Benchmarking in a general sense means comparing performances by reference to an objective standard or the process of setting such performance standards.
In an IT-specific sense benchmarking is commonly used to mean establishing a set of performance standards to use as a baseline to gauge future performance. In other words, benchmarking provides a standard to check against on a regular basis to make sure that overall system performance or specific process performance has not slowed down.
Hardware is typically benchmarked so it can be compared to other hardware. Exactly what aspects of device performance most accurately reflect performance and should be benchmarked varies by device, and the choice of benchmarks is sometimes controversial or even contentious.
Database benchmarking involves the use of software tools to test benchmarking workloads against your database servers. With database benchmarking, you can see how your system stacks up to an “ideal system” and get an accurate assessment of both current workload and system performance.
Many companies undertake a database benchmarking when they are considering a major new hardware and database investment — with accurate benchmarks in hand, they can design the right combination of hardware and database platform to meet their needs (and validate future scalability). It might cost thousands of dollars for a comprehensive benchmark of a database application at a larger enterprise, given a thorough benchmarking is a time consuming process. However, given the improved performance and productivity you will enjoy by purchasing the right hardware and software for your database needs, an accurate benchmarking will likely save you many times the amount you spent.