SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

August 18, 2011 12:51 ET

Slow Response Times: What Is the Cause?

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 18, 2011) - What is the cause of slow response times? There are IT directors and system administrators the world over who have beaten themselves silly over this question. They have upgraded hardware, tweaked and optimized databases and applications, changed processing run times, and performed many other tasks all aimed at improving that performance. Some or all of these changes may have had an effect at speeding up a system -- but if the actual root of the problem is not discovered, it will keep rearing its ugly head no matter how many modifications are made.

It's not surprising that some don't discover and eliminate this problem; it is as old as computer hard drives, and with the many innovations in modern computing it may seem unlikely that this problem still exists. But one look with the proper analysis tool will show anyone that yes, it still exists, and in fact is more potent than ever.

That problem is file fragmentation. File fragmentation is the splitting of files into thousands or tens of thousands of pieces (fragments) for better utilization of disk drive space. For many years, fragmentation has been known as the single most common basic barrier to performance -- and for some reason was better understood in the simpler single-hard-drive scenario of yesteryear.

Today, there are not only multiple drives, but RAID sets, SAN, NAS and, most recently, virtual drives. Because of the advanced technology associated with each of these innovations, IT staff can have the mistaken impression that such a basic issue as fragmentation doesn't affect them.

The truth is quite the opposite -- fragmentation actually has more of an impact system-wide, with peculiarities to each of these technologies, than it did in earlier times. For example, a single read or write I/O in a virtual environment must pass through multiple layers, unlike with physical drives only. Because fragmentation creates heavy additional I/O traffic due to the number of fragments in a file, the number of such I/Os will be far higher. In another example, data viewed from a SAN view may appear neatly arranged. But data is written and read by the OS's file system which, by its very nature, fragments files. When viewed from the logical level of the file system, data is severely fragmented and treated as such.

If in doubt, it is best to download a fragmentation analysis tool and actually take a look at hard drives where, even after the many innovations in computing, data is still stored. You may very well discover the unaddressed truth of your slow response times: fragmentation. After further investigation, you will also discover that the only way to truly handle it is through a fully automatic solution, so the worry never arises again.

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