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Data center capacity planning gets visual with latest buyout

The merger of TeamQuest and PureShare adds a new visual component to data center capacity planning and tools to present data center needs to the C-suite.

Little Johnny's struggle to explain his Christmas toy wish list to Santa Claus is real.

That same type of language barrier exists between data center professionals and C-suite executives, and one company hopes to eliminate such communication gap through a recent purchase.

TeamQuest Corp., known for its data center capacity planning and performance software, now has a way to better convey information to executives in the C-suite with the purchase of PureShare Inc.

TeamQuest counts financial, insurance and retail businesses among its customers -- most with large distributed and virtualized environments. PureShare is known for its business value dashboard software. The two companies will combine to predict the health and risk of IT operations and provide IT and business leaders with actionable information to make informed decisions. For example, it will give CIOs a way to articulate the help they need to the CFO.

PureShare technology will look at IT metrics, such as the availability of a system, and compare it to an online retailer's shopping cart volume.

"You can align it to all sorts of service metrics," said Paul Hesser, TeamQuest president and CEO, adding it can connect to tools such as BMC Remedy and ServiceNow.

The two companies will also use modeling to show the business value in the future, Hesser said.

In many large enterprises, there are several employees that work deep in the science of data center capacity planning "and they are the holders of it," according to Hesser. TeamQuest's purchase of PureShare earlier this month broadens the audience for that data and presents it in visually appealing and easy to understand ways.

The merger will allow the PureShare dashboard to access more capacity prediction data, Hesser said. It opens up capacity planning and prediction data "to the masses" in an enterprise,  he added.

"The capacity planning discipline has been typically used for large scale purchases," Hesser said.

For users such as Anne Kottmeier, vice president of IT infrastructure and operations at Laureate Education Inc. in Baltimore, data center capacity planning is front and center.

"The big issue I see on my side is that we are running very quickly out of capacity and we are not managing capacity properly," she said.

Many companies attempt to do things fast without a lot of planning, perhaps because they don't have the right capacity planning tools or a good process, Kottmeier said, which leads to capacity problems.

"I see it not just in my company but many companies, we are all in a rush and we need everything done yesterday," she said.

"We don't optimize and we just spend money," she added.

Traditional capacity planning focused on the data center, but IT resources often reach into other areas of the business, Hesser said.

Enterprises today often allow the business-side to spin up capacity to resolve consumer problems.

"Those businesses are making decisions about speed and cost that are not based on any data," Hesser said.

The business side wants to monitor and control IT spending and also understand the cost, but also allow for the innovation from tools like the ones from TeamQuest and PureShare, he said.

The tool could determine whether it is more cost effective for a company to maintain its own infrastructure to support buying on Cyber Monday or whether to plan to use cloud bursting.

Rich Razon, the co-founder of PureShare and its former vice president of business development who now works as head of business development at TeamQuest, addressed the recent acquisition at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas.

"There will be a new product suite developed as a result of [the purchase]," Razon said.  "You will hear more about it next year."

TeamQuest is "technically competent" but appears to have recognized that the software's output needs to "talk directly to the people with the money," said Ian Head, an analyst at Gartner.

The IT organization has to get itself at the business table.
Ian Headanalyst, Gartner

About 150 data center professionals said the top two reasons they want a data center capacity management tool is to avoid outages and to make better purchasing decisions. The survey was done at Gartner's Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit in London earlier this month. Survey participants also agreed that information is poorly relayed to the CFO.

"A lot of the industry is still using primitive spreadsheet tools," Head said, adding that data provides a basic forecast.

There is a renewed focus on capacity planning -- an evolution from the days when IT professionals used to get certifications in capacity planning, he said.   

"Capacity planning has woken up in the past two to three years," Head said.

The goal is to make the "right way" to plan the "easy way," he said.

While capacity management is an important task for many enterprises, it often trails other priorities such as incident management, change management and a configuration management database, Head said. Most companies do not have a single process to deliver business information from the IT side to the business side and it is typically done with various silos.

TeamQuest's tool gets IT closer to the business side of the company.

"The IT organization has to get itself at the business table," Head said.

Companies such as BMC Software Inc. and CA Technologies also offer complete suites with similar tools to TeamQuest, Head said. With most tools, it is not possible to export the data into a business value dashboard but many companies don't see the value in it, either, he added.

The capacity management and forecasting market also remains separate from the data center infrastructure management software market right now, Head said. While DCIM may share some similar capabilities, they are different, he said.

"We need to make sure we are not just at the data level but give firm guidance about decisions to make," Head said.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at [email protected].

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