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SANtool storage diagnostic device (Pre-announcement)

April 25th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Getting close to releasing what I believe will be the new standard in storage diagnostics for sysadmins and service people …  Let me know what you think!!

The SANtool™ is a multi-platform portable storage diagnostic tool. The SANtool enables the administrator/technician to efficiently diagnose, test, tune, break and/or repair storage peripherals. Unlike traditional software diagnostics there is nothing to license, “install” or remove. Plug the SANtool USB Flash stick into a machine running a supported Windows or UNIX/LINUX operating system, and start using the software. The diagnostics are performed by SANtools® command-line program, (SMARTMon-UX), and controlled via a web browser over a secure (SSL) connection. All HTML, Javascript files, images, the embedded web server, and O/S-specific executables are included on the SANtool.  No java runtime, external DLLs, drivers, or web servers are required.

This is picture of the SANtool desktop

This is picture of the SANtool desktop

If you prefer a GUI, and are running a Windows-family O/S, then the embedded server can be configured to auto launch, and even start up the local browser and set it to the appropriate URL.  Enter the appropriate username/password combination and start doing your job.

Click on an icon for the function you wish to perform, then fill in parameters, if any exist.  If you are not sure what a function does, then click on a preview icon, and it will show you sample output taken from one of our test machines.  Or click on a link for online documentation hosted on the SANtools web site.  The look-and-feel is that of a standard Windowsâ-family desktop, complete with a start button and movable resizeable windows. Run a function, and the output goes into a new window. Use the inherent features of a browser to print or email the contents, or save them somewhere on the USB stick for later analysis.

If you are more comfortable with a command-line interface (or are using a UNIX/LINUX O/S), or have developed shell scripts and/or batch files that require the command-line version, then use it that way.  The SANtool supports multiple operating systems and has a common file system that can be mounted by both Windows and UNIX family operating systems.  Once the SANtool is mounted, enter smartmon-ux -h (help, for example), and the software will figure out what host operating system you are running and invoke the appropriate binary for whatever O/S your host is running.

With the exception of a small secure region that is used for authentication purposes, the USB stick is fully read/writable.  Engineers can add their own programs, firmware files, or anything else they need and treat the SANtool like any other USB stick.  They can even present the SANtool to the end-user, let him/her reformat it, and simply restore master distribution from zip file and the SANtool will not “lose” it’s licensing or user preferences.   As nothing gets “installed” on the computer, then you don’t have to worry about overwriting registry entries, modifying runtime libraries, or even purchase a license for a remote machine just to run a 5-minute test.

Anybody who has been pleasantly surprised to find out that USB flash memory survived a washing machine, or conversely, has lugged a laptop through airport security, or had to abort a trip due to a broken, lost, or stolen laptop will appreciate the freedom and convenience of traveling with a SANtool.  If you ever need to let tests run overnight, a week-end, or perpetually, then it is certainly more convenient to take an extra SANtool and leave it on site, rather than leaving a laptop, or proprietary software installed on end-user systems.

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