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Hardware Thread, Server Benchmarking Tools in Technical; I'm after recommendations for server benchmarking tools, specifically those appropriate to a SIMS server. We had a representative from Capita ...
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    Server Benchmarking Tools

    I'm after recommendations for server benchmarking tools, specifically those appropriate to a SIMS server.

    We had a representative from Capita visist yesterday and although I had no contact with him he has told the Services Manager that our it "is blatantly obvious to him is that our SIMS server is really struggling". I personally believe that the issue lies elsewhere but as well as being able to justify my reasoning I'd like some proof if possible.

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    What OS is the server running? The Resource Monitor tool built into Server 2008 is pretty good for checking general health and making sure there aren't any obvious bottlenecks. Perfmon is also a good one as you can check general CPU/RAM usage while also monitoring disk usage, queue lengths, etc. which may be particularly relevant on a SIMS server. You can leave perfmon running then check the results over a period of time too.

    Saying "is blatantly obvious to him is that our SIMS server is really struggling" means nothing without some context, and Capita are hardly ones to talk about utilising resources well... I'd push back to them and ask exactly what they're claiming the performance issue is.

    What's the server spec, how big is the SIMS DB and roughly how many users access it?

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    36Degrees (13th June 2013)

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    What spec is your SIMS server? I'm certain a few fellow edugeekers will be able to support to contradict the Capita Chaps claims?

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    Performance Monitor.

    If you've got 2008 R2 it comes with templates.

    Basic Key data would be:
    %CPU Time
    Memory Available Mbytes
    Cache Faults/Sec
    Av Disk Queue Length.

    If SQL Server is on the same box, there will be very little Available Memory, and therefore very little room for file caching, not a problem as long as it's not a fileserver too.

    If you're in need of more resource if
    your cpu is pegged at 50%+
    The available memory is <300Mb
    Cache Faults are pegged high.
    AV Disk Queue Length for the SQL/DocStorage is >(disks/volume)/2


    If things are sluggish, consider your AV. Have you applied the MS guidance (helpfully linked to by Sophos): Recommended vendor exclusions for use with Sophos products (windows)

    I would suggest that (assuming your server is a few years old, and has 4-16Gb of ram) that on a unified SIMS server the SQL instance should be consuming 70-90% of the RAM on the box, with other processes around 20% and "Available" less than 1%

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    36Degrees (13th June 2013)

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    Perfmon is where to start to prove the server is being fully utilised and which part but I think the OP is wanting to know why SIMS is struggling. You could have a supercomputer with only SIMS on but if something is iffy with the install and its stuggling then what? Buy 2 supercomputers?

    I'm with ICTdirect_dave. Some figures by fellow edugeekers would be far more useful than confirming the server is struggling. I'll start.

    6-8gb DB iirc. 1200 students on roll. ~80 staff accessing (not always concurrently). 16gb ram (only half utilised), single quad xeon E5620. CPU utilisation 80-100%. 4 disk RAID 5. DIsk utilisation minimal.

    Not wanting to hijack the thread but I'd also be interested as to how everyone else fairs as at time of commissioning a E5620 was a pretty damn powerful CPU (yes we could have 2 but I'm 99.9999999% certain theres something wrong with our install/DB (random errors and crashes, a lot concerning .NET))
    Last edited by j17sparky; 12th June 2013 at 07:05 PM.

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    80-90% CPU utilisation?! Bonkers. Something is wrong. 3 years ago I still had SIMS running in a Virtual Server 2005 instance on a DL360 G5. It had no performance issues.

    If the performance counters listed above do not show that the system is experiencing load, then it is unlikely to be server capability that is the issue.
    If they do show it is experencing load, then it is time to start drilling down and seeing what is consuming the resources, and then why.

    Benchmarks from others are important and useful to help understand whether the load is 'normal'. But analysis of the box in question is required to get to a root cause.
    Last edited by psydii; 12th June 2013 at 07:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by psydii View Post
    80-90% CPU utilisation?! Bonkers. Something is wrong. 3 years ago I still had SIMS running in a Virtual Server 2005 instance on a DL360 G5. It had no performance issues.
    We had SIMS as a VM. The CPU was a single X33## series which was obviously shared between other VMs. CPU usage was always <50%, averaging in the low teens. We move to a dedicated E5620 and within a few months the CPU usage starts hitting 80%. To me that points to a bad upgrade...

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    Don't forget the latest Sims Spring release has massive performance issues.

    They have released a number of patches to rectify this.

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    Having spoken to the Services Manager it seems the Capita suspicion was based on using Discover on two different machines - a 5yo laptop and a 6yo PC. I believe that this, along with other ageing hardware such as the DCs, is more likely the issue.

    Server is a HP Proliant DL380 G7 with a 2.66GHz E5640 Xeon and 12GB RAM running Server 2008 (not R2). Memory useage is static at 11.3GB, CPU useage is mainly between 1% and 15% hasn't gone above 45%.

    SIMS.mdf is 3.6GB and in theory all teaching and most support staff have access to SIMS, so maximum 115 but more likely maximum 90 concurrently.

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    If its any consalation to you, my SIMS server is about the same SPec as yours running 2008 x64 (not R2) however i have had to bum up the Ram to 28Gb from 12 as i found it was using the storage for Page filing. Since upgrading it is using about 13.5Gb of Ram and the processor is about 43% in use and the database is just under 3Gb.
    Last edited by timbo343; 13th June 2013 at 10:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    6-8gb DB iirc. 1200 students on roll. ~80 staff accessing (not always concurrently). 16gb ram (only half utilised), single quad xeon E5620. CPU utilisation 80-100%. 4 disk RAID 5. DIsk utilisation minimal.

    Not wanting to hijack the thread but I'd also be interested as to how everyone else fairs as at time of commissioning a E5620 was a pretty damn powerful CPU (yes we could have 2 but I'm 99.9999999% certain theres something wrong with our install/DB (random errors and crashes, a lot concerning .NET))
    Just checked. Our DB is ~3GB.

    Anyone else fancy sharing their spec and load to compare?

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    On a box with SQL Server, it is expected that your "Available Memory" is small. This is because SQL grabs as much as it possibly can, squeezing out everything else that is not Active.If you've got an SQL Box which has a lot of 'Free' memory you are over-provisioned, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you have plans to use it soon.

    When you say it was paging - were you experiencing slowdowns, or was it simply paging resources that needed to be on disk anyway? Basically it is not so much the paging out that is a problem, it is paging in stuff that are not generally stored on disk (i.e. transient stuff that really should have remained in RAM), that indicates performance impacting memory pressure.
    Last edited by psydii; 13th June 2013 at 11:09 AM.

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