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Network performance test

Posted on 2007-10-11
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Hello Experts Exchange,

I'm the default IT tech in our company and I would like to know how to measure our network's performance and how to improve it. We expect to install a new file server that may heavily tax our network and we would like to be ready. Our network consists of one subnet with about 100 workstations,10/100 Ethernet cabling and six major IBM X series servers with Gigabit NIC's that includes an Exchange server, AD domain controller Windows 2003, ERP server, file server Windows 2003 and a couple of test servers. Our network switches are 3COM SuperStack 3 3C16475 and we have all of the servers on a 3COM Baseline Switch 2808 (Gigabit)

Again, I would like to know how to measure your current network performance and possibly how to improve it. Right now I'm looking into the built-in Windows tools to see how they work. Thanks in advance your recommendations and your knowledge.
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Question by:vzhukov
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by:bkellyboulderit
bkellyboulderit earned 150 total points
ID: 20061630
I forget the name of the software. Ack.

1 - Add another Domain Controller. Don't just have one.
2 - It's kind of hard to saturate a gig link to your servers since your users are on 10/100. However, if that were the case, you could do network adapter teaming into a better switch for throughput. I doubt it at 100 users.

Besides, your bottleneck is having all those servers in one little switch, with only one uplink. Get a better switch and cascade the 10/100's into it. My guess is you may be daisychaining and not hub and spoke.

EX - GIG SWITCH (with all the servs in it)
         |              |
10/100SW      10/100SW


not

EX - GIG SWITCH (with all the servs in it)
         |                  
10/100SW
         |
10/100SW
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by:tvman_od
ID: 20061914
1. Agreed with bkellyboulderit, it's hard to saturate GB uplink in your situation.
2. Windows doesn't built-in tools to test network as Network, not just performance of the local network adaptor.
3. Look at performance of all other components of the system, don't blame the network if you have poor performance of the whole system. Very often disk subsystem is much slover then network. Let's say SCSI disk can give you with random access about 150Mbps, so it's just 15% of 1Gbps of available bandwitdth. I did lots of profiling for our users and NEVER seen the situation when network, built using professional equipment, caused poor performance. Disks, SCSI adaptors,memory, CPU overheating, weak alhoritms for applications - just a short list of problems.
4. You can run 20 servers for 100 users on a single 100Mbps switch without any issues.
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by:bkellyboulderit
ID: 20062179
PS> The biggest performance hit will be from the users perspective. Anymore, 10/100 is getting pretty old. If they're all standard "MS Office" users, then your fine. However, they will notice that copying really big files to any of the servers will be somewhat slow. When I say big, you're files need to be over 12MB. I say that because the realized throughput of 10/100 is only about 12MB/sec. So small files like excel will not be noticed. Big files like photoshop will be noticed. Mainly because they'll actually see the delay in copying/saving.

So, if possible get the whole network to a gig if they're big file users.

tvman is also correct about hardware. You'd have to sustain throughput of about 120MB on your IO to match gig ratings. That's tough even on SAS RAID.
Also, latency is important in perception. Get your file server with the fastest disks you can afford, preferably 15K SAS drives, esp. if you do RAID 5.
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ajcaruso00 earned 300 total points
ID: 20062809
I agree with most of the above.  It should be a problem, if you can afford it, get a Gig switch.

A simple tool for getting a snapshot of network performance is iperf.  Put a copy on your desktop and a copy on the server.  On the server:

iperf -s

then from your workstation:

iperf -c <ip of server>

This will give you an idea of what the current saturation looks like.  iperf is available at http://dast.nlanr.net/Projects/Iperf/

Also, for real fun, get a sniffer like wireshark.  Look for retransmissions.

For long term charting, a tool such as MRTG, will graph the history of the "counters" in the switch.

Good luck.  -T
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by:bkellyboulderit
ID: 20064972
Thanks for helping me remember, too. I kept thinking it was called MRT.... I forgot it was MRTG. I used it awhile ago, and it works well....
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by:ajcaruso00
ID: 20067064
oops, sorry for the typo - I meant to say "It shouldn't be a problem, but if you can afford it, get a Gig switch." -T
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by:Beachdude67
Beachdude67 earned 300 total points
ID: 20069411
If you are using 3com switches you should be able to use the Network Manager software with the switch to monitor bandwidth speeds. In any case, it's probably easier to monitor bandwidth from the switch than from anywhere.
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Author Comment

by:vzhukov
ID: 20069517
Thank you all for your responses to my question.

I will try Beachdude67's and ajcaruso00 recommendations.
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