How to Do Cloud Capacity Planning

Cloud Infrastructure in a hand, cloud capacity planning

Operating in the cloud rather than on-premises can have some great benefits. Cloud adoption is growing every year.

One benefit of cloud is having smaller recurring operating expenses rather than one big capital expenditure. The cloud can also make capacity planning easier since adding and removing capacity is much easier.

But, there are some drawbacks to moving into the cloud, too. You can lose sight of exactly how much capacity you have—and how much you’re using. Peter Drucker’s regularly quoted saying rings true for capacity—“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Capacity planning for cloud seems to be hands-free, but there are eight things you should do to ensure success.

Cloud Capacity Planning

1. Consider Service Level Agreements

Your organization needs to meet service level agreements (SLAs). Most SLAs are geared toward avoiding downtime and ensuring continuous service delivery.

This is typically done through ensuring availability and creating a back-up and recovery plan in the event of downtime.

2. Monitor Applications Utilization

Utilization patterns help you find use spikes and dips in server, application, and systems utilization. Utilization changes based on the day or season. When you monitor application utilization, you can properly manage capacity.

Consider this scenario: You have 4 vCPUs and 2 gb on-premises at 10 percent utilization. But in the cloud, you may only have 1 vCPU and 500 mg of memory. Capacity planning can help you manage that transition.

3. Review Workload Analytics

Assessing your workloads today is an important step in moving your workloads into the cloud.

You’ll need to consider why workloads change—and what happens when they do. Reviewing historical trends and data will be essential in that evaluation, and you'll need to consider the business forecast. How will that impact your future workloads? For example, planning to add a new customer next quarter will affect capacity demands, and knowing those demands can help you prepare a better plan.

4. Decide What to Put in the Cloud

A top consideration when moving into the cloud is what to put in it. You could end up migrating everything to the cloud eventually, but you’ll probably start small: just a few applications, systems, and servers.

Things to consider:

  • Applications with a large memory requirement may not be good cloud candidates without refactoring
  • Do potential cloud applications depend on an application you’ll be keeping on-premises?
  • Public vs. private? Moving an application into the public cloud can give you greater availability. But if you move an application into the private cloud, it gives you more flexibility and control.
  • Just as you have to secure on-premises infrastructure, you'll need to make smart move to lock down your cloud migration
  • How will moving applications to the cloud affect support? Will it change?
  • Finally, are there any external dependencies you need to consider for your applications? An example might be an application dependent on a confidential data source or dependent on another cloud application where availability is a concern.

5. Evaluate Data Management Policies

Data management policies ensure that your organization is properly managing and retaining data. That stays just as important when you migrate to the cloud.

Some key areas to monitor include:

  • Creation
  • Access
  • Retention
  • Archiving
  • Deletion

Compliance with data management policies is important, no matter where your workloads are.

6. Pick the Proper Size

Many organizations make the mistake of not having the right size of cloud instance when they migrate. 

(See number 2 for how to know how much you need!) While cloud vendors make recommendations, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure you’ve sized your cloud instances for your needs.

As you size your cloud instances, you should make sure you understand how much customization is possible. Will you be able to size up or down easily? How much flexibility will you have? Also, consider how many pre-defined sizes make sense at this stage.

The explosion of cloud adoption has put a lot of pressure on technology leaders to move to the cloud...and move quickly. But sometimes these moves can result in enormous bills. This is often called "cloudshock" because the unexpected cost involved has a heart-stopping effect. Learn how to keep cloud costs down in this guide>>

7. Plan for the Worst

Even if you move into the cloud, you still need a disaster recovery plan.

You should know what the recovery time is for your applications, systems, and servers and be able to determine what potential impact—and cost—downtime due to disaster would have on your business. Depending on your recovery window, plan your disaster recovery accordingly.

8. Meet Business Requirements

Today, the business counts on IT as a strategic partner. Their business requirements are your IT requirements.

So on your way to the cloud, you’ll need to map business needs to capacity requirements. This might mean knowing how the business will grow (e.g. 30 percent in three months) and translating that growth into infrastructure needs.

Your goal should be to support business objectives. And you should be able to tell business users in their language (cost, response times, availability, etc.) what’s going to happen in the next three to six months.

Learn how to operate efficiently in the cloud

Download 6 Ways to Make Your Cloud More Affordable for best practices for cloud optimization and cost management.