July 23, 2009

The importance of good hardware


I am currently engaged with a customer in a Perforce migration from an older Windows Server machine to a brand-spankling new Linux server.

The move wasn't primarily done for performance reasons but for consistency with the rest of the IT landscape. Nevertheless, the performance difference is astounding. It used to take the customer 4 hours to perform a checkpoint. Now it takes 12 minutes. The responsiveness of the Perforce Server for most queries is outright scary. Mind you, upgrading from 2005.1 to 2008.2 helped a bit as well; the Perforce engineers are always out to squeeze more speed out of the server with every release.

But the point I am trying to make is that it pays big time to invest a bit of money and effort into getting your hardware for your Perforce server right. Many performance calls my esteemed colleagues at Support receive are down to the hardware of the customer being inadequate or incorrectly configured. Perforce Support cannot give out any recommendation on any specific hardware or operating system. But this restriction does not apply to your favourite consultant :-)

Obviously, the best hardware in the world does not help if you are creating thousands of labels or branches a minute. But even when sticking to best practices your depots will outgrow your current hardware at some stage, slowing down operations - especially if your company has grown a lot since the original inception of Perforce.

So, if you are tired of waiting for your submit to finish and remember the good ol' days when the server responded quickly - maybe it is time for an upgrade.

Now, I know you are dying to know what kind of hardware I have in front of me, but I can't tell you. Let me just say that it involves directly attached fast SAS disks in RAID 10 configuration, formatted in XFS. Oh, and 8 fast cores + 32 GB of RAM :-)

Happy hacking

Sven Erik