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I/O limit statistics for various virtualization platforms

Need help finding benchmark statistics for I/O in your virtualized environment? Eric Siebert offers some suggestions in this expert response.

Are there any concrete stats or benchmarks to say what high I/O is in terms of Exchange and SQL? What about stats that show the upper limits of I/O for various virtualization platforms, like VMware ESX, Microsoft Virtual Server and Xen products?
There is a VMware whitepaper from Dell that talks about performance of Exchange as a virtual machine as compared to a physical server. This will get you pretty close to what you are looking for from a performance perspective, but as to what is high I/O? It's a relative term to me.

When looking at a disk some folks may think a server with 100 or 200 I/O per second is high. Talk to an EMC rep about DMX storage and they laugh at 200 I/O per second for an individual server. Then again, if you are running an MSA 500 as the backend for a virtual machine platform several 200 I/O per second virtual machines will start to show a performance hit. Again it's still relative, the hypervisor is only going to show limited overhead, but the hardware underneath has to handle it.

As to a comparison between the platforms, I am not aware of any outside bodies doing independent testing of the hypervisors, but there is a constant battle between the companies about who performs better, each with their own numbers. I'd say your best bet is to get a trial of any you are looking at, and pound it yourself.

This was last published in August 2007

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