EAP With Simulation-Based Decision Support

Any company keeping up with today's fast paced IT industry has implemented Enterprise Architecture Planning. By using simulation techniques, EAP won't just save time, but will also be cost effective. The solution begins with decision support software that simulates the real world. And ends with delivering innovative IT network series.

Data warehousing, e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are firmly entrenched as business-critical operations that can make or break nearly every company. These great expectations have forced IT to rethink its traditional piecemeal approach to systems implementation. In the past, network managers, systems administrators and application specialists concentrated on their individual silos without much thought as to how the overall puzzle fit together.

However, today's no-excuses-just-make-sure-it-works attitude has given rise to the practice of Enterprise Architecture Planning, or EAP. At its most fundamental level, EAP is the alignment of IT resources and services with the operational and competitive needs of the business. EAP is a two-step process in which IT managers must first must identify what is needed to support an organization and then lay out a blueprint to make it happen.

Fortunately for IT, there is a solution. Decision support software, based on simulations closely mirroring the real world, has evolved to a point where its accuracy and ease of use make it the most powerful, cost-effective and reliable technique to guide IT through the countless EAP decisions. Applying the same technology that R&D organizations have used for years, IT staffs can finally abandon the costly, risk-avoidance practice of over-engineering and concentrate on accelerating the introduction of new and innovative services that businesses can use as competitive differentiates in today's global marketplace.

Simulation enables IT staffs to experiment with countless "what if" scenarios quickly and inexpensively to determine a best course of action for every decision that must be made. And it can do so without any impact on the production network and without the need for burdensome trial implementations. The cost and time necessary to manually test a similar number of scenarios is prohibitive and does not enable scalability testing. And, simulation allows EAP to be an ongoing and dynamic process, helping optimize day-to-day network and application performance by identifying potential causes of problems and helping chart a path that ensures optimal business productivity.

Simulation-based decision support software, such as MIL 3's IT DecisionGuru and HP's OpenView Service Simulator, assists IT organizations by:

  • Predicting when traffic loads will reach a point requiring additional bandwidth;
  • Avoiding over-provisioning of very expensive WAN capacity;
  • Identifying potential performance gains associated with relocating a data center;
  • Weighing the price/performance benefit of migrating technologies (e.g., FDDI backbone to ATM);
  • Determining if IT resources will deliver service-levels in compliance with existing or proposed SLAs; and
  • Illustrating the impact of new application deployments on existing IT services.

    Recently, a major East Coast bank put the power of simulation to the test. The bank was planning a significant Voice over IP (VoIP) deployment across its packet switched network linking several major sites in the Mid-Atlantic region. The cost savings offered by converged voice and data communications is significant when compared to operating an auton-omous voice network using the traditional public telephone network. However, the bandwidth and Quality of Service (QoS) requirements of VoIP could have a potentially devastating impact on less time-sensitive, yet extremely important e-mail, ERP and OLTP traffic.

    In the past, the bank would have had no alternative but to grossly over provision multiple frame relay or ATM links between its sites and pare down its capacity gradually as the IT staff determined appropriate capacity. Using simulation-based Decision Support Software, the bank was able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by purchasing only the necessary bandwidth and an appropriate buffer to ensure that it could handle any spikes in usage without sacrificing the productivity of thousands of employees relying on the network for countless business functions.

    IT organizations have a golden opportunity to shine by implementing a proven EAP methodology based on an appropriate simulation technology to deliver new and differentiating IT services. Network-based applications and information are at the heart of virtually every organization. As companies commit millions of dollars to IT projects, deployment failure is not an option. Simulation empowering IT decision making is IT's silver bullet, helping overcome nearly any IT challenge quickly and cost effectively.

    - Shobana Narayanaswamy is an Engineer and Marc Cohen is CEO at MIL 3.