MarkLogic Server I/O Requirements Guide
04 February 2020 04:12 PM


This article will help MarkLogic Administrators and System Architects who need to understand how to provision the I/O capacity of their MarkLogic installation.

MarkLogic Disk Usage

Databases in MarkLogic Server are made up of forests. Individual forests are made up of stands. In the interests of both read and write performance, MarkLogic Server doesn't update data already on disk. Instead, it simply writes to the current in-memory stand, which will then contain the latest version of any new or changed fragments, and old versions are marked as obsolete. The current in-memory stand will eventually become yet another on-disk stand in a particular forest.

Ultimately, however, the more stands or obsolete fragments there are in a forest, the more time it takes to resolve a query. Merges are a background process that reduce the number of stands and purge obsolete fragments in each forest in a database, thereby improving the time it takes to resolve queries. Because merges are so important to the optimal operation of MarkLogic Server, it's important to provision the appropriate amount of I/O bandwidth, where each forest will typically need 20MB/sec read and 20MB/sec write. For example, a machine hosting four forests will typically need sufficient I/O bandwidth for both 80MB/sec read and 80MB/sec write.

Determining I/O Bandwidth

One way to determine I/O bandwidth would be to use a synthetic benchmarking utility to return the available read and write bandwidth for the system as currently provisioned. While useful in terms of getting a ballpark sense of the I/O capacity, this approach unfortunately does not provide any information about the real world demand that will ultimately be placed on that capacity.

Another way would be to actually load test a candidate provisioning against the application you're going to deploy on this cluster. If you start from our general recommendations (from MarkLogic: Understanding System Resources) then do an application level load test (paying special attention to I/O heavy activities like ingestion or re-indexing, and the subsequent merging), the system metrics from that load test will then tell you what, if any, bottlenecks or extra capacity may exist on the system across not only your I/O subsystem, but for your CPU and RAM usage as well.

For both of these approaches (measuring capacity via synthetic benchmarks or measuring both capacity and demand vs. synthetic application load), it would also be useful to have some sense of the theoretical available I/O bandwidth before doing any testing. In other words, if you're provisioning shared storage like SAN or NAS, your storage admin should have some idea of the bandwidth available to each of the hosts. If you're provisioning local disk, you probably already have some performance guidance from the vendors of the I/O controllers or disks being used in your nodes. We've seen situations in the past where actual available bandwidth has been much different from expected, but at a minimum the expected values will provide a decent baseline for comparison against your eventual testing results.

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