File Server Comparison:
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Is 13.5% Faster Than Novell IntranetWare 4.11 and Has 2.6 Times Better Price/Performance
Mindcraft tested the file-server performance of Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 and Novell IntranetWare 4.11 on a Compaq ProLiant 5500. We tested file sharing using TCP/IP for both servers. Table 1 shows the peak throughput measured for each system in megabits per second (Mbits/S), the price of the software tested, and the price/performance in dollars per Mbits/S.
Table 1: Summary
Mindcraft tested these file servers with the Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operation NetBench 5.01 benchmark. The Performance Analysis section gives the detailed configuration of the NetBench test suite we used. The price/performance calculations are described in the Price/Performance section.
For a one-processor system at peak file server performance, Windows NT Server 4.0 is 13.5% faster than IntranetWare 4.11 and its price/performance is 2.6 times better. For a two-processor system, Windows NT Server 4.0 is 6.4% faster than IntranetWare 4.11 at peak performance. Its price/performance is 2.4 times better. In addition, on a two-processor system when the maximum load is applied, Windows NT Server 4.0 delivers 14% more throughput than IntranetWare 4.11.
Windows NT Server 4.0 is a more cost-effective and higher performance file server than Novell IntranetWare 4.11.
Looking at the Results
The NetBench 5.01 benchmark measures file server performance. Its primary performance metric is throughput in bytes per second. The NetBench documentation defines throughput as "The number of bytes a client transferred to and from the server each second. NetBench measures throughput by dividing the number of bytes moved by the amount of time it took to move them. NetBench reports throughput as bytes per second." We report throughput in megabytes per second to make the charts easier to read.
We tested file-sharing performance on Windows NT Server 4.0 and IntranetWare 4.11 using TCP/IP as the underlying protocol for both systems. Figure 1 shows the throughput we measured plotted against the number of test systems that participated in each data point.
Figure 1: NetBench Throughput Performance(larger numbers are better)
You need to know how NetBench 5.01 works in order to understand what the NetBench throughput measurement means. NetBench is designed to stress a file server by using a number of test systems to read and write files on it. Specifically, a NetBench test suite is made up of a number of mixes. A mix is a particular configuration of NetBench parameters, including the number of test systems used to load the server. Typically, each mix increases the load on the server by increasing the number of test systems involved while keeping the rest of the parameters the same. We modified the standard NetBench NBDM_60.TST test suite in order to test each product to its maximum performance level and to make the test run in a reasonable amount of time. The parameters we used are shown in NetBench Test Suite Configuration Parameters.
With this background, let us look at the results in Figure 1 (the supporting details for this chart are in NetBench Configuration and Results).
The three major areas to look at are:
This tells you the maximum throughput you can expect from a file server.
Where Peak Performance Occurs
You can tell how quickly a server reaches its saturation point by looking at where the peak performance occurs in relation to the number of test systems.
Shape of the Performance Curve
We normally include an analysis of internal server performance measurements in our reports to find what bottlenecks limited the overall performance of the products tested. We gather these statistics during the tests by using monitoring programs included in the operating system. Windows NT Server provides a standard performance-monitoring tool called perfmon. It allows you to select which performance statistics you want to monitor and lets you see them in a real-time chart as well as save them in a log file for later analysis. Typically we log the processor, memory, network interface, and disk subsystem performance counters.
IntranetWare does not provide performance-monitoring tools that could be used to log server statistics. Because we could not obtain comparable internal server performance measurements for both operating systems, we will not offer any bottleneck analysis.
Windows NT Server 4.0 offers high-performance file sharing on one- and two-processor systems. It outperforms IntranetWare 4.11 and its performance characteristics help keep users more productive and aid system administrators in providing appropriate file-server capacity.
We calculated price/performance by dividing the street price of the software tested by the peak throughput measured in megabits per second. We left out the cost of the computer because the tests were run on the same system and because we assumed you were making a decision about which file server software to use.
We obtained a street price of $2,659 for a 72-user license of Windows NT Server 4.0 by requesting a quote from a value-added reseller (VAR). Likewise, a VAR quoted us a $6,100 street price for a 75-user license for IntranetWare 4.11 (because of the way Novell licenses IntranetWare 4.11, it is less expensive to get a license for the extra three users than it would be to get a license for exactly 72 users).
Configuration and Tuning
We used the same Compaq ProLiant 5500 to test both Windows NT Server 4.0 and IntranetWare 4.11. Table 2 shows the system configuration we used.
Table 2: Compaq ProLiant 5500 Configuration
Windows NT Server 4.0 Configuration
IntranetWare 4.11 Configuration
The Test Systems and Network Configuration
Mindcraft ran these tests using a total of 72 test systems configured as shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Test Systems Configuration
By having one network for even numbered test systems and another for the odd numbered ones, the load on each network into the server was balanced. Figure 2 shows the test lab configuration.
Figure 2: Test Lab Configuration
Mindcraft, Inc. conducted the performance tests described in this report on May 26 and 27, 1998.
Mindcraft certifies that the results reported herein represent the file-server performance of Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 and Novell IntranetWare 4.11 running on a Compaq ProLiant 5500 as measured by NetBench 5.01.
Our test results should be reproducible by others who use the same test lab configuration as well as the computer and software configurations and modifications documented in this report.
NetBench Test Suite Configuration Parameters
Windows NT Server 4.0 on a One-Processor ProLiant 5500
Windows NT Server 4.0 on a Two-Processor ProLiant 5500
IntranetWare 4.11 on a One-Processor ProLiant 5500
IntranetWare 4.11 on a Two-Processor ProLiant 5500
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