SKILLS AND ABILITIES
- Associate a stakeholder with the information that needs to be collected.
- Utilize customer inventory and assessment data from a current environment to define a baseline state.
- Analyze customer interview data to explicitly define customer objectives for a conceptual design.
- Identify the need for and apply requirements tracking.
- Given results of a requirements gathering survey, identify requirements for a conceptual design.
- Categorize requirements by infrastructure qualities to prepare for logical design requirements.
ASSOCIATE A STAKEHOLDER WITH INFORMATION THAT NEEDS TO BE COLLECTED
Who are stakeholders? why do we need stakeholders? In any given project, especially in large projects, we need to go through the process of identifying the right stakeholders for the project. That’s right, not anyone can be a stakeholder but at the same time, a stakeholder or a group of stakeholders can span many departments due to the complexity of the project and/or project integration with various departments within the organization. A stakeholder or a group of stakeholders are people that have impact or impacted by the project. These stakeholders can be anyone from the help desk team to the leadership team such as managers, directors, and c-level executives. For example, here’s a small list of possible stakeholders for a given IT project:
- System Administrators
- Network Administrators
- Storage Administrators
- Security Analyst
- Infrastructure Administrators
- Legal Team
- Project Managers
Usually, stakeholders are defined by the organization that is running the project. I can tell you that when I start working on the projects, the stakeholders are usually defined ahead of time so that by the time we start working on the design, the whole identification process is already complete and everyone is on board. I will suggest, and again from experience that some organization might not necessarily understand the need for stakeholders, but as the consultant, we need to go through the process and identify the right people for the project.
UTILIZE CUSTOMER INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT DATA FROM A CURRENT ENVIRONMENT TO DEFINE A BASELINE STATE
The idea here is to gather information in order to be able to put together a baseline. The vBrownbag crew has some interesting points, more specifically Jason Boche had a nice slide that I see a lot of people refer to, I’ll post it below:
- Initial Design Meeting: Scopes, Goals, Requirements and Constraints
- Current-State analysis: Complete Datacenter inventory
- Stakeholder and SME’s training
- Design Session: Design Decisions with SMEs and Stakeholders
- Design Deliverables-Documentation: Capacity planning, hosts, monitoring, vCenter, etc
ANALYSE CUSTOMER INTERVIEW DATA TO EXPLICITLY DEFINE CUSTOMER OBJECTIVES FOR A CONCEPTUAL DESIGN
What is a conceptual design? Every design starts with a goal in mind. What are we trying to achieve? what are the drivers behind this project? I know for me, in order to start seeing the big picture, I need to draw it out, see what it looks like on paper. So, All designs start with a conceptual design, it is the first phase of the design we’re trying to achieve. The second question we want to ask is, how do we go about creating the conceptual design? In order to do so, we need to gather some information, the information gathered usually comes from:
- Stakeholder meetings
- Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
- Analysis performed earlier
A conceptual design does not need to be a nice Visio diagram, it can be something that we manually draw on a piece of paper using a pen or pencil. Or something like a rough draft in Visio with basic details about only the major components in the architecture. Keep the conceptual design as an overview of what we’re trying to achieve, the details come later.
IDENTIFY THE NEED FOR AND APPLY REQUIREMENTS TRACKING
Requirements are an essential part of design, why? because the design is built based on the company requirements, we cannot create a design and not address the company needs. All requirements should be listed correctly using a sequencing system such as numbering from 1-10 or letters from a-z, whatever you feel will demonstrate the requirements clearly to the customer.
I also want to mention the 4 very important key factors in a design, those are:
- Functional and Non Functional Requirements
For the most part, they’re all self-explanatory, however I’d like to point out a few things. Functional and Non-Functional requirements, kind of fall under the same factor, which is “Requirements” The difference between the two is quite easy to understand. A functional requirement, is what we’re trying to achieve in our design. For example, we want to consolidate our datacenter with fewer servers, reduce the cost of electricity, and so on. This is the goal, so the Functional Requirement of this project is to achieve consolidation. A Non-Functional requirement, is similar to that of a Constraint, where for example the company we’re trying to build the design for can only use HP servers, in other words, the company is tied to a specific vendor, which is also considered to be a constraint. Non-Functional requirements can be changed, as a pose to Functional Requirements, why? because a Functional Requirement is the reason why we’re building this design in the first place, we’re trying to consolidate a datacenter, so that most likely will not change. If for example, the HP servers do not have the necessary functionality to achieve the datacenter consolidation, the customer might end up changing vendors to achieve their goals (Non-Functional Requirement).
GIVEN RESULTS OF A REQUIREMENTS GATHER SURVEY, IDENTIFY REQUIREMENTS FOR A CONCEPTUAL DESIGN
This is something that we’ve already identified above, but essentially before we can start putting together a conceptual design, we need to gather information about the current environment, come up with the risks, requirements, constraints, and assumptions, perform the necessary analysis so that we can then start working on the design.
I personally haven’t had the chance to use it, but the VMware Capacity Planning Tool can definitely help here.
CATEGORIZE REQUIREMENTS BY INFRASTRUCTURE QUALITIES TO PREPARE FOR LOGICAL DESIGN REQUIREMENTS
We’re going to be talking more about Logical Design in a later post, but for the record, let’s give a brief explanation of what a logical design is. Let’s assume that you’re an Architect looking to design a site resilient datacenter. The first steps to building a successful environment requires that we understand exactly what we’re trying to achieve (we’ve covered this above). Diagrams help us see the big picture, it allows us to make changes to our design on paper before we decide to deploy. A logical diagram, is the second phase of our design, conceptual design being the first phase.
So how do the two designs, Conceptual and Logical defer? Good question. If we look at a conceptual design, the sole purpose is to show a very high level overview with only the most important pieces of the puzzle (our design). A logical design, is almost the same in some ways, such as giving us an overview of the design, but also include the relationships between each of the important components that we list in the design such as connections, flow of information, some configuration, etc.