How you can benefit from VM performance benchmarking

Using benchmarks gives the user a head start in troubleshooting if VM performance begins to falter. But how can benchmarking help with resources, hardware decisions and virtual workloads?

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When a virtual machine is running at a high performance, that's the ideal situation for the user. But it doesn't always stay that way. Whether it is a migration, a virtual disaster or something else, virtual machine (VM) performance can suffer. If you record a benchmark when the VM's performance level is high, you have data to look at as a guide when the performance level changes or drops.

Here are five burning questions about performance benchmarking.

How important are benchmarks in performance monitoring?

You're able to tell when something is wrong because you know when it's right. The same goes for performance monitoring. IT professionals use benchmarking tools to help establish when a VM is operating in the proper manner. This way, you can determine when performance is lacking or slowing down.

How can performance benchmarking help you determine the resource requirements of a VM?

Determining the right amount of resources for a VM can be a perplexing task. It's important that users don't short change resources. On the other end, it's equally important not to allocate more than necessary. This is where benchmarking can help. Running a benchmark on a physical server that is running properly helps tell the right amount of resources you need to give to a virtual server.

How does VMmark play in hardware decision making?

Traditional benchmarks measure a single workload but can't measure performance across multiple VMs. But, VMware's VMmark is benchmarking software that tracks VM performance. With the results that it produces, companies can make better hardware decisions -- like deciding between blades and rackmount servers.

How can benchmarking improve VM performance?

Physical workloads often have a slight advantage over virtualized workloads when it comes to performance because of the hypervisor's overhead. But there's a way to minimize that small gap through benchmarking. Using benchmarking on the physical workload before the migration can lay down a marker that makes it easy to get back the best possible performance.

How can you balance your virtual workload with benchmarks?

There is a lot that goes into making the switch from physical to virtual. If you use benchmarks with your physical workload, those baselines can be a starting point when you make the transition to virtualized workloads. Then, make sure you have the right tools to balance your workloads to bring performance closer to your benchmarks.

This was first published in June 2014

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