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How Do I Boost Response Time?

Simply adding storage capacity is rarely a successful solution for disk response time issues. Most often, response time problems are caused by volume configuration issues and lack of bandwidth. However, in some cases, adding additional disks can improve response time due to the additional spindle count.

To fully address response time issues, the storage administrator must work with server and application administrators to fully assess the situation. The first goal should be to quantify the issue, and the most logical first step is to leverage server-based disk performance monitoring tools to determine the current state baseline for response time metrics.

Next, the storage administrator should test the capabilities of the current infrastructure. By doing this, the administrator can pinpoint the cause of problems -- or opportunities for improvement. Response time issues can originate at any point in the data path, and storage isn't always the bottleneck. However, intelligent storage arrays can provide a significant opportunity for response time improvement.

Once a full situation assessment is complete and the storage infrastructure is determined to be the target of improvement opportunities, there are several areas that should be explored:

  • Data transfer -- switches, cables, adapters, and ports
  • Storage array cache
  • RAID configuration
  • Spindle count

Data transfer mechanisms can offer significant opportunities or problems for disk response time. The HBA cards, connective cables, switches, and storage ports are the gateways for data movement and SCSI command completions.

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