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Why you don't want to Excel at virtualization capacity management

Let me be honest here: I would be thoroughly impressed with myself if I could successfully compile a grocery list on Excel. I offer this as a disclaimer. But even though funnels befuddle me and I’ve managed to merge information straight into the ether, there is one thing I do know about Excel — it’s the wrong tool for virtualization capacity management. And yet, some folks still use it because that’s how they’ve tracked their physical environment.

I learned this at the outset of reporting on today’s featured story about capacity management. I took this information with me as I went on to talk to IT leaders about how they approach capacity management in their virtual environments. Talking with them made it clear that trying to keep tabs with a spreadsheet is like doing your long-form tax return with an abacus. Sure, TurboTax might cost more, but the money you save in mistakes will be worth it in the long run.

This isn’t a plug for any particular vendor or any specific tools. It’s just a helpful tip/warning of things to come. If you are joining the ranks of virtualization nation, you need to pack the right tools. As Gartner analyst and virtualization go-to guy Chris Wolf told me, some of the things that make virtualization great — the small footprint, the ease of provisioning — also make it dangerous. Because of the mobility and the abstraction provided by virtualization, you can’t assume something is in the same place anymore, Wolf pointed out. On top of that, virtualization makes it easy to provision new servers, and if you’re not careful — especially with the capricious capacity demands of the business — it becomes very easy to over-provision, resulting in availability failure. And that’s one trend you certainly don’t want to be a part of.

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