Intelligent Capacity Planning in the Modern Data Center
June 26, 2015

Every day your expanding business forces you to stay within budget while meeting endless customer and organizational demands. Intelligent capacity planning keeps operations running smoothly by helping you prepare for the future. Take action according to your needs by understanding your capacity limitations, getting the most out of current capacity and adding capacity in a deliberate way.

Determining Capacity
Before you can plan for extra capacity, you must understand your current capabilities. You need to know about servers, cables, routers, switches and storage devices. You need to track existing racks, power supplies, cooling capacity and floor space across all data centers. Without data center infrastructure management software, you would be forced to inventory this equipment by hand and then maintain records in a mess of spreadsheets.
DCIM streamlines the process by supplying a centralized point of record keeping, analysis and reporting. In particular, Sunbird's dcTrack DCIM Operations solution lets you visualize physical space, available rack ports, power consumption and capacity for circuit panels, UPSs and CRACs. See mission-critical details about storage, power, networking and computing without frustrating silos. Keep your database up to date from the initial planning and provisioning to the decommissioning process at the end of the equipment's life. You establish a baseline for using existing capacity effectively while preparing for future growth.

Using Current Capacity
After you understand the data center's capacity, work on eliminating inefficiencies. Why buy more servers when you have underutilized or underperforming equipment sitting in the racks already? dcTrack capacity management helps you limit stranded capacity, identify the best possible place for equipment and streamline work plans. The color-coded usage map gives you a real-time view of the data center, and you can customize the display with user-defined thresholds. With the Cabinet Inspector, you can gather even more details, including unused space, available versus budgeted power, idle fiber and copper ports, branch circuit feeds and rack PDU details.
Part of current capacity includes redundant capacity, which compensates in case of equipment failures or scheduled maintenance. Technicians spread the workload across multiple systems to prevent service disruptions. DCIM gives you control over this distribution without guesswork. You get the extra capacity you need without wasting resources and incurring unnecessary expenses.

Adding Capacity
At some point, you will outgrow the equipment in your centers. Your growth, however, requires more than extra floor space. You may need new servers, additional power units, greater cooling capacity and tighter environmental controls. DCIM lets you reserve space, power and cooling in real time with an easy-to-use interface. Multiple technicians can work on projects independently without fear of duplication, errors and unsaved changes. Quick searches and optimal placement specifications make provisioning fast and easy.
When you add capacity, you must consider normal growth, planned growth and headroom. To calculate normal or organic growth, investigate year-over-year trends and exclude special events, such as new product rollouts or large marketing campaigns. Then look at the potential impact on loads from next year's expected growth. Know when these increases are likely to occur, so you can restructure and order resources in advance. Finally, add headroom to cover occasional spikes in usage. Data center infrastructure management tools help you understand these trends so you can plan for the future placement of IT equipment.
In the end, intelligent capacity planning stops surprises and the problems that come from them. By tracking your current capacity, maximizing efficiency and adding capacity in a sustainable way, your organization can stay at the forefront of the modern data center.

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