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How useful are storage benchmarks?

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In addition, storage systems can be configured in numerous ways, including the number of spindles, cache size, fault tolerance configurations, data protection schemes, compression and deduplication (to name a few), all of which affect performance. Obviously, the configuration used to benchmark an array is unlikely to match your specific configuration.

The ultimate benchmarking challenge is the comparison of disparate storage systems from different vendors, which multiplies all of the problems mentioned earlier. Not only are there an astronomical number of permutations when diverse technologies, components and configurations are taken into account, but storage vendors must be willing to use standardized benchmarks that allow for an apples-to-apples comparison.

Types of benchmarks
Contemporary storage benchmarks can be divided into two groups: industry-standard and do-it-yourself.

Industry-standard benchmarks: The primary storage benchmarks in these groups are the SPC's SPC-1 and SPC-2 and Standard Performance Evaluation Corp.'s (SPEC) SPEC SFS. SPC and SPEC are nonprofit organizations with an agenda to standardize performance benchmarking and provide a vendor-agnostic way to compare storage systems. A committee or council consisting of organization members oversees, regulates and audits all benchmarking

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activities.

This was first published in October 2007

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