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Understanding System Center Capacity Planner

Not formally included in the licensing of the System Center suite, System Center Capacity Planner 2007 is a tool that helps organizations run models for determining the size and system requirements for products like Microsoft Exchange and others. By entering the number of users, the amount of messages sent and received, the number of sites, and the workload of communications traffic, SCCP helps IT architects and designers map out a design and plan for servers to host applications in their environment.

The System Center Capacity Planner 2007 main screen, shown in Figure 1.14, provides the main console for launching capacity assessments.

Figure 1.14

Figure 1.14 System Center Capacity Planner main screen.

Business Solutions Addressed by System Center Capacity Planner

System Center Capacity Planner is used to proactively (rather than reactively) size and scale servers for applications. Rather than building out servers based on a guess and then having to add more RAM, disk space, or CPU to the configuration to support the number of users or the amount of traffic/system demand of the users, Capacity Planner 2007 generates a model that suggests the type of system configurations and network bandwidth utilization anticipated in a system rollout.

Even for organizations that have already rolled out something like Exchange Server 2007 that might be facing sluggish performance or users complaining they are getting response-time errors, a model can be run based on actual user data to determine what SCCP suggests the servers should have in terms of performance and capacity.

SCCP can be used either proactively during the planning process or reactively after performance problems are experienced to determine what might be appropriate for an environment in terms of system configuration.

Major Features of System Center Capacity Planner

The System Center Capacity Planner tool has a number of built-in features and functions for performance and capacity modeling; some of the major features in the product are as follows:

  • Performance assessment modeling—System Center Capacity Planner 2007 allows for information about an environment to be input into the system with a model simulation to be run to confirm the anticipated performance of the configuration. In the System Center Capacity Planner tool, simulation results are generated and displayed in a report similar to the one shown in Figure 1.15.
    Figure 1.15

    Figure 1.15 Simulation results report out of System Center Capacity Planner 2007.

  • Capacity analysis—SCCP can also be used to perform a capacity analysis to determine peak performance demands as well as maximum capacity of a specifically configured environment. This is helpful for organizations that are growing quickly and want to determine the maximum number of users or the maximum size mailboxes that the environment can realistically support. This peak load and maximum capacity analysis can be used to determine the suitability of adding an additional server or adding more memory or processing performance to an existing system to see the results of the configuration.
  • Current usage analysis—Another angle to performing capacity analysis is to enter in the current usage of the environment and determine what percentage of workload the current usage is placing on the existing environment. Are the servers running at 25% of capacity or 75% of capacity given the current workload and configuration? This helps an organization ensure that the servers in place are configured to meet the current and near-terms demands of the organization.
  • Reporting and recommendations—The end result of SCCP is the reports it generates. Reports are generated that provide an analysis of the capacity usage and demands of the environment. These reports can be used to determine what type of hardware needs to be purchased or can be used for budgetary purposes to project what hardware will be needed over the upcoming year to keep up with the operating demands of the organization.

Background on System Center Capacity Planner

System Center Capacity Planner has been available as a download for the past several years, initially as a basic Windows Server capacity analyzer and modeling tool, and more recently with additional components added to the product that enhanced the modeling capabilities of current applications. Today's rendition of the System Center Capacity Planner provides support for modeling Windows Server as well as Microsoft Exchange messaging environments, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) environments, Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) environments, and System Center Operations Manager 2007 (SCOM) environments.

Microsoft continues to add more modeling components to the System Center Capacity Planner to keep up with the addition of new products and new server models available.

What to Expect in the System Center Capacity Planner Chapter

In this book, a single chapter is dedicated to the System Center Capacity Planner product. Chapter 17, "Using System Center Capacity Planner for Predeployment Planning," covers what SCCP is, how it fits into the modeling assessment for applications, and the step-by-step process of running models and simulations as well as how to read and understand the reports generated.

System Center Capacity Planner 2007 is a helpful tool to run either proactive planning or reactive assessment simulations to determine or to confirm the capacity of servers for given applications. Jump to Chapter 17 of this book for specific information and deployment and configuration guidance on how SCCP can be best leveraged in your enterprise.

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