New file system capacity tool – Microsoft’s FSCT

Filing System by BinaryApe (cc) (from Flickr)

Filing System by BinaryApe (cc) (from Flickr)

Jose Barreto blogged about a recent report Microsoft did on File Server Capacity Tool (FSCT) results (blog here, report here).  As you may know FSCT is a free tool released in September of 2009, available from Microsoft that verifies a SMB (CIFS) and/or SMB2 storage server configuration.

The FSCT can be used by anyone to verify that a SMB/SMB2 file server configuration can adequately support a particular number of users, doing typical Microsoft Office/Window’s Explorer work with home folders.

Jetstress for SMB file systems?

FSCT reminds me a little of Microsoft’s Jetstress tool used in the Exchange Solution Review Program (ESRP) which I have discussed extensively in prior blog posts (search my blog) and other reports (search my website).  Essentially, FSCT has a simulated “home folder” workload which can be dialed up or down by the number of users selected.  As such, it can be used to validate any NAS system which supports SMB/SMB2 or CIFS protocol.

Both Jetstress and FSCT are capacity verification tools.  However, I look at all such tools as a way of measuring system performance for a solution environment and FSCT is no exception.

Microsoft FSCT results

In Jose’s post on the report he discusses performance for five different storage server configurations running anywhere from 4500 to 23,000 active home directory users, employing white box servers running Windows (Storage) Server 2008 and 2008 R2 with various server hardware and SAS disk configurations.

Network throughput ranged from 114 to 650 MB/sec. Certainly respectable numbers and somewhat orthogonal to the NFS and CIFS throughput operations/second reported by SPECsfs2008.  Unclear if FSCT reports activity in an operations/second.

Microsoft ‘s FSCT reports did not specifically state what the throughput was other than at the scenario level.  I assume Network throughput that Jose reported was extracted concurrently with the test run from something akin to Perfmon.  FSCT seems to only report performance or throughput as the number of home folder scenarios sustainable per second and the number of users.  Perhaps there is an easy way to convert user scenarios to network throughput?

While the results for the file server runs looks interesting, I always want more. For whatever reason, I have lately become enamored with ESRPs log playback results (see my latest ESRP blog post) and it’s not clear whether FSCT reports anything similar to this.  Something like file server simulated backup performance would suffice from my perspective.

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Despite that, another performance tool is always of interest and I am sure my readers will want to take a look as well.  The current FSCT tester can be downloaded here.

Not sure whether Microsoft will be posting vendor results for FSCT similar to what they do for Jetstress via ESRP but that would be a great next step.  Getting the vendors onboard is another problem entirely.  SPECsfs2008 took almost a year to get the first 12 (NFS) submissions and today, almost 9 months later there are still only ~40 NFS and ~20 CIFS submissions.

Comments?

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