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How useful are storage benchmarks?

Ezine

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Do-it-yourself storage benchmarks
IOMETER: Iometer is an IO workload generator and measurement tool that can be used to measure the performance of block-based and file-based storage systems. It was originally developed by Intel Corp. and has since become an open-source project. It can simulate and benchmark real-world workloads and synthetic workloads generated with a user-friendly GUI that allows a user to select one or multiple IO patterns from a predefined list of IO patterns that vary in data size, IO operations and type of access.

Iometer test results report on total IOs per second, total megabytes per second, average IO response time in milliseconds, maximum IO response time in milliseconds and total CPU utilization. The fact that Iometer is an active open-source project, combined with the tool's versatility, makes it one of the "most popular do-it-yourself benchmarking tools," says ESG's Garrett.

IOZONE: IOzone is a free file-system benchmarking tool that measures and analyzes IO performance of various storage IO operations at variable block sizes. Workloads can be generated synthetically by explicitly defining test parameters like file sizes, but real-world application workloads are also supported by importing IO traces captured with OS-specific tools like strace (Linux) or FileMon (Windows).

IOzone reports on latency and throughput in ops/ sec in relation to the number

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of client processes for the tested IO operations. By default, test results are presented in tabular form, but can be rendered as three-dimensional graphs that aggregate performance characteristics for measured data points. IOzone has a "techie" feel, starting with the way workloads are generated to how test results are presented.

NETBENCH: A freely downloadable CIFS file-system performance benchmarking tool developed by Ziff Davis. It uses a large number of physical test clients to generate a file IO-based workload using the CIFS protocol against a server under test. While testing, the clients record the amount of data moved to a file server or NAS, as well as the average response time for the file server as it responds to the various file IO requests made by the clients. NetBench test results report on the overall IO throughput expressed in megabytes per second and the average response time in milliseconds.

This was first published in October 2007

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