Not All IOPS are Created Equal

Learn more about this enterprise storage solution

When you need storage to save your Microsoft Word documents, organize your music collection, categorize your vacation selfies or just keep the funny email attachment that Rich from Accounting sent, you typically only care about sheer capacity. What if I told you there’s more than one capacity number to worry about when designing enterprise storage solutions?

We all know about Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes and Petabytes, but what about IOPS?

Understanding IOPS

If bytes is the unit of measure we use to define the physical capacity of a storage device (hard drive, USB drive or shared storage array), IOPS is the unit of measure used to define that storage’s ability to do work. IOPS is an acronym which stands for Input/Output Operations Per Second, loosely, this means the number of requests a storage device can accommodate. The more IOPS a drive can perform, the better overall performance you can expect to receive from that drive.

Let’s talk about hard drives

In the computer world, hard drives come in two basic varieties, mechanical drives (spinning disk) or Solid State Drives (SSD or chip-based storage). Mechanical drives are limited in the number of IOPS they can perform by how fast the platter spins and how long it takes the head to seek to the location to read/write the data.

The best way to improve the performance of a single mechanical drive is to increase the speed at which the platter spins (measures in RPMs). The most common drive speeds found in mechanical drives are 7,200, 10,000 and 15,000 RPM. As a general rule of thumb, the expected performance of a mechanical drive is 75-100, 125-150 and 175-210 RPM, respectively.

SSD’s are not held to such limitations as there are no moving parts. The average expected IOPS of SSD’s range from the thousands to the millions of IOPS per drive. However, SSD’s are relatively smaller in capacity versus mechanical drives and come at a significantly higher price. Implementing SSD in large quantities usually ends up being cost prohibitive.

The typical office computer has a single 7,200 RPM mechanical drive. For a single user performing day-to-day tasks, the roughly 100 IOPS that drive produces is more than enough to meet their needs with no impact to performance. However, if you start increasing the number of users trying to access the data on that disk at the same time, performance begins to suffer. There is not enough potential in that disk to deliver simultaneous IOPS in a timely manner and requests are delayed and the end-users have to wait longer for their operations to complete.

That brings me to shared storage arrays

Storage arrays are collections of multiple drives pooled together to increase the physical capacity as well as the overall IOPS of the disk group. This is where storage architecture begins to play a role in your operations infrastructure.

Working at, it’s often our job to design solutions that meet both the physical capacity requirements as well as the performance capacity too.  The challenge is designing the best solution in a way that also makes budgetary sense for our customers while fulfilling their unique needs and leaving them room for growth.

Feel free to read more about the impressive Network and let me know if you have any questions!

2014-08-13T09:30:54+00:00 August 13th, 2014|

One Comment

  1. Matt Kinder August 13, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Great work on this! MK

Leave A Comment