Aside – That old spindle problem
Posted by Preston on 2009-07-20
When I used to be a system administrator, back when 2GB hard drives were the norm, I remember an Oracle system that only needed about 4GB of storage space, but our Oracle savvy system administrator configured an environment with around 30 x 2GB drives.
That was my first introduction to spindles and their relationship to performance.
As the years have gone by, and drive capacities have increased, the spindle problem only briefly appeared to go away – not due to capacity, but due to increasing rotational speed and other improved performance characteristics of drives.
However, perhaps even more so than high performance databases, virtualisation is forcing system administrators to become reacquainted with spindle configuration issues; multi-core systems supporting dozens of virtualised servers create IO problems even within relatively small environments.
If you’re interested in reading more about spindle issues, you may want to check out this article on Search Storage – Get More IOPS per dollar with SSD, 2.5″ Drives. Regardless of the actual vendors discussed, this article is a good overview of the spindle problem. If you’re struggling with virtualised (or even database) IO performance, and were not previously aware of spindle issues, check it out for an introduction. (As practically all storage vendors are moving into high performance options involving either SSDs and/or massive numbers of 2.5″ drives, the article is relevant regardless of your preferred storage platform.)
(If you’re looking for a backup angle to this posting, consider the following: as you virtualise and or put in applications/systems with increasingly higher demands for IOPS, you affect not only primary production operations, but also protection, maintenance and management functions, including (but not limited to) backups. Sometimes performance issues that exist, but are not yet plaguing production operations, manifest first in backup situations where there are high intensity prolonged sequential reads.)
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