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Performance monitoring on boot from SAN

Networking expert Greg Schulz offers advice to a reader concerned with I/O rates when booting from a SAN

I'm working on a project now for a bank in Israel, and we are considering booting from the storage area network (SAN). The customer's main fear is the amount of I/O. How can I know how many I/Os each OS will perform on the storage? I know there are many considerations. Can you help me get started?
Depending upon what OSs are involved, there are different tools that can be used to gather various levels of performance detail on a server-by-server basis. Likewise, depending upon what storage systems you have, there are tools that can tell you what your I/O performance is per server of storage I/O port or on a LUN basis.

At a minimum, you should be able to use vendor supplied tools from Microsoft, HP, IBM and Sun to monitor disk I/O performance. Also, you should look at third-party add-on tools. In general, look at the amount of I/Os per second to the various disk drives during the boot process, while monitoring performance during normal running operations. Also, take into consideration performance impact during backup and database maintenances for a holistic performance picture.

Keep track of the average number of I/Os per second, the peak and sustained reads and writes and the average I/O sizes to help characterize the workloads of the server. Depending upon the storage system being used, you should be able to get some information about the I/O workload activity. If this is a new install with no baseline or historical data to work from, you have more of a challenge in front of you. If not sure what to do with a new environment, drop me a note, and we can discuss some different options and strategies.

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