Virtualizing Disk Performance


Large- and small-scale storage systems frequently serve a mixture of workloads, an increasing number of which require some form of performance guarantee. Providing guaranteed disk performance—the equivalent of a ``virtual disk’'—is challenging because disk requests are non-preemptible and their execution times are stateful, partially non-deterministic, and can vary by orders of magnitude. Guaranteeing throughput, the standard measure of disk performance, requires worst-case I/O time assumptions orders of magnitude greater than average I/O times, with correspondingly low performance and poor control of the resource allocation. We show that disk time utilization— analogous to CPU utilization in CPU scheduling and the only fully provisionable aspect of disk performance—yields greater control, more efficient use of disk resources, and better isolation between request streams than bandwidth or I/O rate when used as the basis for disk reservation and scheduling.

RTAS 2008 (Best Student Paper)