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Server performance and benchmark testing guide

Today's servers are expensive, high-performance machines. Maximize their value with high utilization and smooth operation.


Maintaining high server performance and appropriate scale to keep up with growing computing demands doesn't happen automatically. Data center administrators must continuously track performance and make the most of hardware resources. There are ways in which IT professionals can simplify server management at top performance.

Benchmark testing helps administrators monitor server resources, manage utilization, optimize performance and identify problems before they occur. Simple server configuration tweaks can squeeze more performance out of physical and virtual machines (VMs).

This guide covers best practices for benchmark testing with valuable tips from data center experts on how to improve server performance.

1Select the right server-

Serving different data center needs

The data center needs to run applications, which means the right servers for the right workloads need to be in place. Just as important as raw performance data is how different server architectures handle tasks.


Purpose-built vs. general purpose

Data center servers rely on processors to execute code -- either power-sipping reduced instruction set computing processors built only to handle specific tasks, or highly intelligent complex instruction set computing chips for various scenarios. Continue Reading


Mainframe pronounced relevant again

The ubiquitous and pervasive computing age means new compute requirements. The Web helped scale-out servers chase away mainframes, but complex applications are bringing big iron back. Continue Reading


FPGA servers touted as flexible hosting machines

With a paired approach of central processing unit and programmable silicon to offload specific tasks, field-programmable gate array servers may take over a portion of future data centers. Continue Reading


Intel scale-up servers' future

The Intel E7 v3 is designed to handle scale-up applications, including many business intelligence workloads that require data crunching. Will the new business intelligence features conquer scale-up workloads? Continue Reading


AMD plans data center takeover with x86 chips

AMD's roadmap drives straight to the heart of the data center, with a complete processor architecture built around software-defined data center operations. Continue Reading


The four B's of server performance

How can you master benchmark testing when you don't know what that means? Check out these terms to help you improve server performance.

3In the toolbox-

Benchmark testing tool choices

Benchmark testing establishes baseline performance expectations, tracks system performance over time, plans virtualization capacity and manages server resources and performance. Benchmarks identify potential performance problems and future capacity needs.


Make needs-based decisions around benchmarks

Most server benchmarking tools address basic tasks, but choosing the best one can be confusing. Decide which option works best with your organization's hardware, and if it provides the right level of technical detail. Continue Reading


Pick a server monitoring tool worthy of your data center

Server monitoring tools track utilization and bottleneck-causing issues within your environment. Some are better for physical hardware metrics, others read virtualization metrics better, and some fall in the middle. How do you choose which is best? Continue Reading


Ensure adequate virtualization capacity

Virtualization deployments take time and a firm understanding of how business goals align with hardware resources. By using and evaluating benchmark tests, data center admins can plan their infrastructures before resources become depleted. Continue Reading


Kick the tires on cloud servers too

Even though you aren't buying the hardware and racking it up in your facility, cloud servers are just as important to select and tune for optimal performance. Continue Reading


An example of server chassis benchmarks

This comparison of two vendors' server architectures -- Cisco UCS and IBM/Lenovo Flex System -- shows that the networking scheme for servers can greatly influence how a workload performs. Continue Reading

4Get useful benchmarks-

Benchmark testing strategies, best practices

When conducted properly and consistently, good benchmark testing can provide valuable information that admins can use to improve server performance.


Benchmark tests for a specific workload

Many software vendors have already done the heavy lifting for you when it comes to benchmarking servers. Even if they haven't, there are other ways to get a good server benchmark before you buy. Continue Reading


Skip the mistakes

Benchmark results are helpful when administrators follow best practices to collect relevant information. Looking at the wrong metrics in the wrong places makes benchmark testing inadequate or even counterproductive. Continue Reading


Five benchmarking guidelines

Accurate, repeatable benchmarking tests await data center pros who follow guidelines such as testing at different times in the day and ensuring real load conditions. To improve benchmarking, follow these five strategies. Continue Reading


Integrate performance troubleshooting

Data center administrators can't keep an eye on server performance 24/7, but they should have systems that alert on potential problems. Monitoring tools help identify and track issues, even when you aren't in the facility. Continue Reading


Fit benchmarks into a larger standard of performance

Server benchmark testing is one piece of an overall plan to ensure the data center performs well for the business. This checklist of key performance indicators helps tailor your operations along with business priorities over time. Continue Reading

5A well-oiled machine-

Optimize server performance

Fine-tuning server configurations and eliminating bottlenecks can lead to substantial performance gains with minimal expense. Ensuring that systems are set up correctly is especially important with virtualized infrastructures. Performance options sometimes come with trade-offs, such as cooling problems or increased energy consumption.


Tune servers for virtualization success

Choosing and tuning the right hardware is the backbone of successful virtualization deployments. For example, configuration changes on one VM may degrade performance on an unrelated VM that shares a physical host. Continue Reading


Perfect benchmarks, but poor performance?

Servers are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to application performance. Look into load balancing and application delivery controllers to optimize workloads. Continue Reading


Tweak BIOS settings, improve system performance

By adjusting BIOS settings, administrators can ensure their servers are running at peak performance. Optimize these settings for significant gains in computing power, but be aware that changing some BIOS settings could compromise system stability or augment overheating problems. Continue Reading


Adjust the BIOS for energy-efficient operation

BIOS changes can also save money without sacrificing server performance. Fan settings greatly contribute to power use. Continue Reading

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