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I/O spikes are extreme changes in network demands that can cause certain impacts on distributed computing systems. This general term can be used to describe the different kinds of network or system impacts that may be problematic for planners and IT professionals.
One of the common scenarios where I/O spikes are a problem is in a network or system with a storage area network. Here, stored data are distributed across a range of containers and are available to multiple servers. What happens with this and other kinds of distributed networks is that high demands on data require a lot of server activity, and if a lot of this activity happens at once, it produces I/O spikes.
Professionals addressing I/O spikes often talk about "latency issues" or "problems with throughput" on a network, all of which are technical ways of saying that I/O spikes are causing a slowdown. They may cause server requests to slow, or even time out, which leads planners to look at the infrastructure handling the data requests. It is common for client companies to ask their vendors about services that experience I/O spikes to try to pinpoint problems in a sophisticated IT architecture.