This subject may be akin to beating a mostly dead horse, but I know people still struggling with situations that can be solved with tools that can calculate showback.

 

The Scenario

 

So, let's assume you are an IT person with, shockingly, little to no budget for non-planned expansion. Suddenly, a wild resource hog appears! This department (or person) wants - no, needs - more resources to do their jobs. Except this department has more resources allocated to it than the rest of the business units you support.  In fact, they have a history of asking for (and receiving) more and more resources. Nobody really knows what they do with those resources.

 

While there are many responses to a resource hog, most people go with frequent repetitions of  "No." Every time you say no, the resource hog gets other people in the department to ask for more.  Sometimes the resource hog gets management involved, which leads to long meetings with budget committees or department heads going over why IT can't just acquiesce with the resource hog's demands. This occasionally leads to you cannibalizing your budget or throwing out your brilliant expansion plans and everyone is mad at IT.

 

Have no fear, for there is hope. Let me introduce you to showback.

 

What is Showback?

 

"Showback" is basically buzzspeak for showing who is using which resources in your virtual environment.  It is frequently discussed with "chargeback," wherein business units are billed for their IT resource consumption.

 

This sounds like a lot of work, right?  If you have access to virtual infrastructure management software, like SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, VMware perfromance monitoring this is actually pretty easy.  The software takes care of most of the work. You can track what resources a department utilizes, when people have last logged in to VMs, the hosts' loads, and other, relevant metrics.

 

What Does Showback Do for You?

 

Most of the time resource hogs don't know what they have available to them or poorly allocate their resources. By using a virtual environment management product, you can highlight underutilized resources, overloaded hosts, zombie VMs, and more. For example, if the resource hog department has 20 hosts, but only use five hosts, it's easy to see that not only do they not know about the other 15 hosts, but that they're overloading the five hosts. And honestly, sometimes they are overloading all 20 hosts and they have a legitimate, if poorly planned, need.

 

As an aside, if you use SolarWinds Virtualization Manager for VMware monitoring, you can use a feature called Capacity Planning to show when you're actually going to run out of resources, based on past resource usage, and then plan appropriately.

 

This all leads to less aggravation and smoother sailing. You can save your time, management's time, and the resource hog's time. You could even save some money by equitably managing your virtual infrastructure needs with fewer surprises.