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The I/O path model (IOPm) is a graphical representation of the architecture of parallel file systems and the machine they are deployed on. With help of IOPm, file system and machine configurations can be quickly analyzed and distinguished from each other. Contrary to typical representations of the machine and file system architecture, the model visualizes the data or meta data path of client access. Abstract functionality of hardware components such as client and server nodes is covered as well as software aspects such as high-level I/O libraries, collective I/O and caches. Redundancy could be represented, too. Besides the advantage of a standardized representation for analysis IOPm assists to identify and communicate bottlenecks in the machine and file system configuration by highlighting performance relevant functionalities. By abstracting functionalities from the components they are hosted on, IOPm will enable to build interfaces to monitor file system activity.