The File Server Capacity Tool (FSCT) is a free download from Microsoft that helps you determine the capacity of a specific file server configuration (running Windows or any operating system that implements the SMB or SMB2 protocols). It simulates a specific set of operations (the “Home Folders” workload) being executed by a large number of users against the file server, confirming the ability of that file server to perform the specified operations in a timely fashion. It makes it possible to verify, for instance, if a specific file server configuration can handle 10,000 users. In case you’re not familiar with FSCT’s “Home Folders Workload”, it simulates a standard user’s workload based on Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer, and command-line usage when the file server is the location of the user’s home directory. We frequently use FSCT internally at Microsoft. In fact, before being released publicly, the tool was used to verify if a specific change to the Windows code has any significant performance impact in a file server scenario. We continue use FSCT for that purpose today.
Recently, the File Server Team released a document with results from a series of FSCT tests. These tests were performed in order to quantify the file server performance difference between Windows Storage Server 2008 (based on Windows Server 2008) and Windows Server 2008 R2. It was also an exercise to analyze the capacity (in terms of FSCT “Home Folders” users) of some common File Server configurations using between 24 and 192 disks. The 192-spindle configuration was able to handle 23,000 FSCT users running the Home Folders workload. Check the blog post at http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2011/04/08/fsct-test-results-detail-the-performance-of-windows-server-2008-r2-file-server-configurations-23-000-users-with-192-spindles.aspx for further details and a link to the document in the Microsoft Download Center.