USENIX Technical Program - Abstract - USENIX Annual
Conference, General Session - June 2000
Auto-diagnosis of field problems in an appliance operating
Gaurav Banga, Network Appliance Inc.
The use of network appliances, i.e., computer systems specialized to
perform a single function, is becoming increasingly widespread. Network
appliances have many advantages over traditional general-purpose systems
such as higher performance/cost metrics, easier configuration and lower
costs of management.
Unfortunately, while the complexity of configuration and management of
network appliances in normal usage is much lower than that of
general-purpose systems, this is not always true in problem situations.
The debugging of configuration and performance problems with appliance
computers is a task similar to the debugging of such problems with
general-purpose systems, and requires substantial expertise.
This paper examines the issues of appliance-like management and
performance debugging. We present a number of techniques that enable
appliance-like problem diagnosis. These include continuous monitoring
for abnormal conditions, diagnosis of configuration problems of network
protocols via protocol augmentation, path-based problem isolation via
cross-layer analysis, and automatic configuration change tracking. We
also describe the use of these techniques in a problem auto-diagnosis
subsystem that we have built for the Data ONTAP operating system. Our
experience with this system indicates a significant reduction in the
cost of problem debugging and a much simpler user experience.
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