Microsoft: TPC should also measure database availability

The TPC-E benchmark should be extended so it can be used to compare high-availability systems, researchers argue

The Transaction Processing Performance Council should add an additional metric for availability to its set of database performance benchmarks, Microsoft researchers plan to argue at the upcoming TPC conference, being held this week in Seattle.

Such a metric "could provide guidance in [database] system design, and also in the picking of the technology," said Microsoft researcher Yantao Li, who, along with colleague Charles Levine, will make the case for the test at the TPC's Third International Conference on Performance Evaluation and Benchmarking (TPCTC 2011). It would also reflect the growing importance of having database systems remain in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The TPC's TPC-E benchmark can measure the performance and scalability of online transactional processing systems, by simulating an average load at a financial brokerage firm. But it doesn't take into account how long these database systems can run or how quickly they can be running again, should they stop working for some reason. So researchers at the Microsoft Research Lab propose adding another metric, the time taken for a system to recover after it goes down.

Databases can stop working for all sorts of reasons. Planned downtime could involve the application of patches or hardware maintenance. Unplanned downtime can happen due to software bugs, equipment malfunction, power outages and human errors.

This test would wrap into a single metric both how long a database can run, on average, without going down, along with how fast the database gets back up to speed once a disabling problem is fixed. It would be the product of a system's mean time between failures (MTBF) and the mean time to recovery (MTTR), also called mean time to repair, the time it takes the system to fully boot up.

To measure MTTR, the researchers propose extending the TPC's System Under Test (SUT) to look at all the components of the database system, not only the primary servers but also standby servers and connectivity between system components. System cost could also be calculated alongside the availability metric, allowing potential buyers to balance how much availability they'd want for a new system against how much they'd be willing to pay.

The work came about as part of Microsoft's internal engineering tests. "We thought that there was some good original work here that would be of interest to a wider audience," Levine said.

Microsoft itself has used the benchmark for its own SQL Server-based systems. One test had a configuration consisting of a primary server and a standby server. Both were Dell PE 2950s with 16 gigabytes of memory and two Intel 2.66Ghz quad-core processors running Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008

In this configuration, a typical failover, where work gets handed over to the standby server, would take 41 seconds, the researchers report.

"We are looking for ideas like this," said Raghunath Nambiar, a Cisco performance strategist and co-chairman of the conference. He noted that the purpose of the conference is to field new ideas on how to expand TPC's benchmarks.

After the presentation, the TPC will evaluate whether the community would be interested in having such a metric incorporated into TPC-E. "It is something that could be done relatively quickly, because it is an incremental addition to an existing model," Levine said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Transaction Processing Performance CouncilapplicationsdatabasesMicrosoftsoftware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?