out a rather sizable infrastructure in need of replacement. A couple hundred terabytes of storage, all being replaced in one project, migration of servers, implementation of a new fabric, etc. In the RFP very little actual detail was provided about the existing environment. An IOPS and capacity target are laid out as requirements, but no data as to what the current levels are, how the applications are laid out, and not even so much as a server inventory.

Like any consultant, I take advantage of the question period to ask for these details and a few more. Virtually every question I asked got a response that basically told me that the customer has neither the tools nor the knowledge of how to obtain such information. Understand that I’m not asking for the meaning of life, just for a spreadsheet that lists the servers and the capacity associated with each one and maybe some average I/O measurements over a few days worth of time.

This process should not be this way! Why do businesses hamstring their departments in this manner? Would you send your sales team out without knowledge of their product, or tell manufacturing that a screwdriver doesn’t have enough ROI on it to justify purchasing?

The definition of insanity (or stupidity depending on who you talk to), is doing the same thing repeatedly in the same manner, and expecting different results. That’s what businesses do to IT departments all the time. They refuse to buy them tools, but hold them overly accountable when they didn’t see a performance problem or a failure coming and move to prevent it. And this is only worsening in environments where virtualization has become the standard, not the exception.

The problem really isn’t that hard to solve. It doesn’t require a whole team of people to manage a tool set like maybe it did in years past. Tools like vCenter Operations from VMware and Veeam Reporter (just to name a couple) make this problem disappear.

IT departments share some of the blame in this too. Simple knowledge based operating system tools like System Monitor or iostat can help fill a lot of knowledge gaps and provide a considerable amount of information to design engineers like myself.

Help us help you customers and prospects!  Remember that using the right tool to accomplish the job is just as critical as getting the job done!

Photo Credit: denisecarbonell