At a minimum, you should be able to use vendor supplied tools from Microsoft, HP, IBM and Sun to monitor disk I/O performance. Also, you should look at third-party add-on tools. In general, look at the amount of I/Os per second to the various disk drives during the boot process, while monitoring performance during normal running operations. Also, take into consideration performance impact during backup and database maintenances for a holistic performance picture.
Keep track of the average number of I/Os per second, the peak and sustained reads and writes and the average I/O sizes to help characterize the workloads of the server. Depending upon the storage system being used, you should be able to get some information about the I/O workload activity. If this is a new install with no baseline or historical data to work from, you have more of a challenge in front of you. If not sure what to do with a new environment, drop me a note, and we can discuss some different options and strategies.
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This was first published in June 2006