The task of maintaining peak storage performance is critical for the modern storage administrator. More and more mission-critical applications rely on the shared storage infrastructure for real-time activities. The fact is, these new storage technologies have absolutely improved storage performance, flexibility and manageability, but they have not solved the issues generated at the file system level, such as the tidal wave of unnecessary I/O caused by the Windows OS splitting files apart upon write.
This surplus of unnecessary I/O is a phenomenon that affects storage space, causing it to be used inefficiently thereby reducing storage capacity and performance. Excessive I/O causes bottlenecks, which result in a significant increase in latency, application freezes, system hangs, long disk queue lengths, and more problems.
How do I increase my storage performance?
As storage solutions and infrastructures have evolved, so have solutions to address performance. “Prevention is better than the cure” is a popular and very IT applicable maxim. That philosophy, applied to preventing unnecessary read and write I/O with V-locity’s IntelliWrite® and IntelliMemory™ I/O optimization technology, is the ultimate solution to maximizing performance of modern storage solutions.
V-locity® uniquely addresses the unnecessary I/O patterns of reads and writes by aggregating data on writes to perform sequentially while caching reads on available server memory without contention to the application. As a result, V-locity boosts application performance by 50% or more by (1) maximizing the efficiency of every single I/O from write requests that leave the server and (2) caching the most active data from read requests using available server memory.
Thin Provisioned Storage & VM Thin Provisioning
In the storage arena, thin provisioning is a fairly hot topic. Planning ahead for growth using traditional storage provisioning, system admins typically provide themselves with more storage space than is actually needed. This results in substantial inefficiencies as space is allocated, but often not used.
Since this allocated but unused space cannot be used by other applications, many businesses face the need to buy more storage space. As this need for more space grows, so does the cost.
The problem of wasted space, and the cost associated with it, is eliminated by moving to thin provisioned storage. Thin provisioning is essentially the act of using virtualization technology to give the appearance of more physical resources than are actually available.
However, the principle of thin provisioning suffers from some unique drawbacks at both the computational and storage levels.
More data, more storage requirements, more data retrieval and longer retention of data have made the speed and efficiency of regular backups a vital component of corporate IT success.
And yet, the time required for file-based data backup continues to increase while the time allotted for it remains constant. This is a critical issue and becomes more important when it is understood that despite advances in backup technology, backup speeds continue to slow as a direct result of increasingly non-optimized data on the disk.
Data backup involves file access that creates millions of I/Os to reads and write. Each I/O represents a unit of time and a degree of latency. Backup times creep up and quickly exceed their windows. Solutions to handle this, including more hardware, will never be effective if the underlying cause is not eliminated or prevented in the first place.
CPU and memory performance has increased geometrically while storage performance has lagged behind. RAID arrays have improved to help reduce this gap but can suffer from slow performance due to excessive I/O. Slow RAID array performance can bottleneck a whole system slowing your applications.
The Windows OS inherently splits files apart and scatters them around a volume instead of writing them in one place contiguously. When this happens a large number of unnecessary requests are sent to the RAID controller.
This is where V-locity I/O optimization software comes in—by proactively preventing unnecessary I/O at the Windows OS level. Preventing unnecessary I/O not only prevents the degradation in VM and application performance, but improves RAID array performance, keeping it running at peak speeds.
Network Attached Storage & Storage Area Networking
As businesses grow the demands for network storage increase, they follow a natural progression of storage environments. As direct-attached storage (DAS) on their Windows servers becomes insufficient, businesses frequently move on to network attached storage (NAS) or storage area networking (SAN).
The full promise of storage not directly-attached to the server is best fulfilled by implementing a SAN, which has advantages in performance, reliability, availability, and provisioning.
But the overwhelming benefit of SAN storage often gives storage administrators the false impression that by simply implementing a SAN and following the vendor’s instructions, they will achieve the best possible performance and reliability in their Windows Server-based network.
SSD Server Performance
As IT professionals seek to overcome performance bottlenecks at the storage level in pursuit of faster boot times, application load times etc., some are turning to flash memory, otherwise known as solid state drives (SSD) to get higher performance out of their servers.
Solid state drives are generally considered to be faster, more powerful, more efficient and in some respects more reliable than hard drives.
High end SSDs have proven to yield some very impressive read times, well over double a typical SATA hard disk drive.
The problem is that solid state drives start out really fast and then quickly start losing their speed.
Video: Why Fragmentation is Still a Problem with SSDs »
The popular theory is that because there are no moving parts in an SSD, file fragmentation is not an issue. The truth is SSDs experience write speed degradation due to fragmented file write activity and free space fragmentation. HyperFast® solid state drive optimizer, now included standard in Diskeeper®, keeps your system running as fast as when you purchased it, by optimizing the free space on your SSD.
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