Gartner: Major Organizations Need to Grow Performance Management Skills
May 09, 2014
Share this

Agile infrastructures demand that infrastructure and operations (I&O) managers acquire the performance management skills present only in Web-scale IT, according to Gartner, Inc.

While major organizations will need to maintain and sustain their conventional capacity-planning skills and tools, they will also need to regularly re-evaluate the tools available, and make a special effort to acquire and grow the capacity and performance management skills that are rarely evident outside the Web-scale IT community.

"By 2016, the availability of capacity and performance management skills for horizontally scaled architectures will be a major constraint or risk to growth for 80 percent of major businesses," says Ian Head, research director at Gartner. "To take advantage of Web-scale IT approaches to capacity and performance management, IT architects need to fully embrace stateless application architectures and horizontally scaling infrastructure architectures."

Adding additional central processing units (CPUs), memory and storage to a monolithic server has been the traditional, vertical way of scaling up applications while capacity planning has traditionally been developed with the goal of forecasting the requirements for this vertical scaling approach. However, vertical architectures and approaches have limited scalability, making vertical architectures unsuitable for hyperscaling. For service capacity to expand seamlessly to extremely large scales, different approaches are required.

"Organizations managing such services need the ability to rapidly assign and de-assign resources to each service, as well as the ability to scale linearly and continuously as more resources are added or removed," says Head. "They also need high levels of resiliency that will allow sections of the infrastructure to fail without bringing the services down. Designing the underlying infrastructure for horizontal scalability, high degrees of fault-tolerance and rapid, incremental change is a key prerequisite for effective Web-scale operations."

To achieve the overall goal of an infrastructure in which services can consume capacity on an as-needed basis, the overall Web-scale IT capacity planning function may be divided among two teams. The application or product team develops the applications, monitors the consumption of their services in various locations and user subsets, and requests and allocates infrastructure resources based on policy-driven utilization triggers. The infrastructure team ensures that the overall shared physical limits do not constrain the performance of the individual services being continuously developed by the product teams.

Services constructed in this way are better equipped to scale geographically, and share multiple data centers with limited impact on user performance. Although extending service availability to new locations will carry additional burdens and requirements, horizontally scaling application and infrastructure architectures will generally be better equipped to scale geographically, because additional capacity may be used by the different applications, as required and as load patterns shift.

Demand Shaping

Where there are potentially large-scale, limited forecasts or demand history, IT leaders need to develop demand-shaping techniques to provide acceptable performance. Demand shaping enables finite infrastructure resources to maintain their vital always-on character with acceptable, if not consistent, performance experiences across the entire user base. Gartner predicts that through 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will use demand shaping for capacity planning and management, a significant increase from less than one percent in 2014.

When deploying large-scale services, infrastructure and operations leaders need to become proficient in operational analytics tools and big data capabilities, rather than traditional capacity planning tools.

"Traditional capacity-planning tools enable I&O organizations to gather data from various sources, including monitoring tools and, possibly, business demand forecasts, then produce trending, utilization and investment forecast information, taking into account several different scenarios," says Head. "The different architectures and the huge scale of the Web-scale IT organizations make traditional, highly focused tools of limited utility. Demand shaping requires more and different functionality than current off-the-shelf tools provide."

Although different Web-scale organizations grow and adapt their techniques to their specific requirements, a common theme is the extensive use of large volumes of operational data. Even though the infrastructures are large, the horizontal design enables clear visualization and understanding of constraints and dependencies, such that these may be managed as the environment, loads and demands change.

In general, in-memory computing and deep analytics tools are used to extract the required information from a combination of the infrastructure monitoring tools and the instrumentation built into the applications. The resulting analytical information is used to facilitate proactive, real-time and near-real-time actions to allocate resources and manage potential bottlenecks. Similar functionality is also used to model the impact of moving workloads and to simulate the effects of potential infrastructure and application changes.

The outcome is that Web-scale enterprises have developed a set of tools, practices and capabilities that enable real-time demand shaping. These operational skills and tools are unique to each Web-scale organization and so are not yet available in most end-user enterprises.

"Much of the art of achieving always-on, scalable, rapidly changing, high-performance services is a consequence of the advanced use of homegrown and customized analytics and tools by the application and infrastructure teams," Head concludes. "These are used to shape demand in real time and to produce forward-looking capacity and investment plans to an acceptable degree of accuracy."

Related Links:

Gartner analysts will take a deeper look at the outlook for IT operations trends at the Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit taking place June 2-3 in Berlin and June 9-11 in Orlando FL.

Share this

The Latest

June 25, 2020

I've had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations embarking on their AIOps journey. I always advise them to start by evaluating their needs and the possibilities AIOps can bring to them through five different levels of AIOps maturity. This is a strategic approach that allows enterprises to achieve complete automation for long-term success ...

June 24, 2020

Sumo Logic recently commissioned an independent market research study to understand the industry momentum behind continuous intelligence — and the necessity for digital organizations to embrace a cloud-native, real-time continuous intelligence platform to support the speed and agility of business for faster decision-making, optimizing security, driving new innovation and delivering world-class customer experiences. Some of the key findings include ...

June 23, 2020

When it comes to viruses, it's typically those of the computer/digital variety that IT is concerned about. But with the ongoing pandemic, IT operations teams are on the hook to maintain business functions in the midst of rapid and massive change. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is the shift to remote work at scale. Ensuring that they can continue to provide products and services — and satisfy their customers — against this backdrop is challenging for many ...

June 22, 2020

Teams tasked with developing and delivering software are under pressure to balance the business imperative for speed with high customer expectations for quality. In the course of trying to achieve this balance, engineering organizations rely on a variety of tools, techniques and processes. The 2020 State of Software Quality report provides a snapshot of the key challenges organizations encounter when it comes to delivering quality software at speed, as well as how they are approaching these hurdles. This blog introduces its key findings ...

June 18, 2020

For IT teams, run-the-business, commodity areas such as employee help desks, device support and communication platforms are regularly placed in the crosshairs for cost takeout, but these areas are also highly visible to employees. Organizations can improve employee satisfaction and business performance by building unified functions that are measured by employee experience rather than price. This approach will ultimately fund transformation, as well as increase productivity and innovation ...

June 17, 2020

In the agile DevOps framework, there is a vital piece missing; something that previous approaches to application development did well, but has since fallen by the wayside. That is, the post-delivery portion of the toolchain. Without continuous cloud optimization, the CI/CD toolchain still produces massive inefficiencies and overspend ...

June 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially accelerated digital transformation projects. To better understand where IT professionals are turning for help, we analyzed the online behaviors of IT decision-makers. Our research found an increase in demand for resources related to APM, microservices and dependence on cloud services ...

June 15, 2020

The rush to the public cloud has now slowed as organizations realized that it is not a "one size fits all" solution. The main issue is the lack of deep visibility into the performance of applications provided by the host. Our own research has recently revealed that 32% of public cloud resources are currently under-utilized, and without proper direction and guidance, this will remain the case ...

June 11, 2020

The global shift to working from home (WFH) enforced by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders has had a massive impact on everyone's working lives, not just in the way they remotely interact with their teams and IT systems, but also in how they spend their working days. With both governments and businesses committed to slowly opening up offices, it's increasingly clear that a high prevalence of remote work will continue throughout 2020 and beyond. This situation begets important questions ...

June 10, 2020
In recent years, with the emergence of newer technologies ranging from the cloud to machine learning, IT modernization has evolved from a replacement of end-of-life infrastructure to an enabler of innovation and business value. It is a complex process that can take months or even years, but a recent survey shows that the effort begins to deliver measurable results almost as soon as an organization executes the first steps on its roadmap ...