The performance of primary storage is more likely to affect the performance of your applications than the network, server CPUs, or the size and speed of server memory. That's because storage tends to be the biggest performance bottleneck, especially for applications that rely heavily on a large databases.
That makes testing crucial. Before you buy, you need to know how well your applications perform on the specific storage hardware you're eyeing. As I noted last week, most vendors will provide a loaner for you to test-drive.
Unfortunately, testing storage is not always a straightforward process. It requires a solid understanding of how your applications use storage and how the storage device you're evaluating functions under the hood. Each situation is different; no single test or benchmark can give everyone the answer they're looking for, but you can take some basic evaluative steps to ensure your storage is up to the task.
Knowing what to test
The tests you run on your prospective storage hardware will largely depend upon what you're doing with it. Someone in search of storage for a video editing suite, for example, will have drastically different storage needs than someone who runs a large enterprise database. These tests fall into two familiar categories: throughput and random seek.