I am sure many have noticed that whenever you try to scp a file to or from an ESX(i) host the performance is a little slow. Let’s take the following example, here is an scp between two hosts on the same switch utilizing links that are 1GB.

~# scp 1gb_File
root@'s password:
1gb_File                                       100% 1000MB  24.4MB/s   00:41

Now running a test with netperf from within two VMs on those two sames host, going through the same path (ie: using the same vmnics), we see the following:

~ # /tmp/netserver
Starting netserver at port 12865

~ # /tmp/netperf -H -t TCP_STREAM -l 30
Recv Send Send
Socket Socket Message Elapsed
Size Size Size Time Throughput
bytes bytes bytes secs. 10^6bits/sec
65536 32768 32768 30.00 939.59

So we are capable of utilizing the full 1GB but the hypervisor is limiting the userworlds other than VMs (ie: dd, scp). I do understand that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison (scp is actually reading and writing data to and from the local disks) but we are seeing scp transferring at 195Mb/s while netperf reaches 939Mb/s.

This is by design and makes perfect sense. We want all our resources dedicated to the VMs and not to any of the tools within the hypervisor. There is a pretty good article entitled I/O Analyzer. It’s a VMware appliance that comes pre-installed with a Linux distro and has IOmeter preloaded on it. I might do a post on how to use that tool, as well. :)