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Configuring NDMP performance options

NDMP Performance options are set using the Add Rule or Modify Rule page of the NAS Manager. On these pages, you can set the number of additional server connections and the number of read-ahead processes (which are the options with the biggest effects on replication performance), as well as other replication options.

NoteThe readahead_procs setting of the ndmp-option command is no longer used for replications.

The number of additional server connections and the number of read-ahead processes should be coordinated to get the best performance. Each additional connection causes the creation of a separate process at the source and one at the destination, and these processes are connected by their own separate TCP connection. These two processes work together as an independent replication stream which can process subdirectories in parallel with other replication processes. Read-ahead processes are used only at the replication source; these processes pre-read directory entries and file details from the storage media (typically disks) so that the main replication processes can use them immediately without being delayed by disk read latencies.

Although allocating more processes to a replication can improve its performance, the extra processes take up system resources. Using these resources for replication operations may negatively impact the performance of other processes for protocols (such as NFS or SMB), features, or even other replications. Also, the performance improvement per additional process reduces as the number of processes increases, and at some point there will be no further improvement (there may be a reduction in performance if too many processes are used). With these points in mind, you should not request a very high number of processes, except in very special cases.

The optimal settings for these values depend on many factors, including:

  • File system size and layout of files. Typically, to get best performance when replicating file systems with smaller files and fewer files per directory, you should dedicate more read-ahead processes and connections to the replication.
  • The number of replications that will run simultaneously. When running many replications simultaneously, each replication should be allocated fewer read-ahead processes so that the overall load from replication processes is not too high.
  • The relative priority of the replication and other uses of the system (such as NFS and SMB access). If replications appear to be adversely affecting the performance of system functions or user access, then reducing the number of read-ahead processes and connections used by replications should alleviate the problem.
  • The number of physical disks containing data for the file system (which can be found by looking at the number of physical disks in the system drives used by the file system). If the data of the file systems being replicated is stored on relatively few physical disks, then increasing the number of connections (data streams) used in the replication operation will not improve performance. Refer to the Storage Subsystem Administration Guide for information on system drives.
  • The properties of the network route between the source and destination machines. When the connection between source and destination machines has high bandwidth available, long latency connections (high speed cross-continental or intercontinental links), then the long latency may impose an artificially low data rate over a single TCP connection. Using parallel connections (data streams) for the replication operation can improve performance in this case.

The following notes give more specific indications of how to choose settings. However, because of the many factors involved these recommendations may not be absolutely optimal. If it is vital to get the very highest performance from your system, some experimentation will be needed to find the most suitable values for the installation.

  • The default settings are 4 additional connections and 12 read-ahead processes. These settings should be adequate for a wide range of applications, including files systems with mixed small and medium size files (average file size 250 KB), up to file systems containing very large files. Also, these settings are appropriate for file systems with data on a relatively small number of physical disks (such as 32). A single replication operation with these settings should not severely impact other system users.
  • If many replication operations are running simultaneously, you may want to reduce the number of read-ahead processes and connections each replication uses.

    For example, if you are running eight simultaneous replications, the settings might be one additional connection and six read-ahead processes.

  • Where the files in the file systems being replicated are mostly small, increasing the number of connections and read-ahead processes used will usually produce better performance.

    For example:

    • For a file system with an average file size of less than 64 KB, you may want to set 8 additional connections and 20 read-ahead processes.
    • For a file system with an average file size of 32KB, you may want to set 12 additional connections and 24 read-ahead processes.

    If the number of files per directory is also very low (less than 4 or 5 files per directory), even more connections and read-ahead processes might improve performance.

  • The default TCP window size used by the server is 256 KB. If the latency (round trip time) of the link is 70ms, then the maximum realistic throughput on a single TCP connection is about 3 MB per second.

  • If the file systems involved have relatively few physical disks, increasing the number of connections and read-ahead processes will gain relatively little performance improvement.

    For instance, for a small source file system with data on only 32 physical disks, there will not be much to gain by increasing the values above the defaults.


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