IOPS Calculation: Optimize Your Database Usage

July 11, 2022

IOPS Calculation: Optimize Your Database Usage


Simply purchasing database resources — whether using a hard disk in your own data center or a provisioned volume in the cloud — isn’t enough if you want optimized performance. To make sure your company’s database is functioning up to its potential and validating your investment, you should look into calculating and optimizing its various storage performance metrics.


While your company may be one of the many that lack enough in-house IT personnel to look after every aspect of database performance, that doesn’t mean you have to overlook these issues. Instead, you can work with a managed service provider to get the most out of your database.


One of the measures worth considering is IOPS, meaning input/output per second. This metric determines how much information in a database is being written and read per second. Through accurate IOPS calculation, you can make sure you’re leveraging your resources to the proper level, neither over- nor underusing the system.


How does IOPS calculation work?

IOPS is one of two related database metrics, with the other being throughput. As clearly laid out in Amazon Web Services’ guide to resource utilization, IOPS is the total amount of reads and writes per second a company’s users are performing. Throughput is also a measure of reads and writes per second, but it is measured in bytes, rather than the number of read and write operations.


As AWS noted, IOPS and throughput performance may vary over time, so companies should measure their IOPS at peak times and during normal usage. Determining what speeds a business’s users are responsible for during different scenarios, as well as average throughput and IOPS workload, provides a data point to consider when tuning for maximum performance.


How do you measure your IOPS metrics?

The process of measuring IOPS performance is typically carried out with a network tool that tracks metrics such as read time, seek time and overall drive speed, as TechTarget explained. One of the more common tech tools for IOPS measurement is Intel’s Iometer — though this solution is from the era of the physical disk hard drive and has become outdated in recent years.


Using a specialized tech tool for IOPS calculation is a useful practice because it can compensate for some of the factors that affect IOPS value readings, such as the type of workload being used to benchmark the system’s performance. Such tech solutions are used to measure both IOPS and throughput.


Oracle goes into greater detail about how IOPS calculation and calibration work for Oracle database resources. The tool uses a series of small reads the size of one database block (generally 8kb) to determine the maximum IOPS of a given database. Next, the tool issues random 1MB reads, which measure database throughput, expressed in MBPS.


Of course, since these processes require issuing heavy requests to a database, the Oracle database team recommends calibrating IOPS during off-hours, rather than when anyone is making regular database requests.


IOPS calculation and throughput measurement are specialized processes associated with database performance optimization, meaning they fit under the umbrella of services provided by third-party database consultants. To free up more time for your in-house IT personnel, or if you’re running an agile organization without a dedicated IT team, you can turn these functions over to database service providers.


How can you maximize your database cost with IOPS calculation?

Calculating IOPS and throughput can help your organization ensure it is getting maximum performance from database resources. In today’s era of cloud resource provisioning, there is a great deal of freedom regarding database usage. When companies can scale up or down, right-sizing network resource usage is a key budget and performance consideration


A sign of effective database calibration is when an organization has provisioned the correct amount of resources for its needs, no more and no less. In the era when on-premise data centers were the predominant mode of database usage, this could have involved hardware purchases and upgrades. In a cloud-based world, the calculations are simpler.


As AWS pointed out, there are pitfalls associated with both under- and overprovisioning database capabilities. If an organization has purchased more database resources than its total IOPS requirements, the extra power is going to waste. In cases when the business hasn’t purchased sufficient cloud resources, performance may suffer as users try to perform too many operations.


This level of cloud service oversight is another area where consultants can help. Ensuring an organization has a cloud deployment that perfectly suits its database needs and makes the most of its available budget is a useful role for third-party experts. The long-term budgetary and performance effects of right-sized cloud database resources can pay dividends over time.


How do professional database services help?

No matter what type of database service an organization uses — AWS, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server or any other offering — getting the maximum storage performance from the resources in question should be a major area of focus. Modernizing databases often means going into the cloud, but unless companies keep up with optimizing their new cloud deployments, they may not realize maximum return on investment.


IOPS calculation is one of the many steps that database experts can perform on behalf of a company with a cloud database deployment. Performing database tuning may reveal that a business has provisioned the wrong amount of resources to meet its required IOPS capacity and throughput needs, or one of a variety of other issues. For instance, the experts may detect configuration issues, database design problems and driver misconfiguration, among other concerns.


The key value-add provided by database service professionals is that this specialized work does not have to be carried out by the organization’s own personnel. This saves time and effort, and lets a company’s team focus on its core business objectives. In an era when easy-to-use cloud systems are enabling organizations to thrive with very small in-house teams, external database experts can keep payroll down while not letting performance suffer.


Whether your organization needs a one-off database configuration or a more long-term managed services approach to support and oversight, there’s no wrong time to start investigating solutions for your unique issues. Speak with a Solvaria expert today to find your ideal database approach.


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