Real-time disk I/O sightings for real-time savings

Meredith B. Derby, Assistant News Editor

IT managers are always eager to get their hands on specific files' performance numbers. More importantly, they want to know actual response times, transfer rates and IOPs, rather than just overall disk input/output (I/O) activity or benchmark data. Having the ability to see the actual I/O of files on the network helps them improve system performance and increase scalability, and in return, ease storage slowdowns and create a higher ROI. Tom West explained how real-time file monitoring reduces the cost of storage resource management in a recent interview with searchWindowsManageability. West is President of Boulder, CO-based hyperI/O, LLC, makers of a monitoring product called hIOmon. HIOmon version 1.0.1091.0, which will be available this quarter and is currently undergoing external testing, runs on the server versions of Windows NT and Windows2000 and screens disk I/O activity.

searchWindowsManageability: How does hIOmon improve enterprise system performance?

HIOmon is a performance analysis tool that allows users to quickly and easily measure and monitor disk I/O operations at the file level. Users can select the particular files of interest -- with wildcard and exclusion support -- along with the level of detail and with a rich set of performance metrics to choose from. HIOmon records the I/O performance

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of the selected files for either real-time and/or subsequent "replay" display. And hIOmon includes a number of other features, like the ability to display/control hIOmon either locally and/or over the network; automated operation; ability to export the file I/O performance data; and sophisticated alert capability with corresponding System Event Log support for notification support. It can be a great help to system administrators, since hIOmon finally allows them to look at the actual I/O performance of their files. Perhaps the major issue with hIOmon is the "education" factor. Monitoring file I/O performance is not currently a commonplace notion.

searchWindowsManageability: How do users know, then, what is going on in their networks?

A Java-based GUI is included that allows the user to view either locally or remotely over the network the collected performance information in either a detailed (within a customized tabular) format and/or summarized display (for a concise, higher-level survey of the selected file I/O activity). The hIOmon monitoring facilities also support sophisticated alert capabilities to detect a variety of file I/O performance thresholds that the user can specify, with corresponding System Event Log support for notification support.

searchWindowsManageability: What are the benefits of using hIOmon?

Helping reduce storage management costs with automated file I/O monitoring lets customers efficiently focus on their files. HIOmon can help customers, in a more timely and less resource-intensive manner, determine and ensure a more efficient and effective use of storage to meet the I/O performance needs of particular files. This is particularly important given the exploding growth of storage and the current shortage and cost of storage professionals. Prudently approach and adopt emerging storage technologies through the use of empirical, accurate file-specific I/O performance metrics to make better, more-informed decisions.

searchWindowsManageability: What are some other uses of hIOmon?

HIOmon enables consultants and end users to better diagnose and understand storage access performance problems, such as quickly identifying which particular files are being impacted and the exact extent of impact with actual empirical I/O performance metrics. It also allows consultants/clients to easily and quickly validate their suggested improvements with precise empirical file I/O performance metrics using the customers' files as they normally would. HIOmon can directly benefit and be used by end-user customers, too, as a development and support aid and a pre-sales and post-sales demonstration and evaluation tool.

searchWindowsManageability: What products compete with hIOmon and how do their features compare with your product's?

There is the Filemon utility available from Winternals Software. Filemon allows you to view only detailed information about file I/O operation activity. It does not provide hIOmon features, such as a Java-based GUI, a replay display mode, precision time stamps, summarized file I/O performance metrics, and export of the summarized file I/O performance metrics. HIOmon can also provide detailed file I/O operation information like Filemon. There is also File Spy, which is a general-purpose diagnostic tool included in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit Tools from Microsoft. Unlike Filemon, File Spy uses a console command-line interface. Regardless, it is similar to Filemon in terms of providing basically diagnostic, detailed information about file I/O operations. File Spy also lacks all of the features noted above that hIOmon provides.

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