Troubleshooting/Benchmarking SBS 2011

Posted on 2014-09-03
Last Modified: 2014-09-19
Hi I have been having some issues with installing and configuring SBS 2011 on a Fujitsu TX100 S3p server using RAID 1 with 2 x 500GB Harddrives.

It turns out there is something wrong with the drives and Fujitsu support are replacing those, but i have 2 x spare drives 1TB each from another Fuji server and i wanted to ask what the best benchmark utility would be to test the system with?

seeing as i have had problems with the discs that would be a major part of the test suite for me.

The 1TB Drives are working ok but i just want some clarity on how the system should be performing compared with other rollouts of similar spec.
Question by:firstnetsupport
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Expert Comment

by:Larry Struckmeyer MVP
ID: 40302547

SBS is most dependent on RAM, then Disk I/o, then CPU.  You should have at least 16 GB RAM and 24 is better, 32 is best, since that is all the this version of Windows will address.  For disks, SSD is fastest, 15K RPM SAS is next, 10K SAS is next and SATA is a poor 4th.  For RAID.. raid on the controller is better than software raid, a discrete controller is better than the pseudo controllers built into some motherboards.

500 and 1 TB imply SATA, which will give you the slowest performance.
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Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 40302662
Based on my experience RAID 1 and SATA are anathema. Meaning they don't belong in a server anymore especially an SBS 2011 Standard server.

Depending on the number of users 16GB-24GB of RAM is a good start.

4 SAS spindles would be RAID 5 via hardware RAID, 1GB flash or battery backed cache.
6-8 SAS spindles would be RAID 6 via hardware RAID, 1GB flash or battery backed cache.

One of our blog posts explaining why we don't do SATA in servers with links to Microsoft's statement that SATA does not belong in servers (finally!): (MPECS Inc. Blog: Repeat After Me: SATA Does Not Belong In Servers Part Deux)

Author Comment

ID: 40302919
I agree with your comments, but my question relates to testing performance of the system as it stands can you recommend how to best test the system?
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Expert Comment

by:Larry Struckmeyer MVP
ID: 40303110
Start performance testing with Task Manager -> Performance then Resource Monitor.  That will tell you a lot.  If you want more info you can use Performance Monitor also free from MS.

As far as third party suites, I have never used one because, imo, they aren't necessary.  Phillip and I have given you the criteria, and the tools above will show you what is going on with your server.
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Accepted Solution

Philip Elder earned 500 total points
ID: 40303491
To answer your question directly: IOmeter or SQLIO can be used to stress test the disk subsystem.

And, BurnInTest Pro would be a good utility to stress the entire system.

RAID 1 will give dismal performance and won't be appropriate for an organization over 5-7 users. I don't see the point. There are lots of references out there for throughput (MB/Second) or IOPS (I/Os per Second) for a single SATA or SAS disk. RAID 1 would be around that with a hit for the writes.

The most demanding service on the disk subsystem will be Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS). When snapshots and/or backups happen (don't schedule them at the same time or data corruption can happen) the disk subsystem will get overwhelmed with the needed I/Os. Users _will_ complain. BTDT.

Expert Comment

by:Ratnesh Mishra
ID: 40304159
I agree to Philip, there is no single tool which can give you performance bench-marking for entire system.
There are tools which comes as collection of various other simulation tools which may help you. such as dacapo , or Login VSI . I had personally used both of them and found quite effective. Since Login VSI is not a free tool however you may download it for testing purpose.
Dacapo is a free tool work on Java and it provides you information based on the response time.

IOMeter and SQL IO stress test , jetstress testing tool and many more are used for bench-marking the disk IO response time which is quite crucial in exchange , sql  and many other activity.
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Expert Comment

by:Larry Struckmeyer MVP
ID: 40304301
Not disagreeing with any of the suggestions or tools, but pointing out that we are dealing here with Small Business Server with a MAX of 75 users.  Stress testing Exchange for what is more likely to be 5-50 users won't tell us very much except maybe we might have spent more on the storage sub-system, but how many are going to replace controller and drives to achieve a .001 second speed increase in the delivery of email?

Yes, SATA drives are, at best, sluggish from the console and if loading large files over the network or hitting it with 100s of SQL transactions per minute would not be satisfactory.  But for the average small business network it will take about 1 second longer to load a word document over the LAN than with SAS or SSD drives.  But if you have hundreds of SQL transactions per minute one should have, and probably would have, researched the storage sub system ahead of time.

I think the whole exercise is futile.  If things are slow.. first make sure you have RAM, then limit the amount used by Exchange and SQL (search or start a new thread if you don't know how), then use the built in MS tools, then replace the drives or the controller or both.

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