After spending many years working in various UNIX environments, I began working concurrently with a new operating system called Windows NT Advanced Server version 3.1b. Windows NT generated some initial excitement, but it started relatively slow. That has changed. With the release of NT 4.0, this operating system has really built up steam. While researching, testing, benchmarking, and developing new solutions on NT from the workgroup to enterprise level, I am continually collecting troves of information on tuning and sizing NT Server. Developing NT Server-based solutions either as a Senior System Architect for NCR or as Chief of Technology for OAO, the same questions about NT Server arise again and again. Can NT actually be tuned? What size server is required? Will it scale as needed? How do we size it correctly? Why does system performance appear sluggish? How do you determine if NT has run out of resources? How can we help our solution to scale? Anyone developing NT solutions has commonly run into these questions. This book addresses these questions and more.
The goal of this book is to provide a practical approach to tuning and sizing NT Server so that you can immediately begin to maximize your server's overall performance. This book's approach is to discuss server technologies and then explain how NT Server takes advantage of these server technologies. Once this knowledge base is in place it will eliminate the guess work that revolves around tuning and sizing. This enables you to make more intelligent decisions regarding your NT Server's performance and optimization. Instead of providing lists of registry or other NT Server variables that can possibly be changed (or found in the NT Server documentation), specific "rules of thumb" are provided to help you get a jump start in the tuning and sizing of your NT solution.
To help with the integration of all the information provided in this book, the final chapter incorporates in-depth sizing and tuning case studies for Microsoft Exchange, NT File Server, and Microsoft Internet Information Server. These case studies utilize the strategies, methodologies, rules of thumb, bottleneck detection, tuning, and sizing techniques presented throughout this book to highlight the improvements that are possible in an NT Server environment. Again, specific recommendations and results are provided. It is important to note that although numerous specific recommendations are provided, the concepts and principles discussed throughout this book are applicable even as new NT Server versions are released and server technology continues to mature. Of course the tools used to implement these concepts and principals will change. To aid you in keeping up with the new tools that can help your performance improvement efforts, periodically visit http://www.TuningAndSizingNT.com. This web site will also provide a location to share information surrounding the performance of NT Server.
Tuning and Sizing NT Servers primarily targets System Architects, System and Network Administrators, System Engineers, developers and other IS professionals who develop solutions using NT Server. Tuning and Sizing NT Servers' focus is performance. Everyone wants a high-performing server that is big enough to get the job done well, will efficiently use the resources that are available, and is not so overly configured such that they will never use what they have purchased. With these thoughts in mind, performance should always be a consideration when developing a computer-based solution. This book helps those developing and managing NT Server solutions to acquire a better understanding of performance concepts with a focus on actually implementing specific solutions.
This book assumes a general knowledge of NT Server planning, design, and administration. Because of this assumption, this book is targeted for medium to advanced NT experience levels. For some, much of this information will be new. Others may not feel comfortable with some of the advanced "Thinking Outside the Box" sections, while advanced NT gurus may gravitate towards these sections. Working through the book in a sequential manner from Chapter 1 through 8 is recommended since each chapter adds to your overall performance knowledge base. Regardless of your experience level, if you do not work through this book in this manner, review Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 8 and then select the other material as it relates to your particular environment.
Tuning and Sizing NT Servers jumps right in, with Chapter 1 providing a series of quick tips and ideas that can be implemented immediately. (I became tired of picking up those thick NT Server books and having to read half the book before getting some good, practical hands-on suggestions.) These quick tips are ready to use as is, but are not thoroughly explained in Chapter 1. Chapter 1 does provide those familiar with NT a great place to start in the tuning process, while the beginner should consider this chapter as a prelude of what is to come and then move directly to Chapter 2. Continue reading the subsequent chapters to learn when to really use the quick tips, what they do, how and when to implement them, and more advanced techniques. A structured performance methodology is reviewed in Chapter 2, "Tuning Strategies and Measurement Gathering". In Chapter 3, Capacity Planning of NT Servers is explored and provides a structured sizing methodology that discusses leveraging NT Server tools and industry standard benchmarks. From there, the chapters follow a general information flow of investigating the server resources (CPU, Memory, Disk, and Networks), how NT Server utilizes these resources, how to size the specific subsystems, detect bottlenecks, and then explores specific tuning recommendations. Leading by example is something I consider important, thus Chapter 8, "Putting Theory into Practice-Sizing and Tuning Case Studies" utilizes the methodologies and recommendations developed throughout this book to develop NT Server solutions based on Microsoft Exchange, File Server, and Internet Information Server.