Intel's NASty little test tool
The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit provides a battery of real-world tests for your filer and makes them a snap to runFollow @infoworld
What NASPT does is play back traces of typical traffic that SOHO and SMB users might be tossing onto some sort of shared storage. For instance, the 2x HD Playback option mimics someone fast-forwarding (at 2X speed) an HD-quality video. The Office Productivity option represents the tiny little reads and writes produced as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint document editing takes place. A really cool feature is the ability to record a trace from any (32-bit) Windows application to create additional tests.
NASPT has limitations. It runs only on 32-bit Windows XP and only on workstations with Intel CPUs. You must have a drive mounted (i.e., a drive letter); the use of Universal Naming Convention (i.e., \\server\share) is not supported. NASPT is also limited to measuring performance from a single workstation; there's no ability to correlate data gathered across multiple workstations -- at least not yet. NASPT is only five months old.
I'm also pretty excited that the Intel NASPT is a free download. After all, good science demands that results be challenged and experiments be repeated. "Free" means you can repeat my experiments on your own NAS in your own environment. Just use some common sense in when and how you run any sort of performance test. Throwing several gigabytes of test patterns across a production network when the accounting department is trying to post its month-end numbers is not going to make you popular. Instead, either test on an isolated network or do a bit of math first. Add up those file transfer sizes and see if running it on a production network is a reasonable thing to do.
The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit is free, it's easy, and it's reasonable to run. Don't believe those glossy brochures the storage vendors toss at you; it's in your best interest to confirm those numbers. If your findings do match the vendor's, I'll be surprised. Vendors always publish the best results they can get, meaning they were typically created in a lab under ideal conditions.
Read more about storage in InfoWorld's Storage Channel.
Brian Chee is a senior contributing editor to the InfoWorld Test Center and the founder and manager of the Advanced Network Computing Laboratory at the University of Hawai'i School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.