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Storage Switzerland white paper: Defining and optimizing workloads

By Len Rosenthal, CMO

When you’re evaluating your IT infrastructure – whether it’s physical, virtual, the cloud or a combination of the three – one important concept always comes up: workload analysis. Workload analysis is such a basic part of what we all care about that we often just glaze over the topic and assume everyone is 100 percent clear on what it means.

For something at the very crux of what infrastructure performance analytics (IPA) helps organizations improve, it’s important to know exactly what we mean when we talk about workload profile. This is the topic of a recent white paper that George Crump, lead analyst for Storage Switzerland, did with us.  The white paper goes into great detail about just what workloads are, and why they’re important.

What are workloads?

As the white paper describes, at the most basic, a workload is “a set of input/output (I/O) characteristics running through a group of virtual machines that interface with network and storage infrastructures.” An application, for example, might interact with other application servers, a database server (or several database servers) and a web server. The I/O traffic that traverses all of these servers, switches and their associated networked storage is that application’s workload. Workloads can be captured and analyzed to help IT managers understand how they impact performance.

As you would expect, workloads have different characteristics (read/write mix, random/sequential ratio, data/metadata mix, data efficiency, etc.) that impact how their associated applications perform in a given environment. As applications, technology and even business needs change, workloads change with them. These changes can severely alter the performance of your IT infrastructure, making understanding and analyzing workload behavior an essential part of storage management and deployment strategies.

Why are workloads important?

Now that we’ve offered our definition of workloads, we can focus on how to learn EXACTLY what your workloads are doing, what resources they’re taking up, when they may reach a breaking point, and how you can optimize them. To answer these questions in more detail, check out Storage Switzerland’s take. It highlights some of the most important workload aspects, including the following:

  • How they change over time
  • Why it’s important to know as much as possible about them
  • How to use this knowledge to better your IT infrastructure

Want more details? Download the white paper here (no form necessary).