How to Implement I/O Management in Your Data Center

Monitoring and managing the flow of I/O as it travels through systems is becoming increasingly important due to the growth in size and complexity of data centers. I/O management allows data center managers to better utilize existing infrastructure, avoid the need to purchase new infrastructure and proactively manage performance by making adjustments prior to a performance issue. Here, Knowledge Center contributor John Waszak explains how to implement I/O management in your data center.


Managing application performance and availability is difficult. Today's data centers are growing in both size and complexity, particularly because of increased layers of virtualization.

As a result, there is a tremendous amount of infrastructure between the application users and the storage devices that hold the data. Every piece of the infrastructure must operate efficiently to maintain high performance and availability. Conversely, any bottlenecks within the infrastructure can quickly degrade the user experience and business effectiveness.

While management of this infrastructure has typically been focused on the physical components of the data center (that is, workstations, servers, networks and storage devices), monitoring and managing the I/O as it travels through the system of servers, networks and storage arrays is a highly critical component to ensuring overall application performance.

Additionally, monitoring infrastructure cost is just as challenging as managing performance. In some cases, costs and performance are intertwined, with expenditures on infrastructure increased in an attempt to address any performance concerns proactively. As such, it is becoming more important to understand the costs of this infrastructure and effectively manage its utilization.

Utilization is defined as the act of ensuring the business is getting the most out of its infrastructure. With the costs of a storage area network (SAN) connection in the tens of thousands of dollars, it becomes imperative to manage I/O infrastructure to provide the highest degree of utilization while simultaneously guaranteeing performance and a commitment to service-level agreements (SLAs).

All of these points taken together bring a tremendous amount of complexity to the data center environment, causing data center administrators to ask, "How am I going to manage all of this?" The answer: through implementing I/O management.