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The NonStop Cadence of NonStop Serviceability Enhancements Continues

In a previous blog, I bragged about many serviceability enhancements to NonStop BladeSystems we added in 2012. This year brings yet another set of serviceability enhancements, and I get a chance to brag about them again.

 

Serviceability enhancements released in February, 2013

The following NonStop serviceability enhancements have been released with OSM SPRs (T0682H02^ADD, T0633G07^ABQ and T0634G06^ABD) in February, 2013:

  • Double chip sparing support
  • DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard enhancement to allow configuration of a single DHCP/DNS server
  • New alarm if both DP2 processes of a disk volume are in Softdown state
  • Non-default and Windows domain user support in DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard, and Prepare for Down-system CLIM Firmware Update, Update HSS and Copy HSS Files actions
  • CLIM hard disk firmware version display in OSM
  • Ability in OSM Event Viewer to view events in logging system time zone
  • New 2048-bit client certificate support in CLIM-ESKM Registration Tool
  • SSL enabled by default for J-Series and H-Series OSM
  • OpenOffice suite on NSC DVD

 

And here is a bit more detail on these.

 

Double chip sparing support

For customers using HP-UX systems, “double chip sparing” should not be a new term. This prevents an alarm for DIMM replacement until two DRAM devices within the same rank fail. Now, NonStop systems that use 4-bit wide DRAM devices (i.e., NB54000c, NS2100 and NS2200) can utilize this innovative technology, which obviates unnecessary DIMM replacements. What’s in it for you? 1/17th of the repair rate, and 1/3rd less memory downtime compared to “single chip sparing”.

 

Uh…oh…I introduced yet a new term J Let me explain a little more.

 

On an Itanium 9300 (aka Tukwila) processor, 64 bytes of data plus 8 bytes of ECC (Error Correcting Code) are stored on 2 DIMMs using x4 DRAM devices. If an x4 DRAM chip fails, the memory controller can recreate lost data from ECC. The memory controller then “erases” the bad x4 DRAM and walks through memory to recreate the missing data and store in the spare x4 DRAM. This is called “single chip sparing”.

 

Now, after “erasure” is finished, a second x4 DRAM can fail and the memory controller can once again recreate the lost data. As a matter of fact, even with two failed x4 DRAMs, the memory controller can still correct single bit errors. The service policy with “double chip sparing” is to ignore a single x4 DRAM failure and only service the memory after a second x4 DRAM fails in the same rank.

 

To help illustrate how this works, let me show you a few examples of failure scenarios and the corresponding repair actions, using double chip sparing:

  1. A rank has two DRAM device failures and both devices are in the same DIMM. In this case, a single DIMM has failed, and thus, the repair action would be to replace the DIMM.
  2. A rank has two DRAM device failures and each device is within a different DIMM. In this case, two DIMMs within the same rank have failed, and thus, the repair action would be to replace both DIMMs.
  3. An Advanced Memory Buffer (AMB, aka Millbrook) data bit fails and then, a DRAM device fails on one of the DIMMs on this same AMB. In this case, initially, all DIMMs sharing the same AMB will be indicted, but then, OSM will detect that all DIMMs share the same AMB and failed device position, and thus, AMB will be indicted and the DIMM with the second device failure will also be indicated. This means, the repair action on an NB54000c would be to replace the DIMM and motherboard (because AMB resides on the motherboard). On NS2100 and NS2200 systems, the repair action would be to replace the DIMM and riser card (because AMB resides on a riser card).

 

DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard enhancement to allow configuration of a single DHCP/DNS server

We introduced the DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard last year in February 2012 to help automate the configuration and reconfiguration of DHCP and DNS servers on NonStop System Consoles (NSCs) or CLIMs in a maintenance LAN and assist OSM Service Connection to monitor the DHCP and DNS server configuration and status. Now, we have added a new option in the wizard that allows configuration of a single DHCP/DNS server to match the settings saved in a configuration file. The major use case is when you need to add or replace a NSC. There is absolutely no need to redo the DHCP and DNS configuration on both NSCs anymore; you can simply use this new option to configure DHCP and DNS servers on the new NSC.

 

New alarm if both DP2 processes of a disk volume are in Softdown state

OSM now creates a major “Volume Inaccessible” alarm if a DP2 process for a disk volume enters a Softdown state, and

  • the other DP2 process is already in Softdown state, or
  • the other processor is down.

 

Previous versions of OSM generated an alarm when a DP2 process enters a Softdown state, but it was the same alarm when one DP2 process enters the Softdown state and also, when both DP2 processes are in Softdown state. Now, with this new alarm, it is very clear that the whole disk volume is inaccessible if both DP2 processes are in Softdown state.

 

Non-default and Windows domain user support in DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard, and Prepare for Down-system CLIM Firmware Update, Update HSS and Copy HSS Files action

NSCs are shipped with default local users (e.g., Administrator). Many customers add other local and Windows domain users to NSCs. Thus, we now allow users other than the default NSC users and Windows domain users in:

  • Prepare for Down System CLIM Firmware Update action on the CLIMs object in OSM Service Connection,
  • Update HSS and Copy HSS Files actions in OSM Low-Level Link, and
  • NonStop Maintenance LAN DHCP DNS Configuration Wizard (while connecting to peer NSC).

 

CLIM hard disk firmware version display in OSM

We’ve added the ability in OSM Service Connection for you to see the Firmware Version attribute on the CLIM Hard Disk. The major use case for this is if a service advisory is issued for a particular hard disk firmware version. Now, you can easily identify if your system is affected by looking at this attribute.

 

Ability in OSM Event Viewer to view events in logging system time zone

This enhancement will surely be welcome by customers, GNSC and development (including me). How many times it has happened that I am looking at the EMS events from a customer system and the timestamps of the events do not match when the problem occurred – before I realize that the timestamps were being shown based on my local system. Not anymore…!

 

Now, OSM Event Viewer has a new capability to view the EMS events in the same time zone in which they were logged. It is as simple as using a checkbox called “Use time zone of logging system”, which is displayed only when events are viewed in log file mode. No longer will I have any issue correlating the timestamps of events displayed in OSM Event Viewer versus what is documented in the customer case.

 

New 2048-bit client certificate support in CLIM-ESKM Registration Tool

Are you a customer who uses NonStop Volume Level Encryption for data-at-rest encryption? If so, you already know that using Volume Level Encryption requires registering Storage CLIMs with the HP Enterprise Secure Key Manager. OSM Service Connection provides a guided procedure called “Register CLIMs with Key Manager” to automate this registration step. One option provided by this guided procedure is to create automatically generated client certificates. But this was previously limited to 1024-bit key size. With continued emphasis on security enhancements, the guided procedure now provides the ability to use 2048-bit key size (in addition to 1024-bit key size) in creating automatically generated client certificates.

 

SSL enabled by default for J-Series and H-Series OSM

As you already know, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is required to be enabled in OSM Service Connection for it to be able to connect to HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM), HP Insight Remote Support Advanced, HP Insight Control Power Management or any NonStop Essentials product (hint, hint --- read my last blog).

 

For all J-Series systems, SSL was enabled in OSM Service Connection and OSM Event Viewer, by default. But for H-Series systems, you needed to use an OSMCONF setting to enable it. Now, SSL is also enabled in OSM Service Connection and OSM Event Viewer by default for all H-series systems too, and you don’t need to enable it in OSMCONF.

 

One less step to configure the system is always good…

 

OpenOffice suite on NSC DVD

The Apache OpenOffice suite of applications is used to open and edit Microsoft Office documents as well as documents in native ODF format. Now, we have added Apache OpenOffice version 3.4.1 to the NSC DVD as part of OSM Console Tools (T0634). It can easily be accessed from OpenOffice.org program group in the Start menu.

 

Why do you need this? You need this if you want to view spreadsheets, documents and presentations on the NSC. For example, files created by OSM in .csv format, such as hardware inventory reports created by the OSM System Inventory Tool, Access Control List report, or saved Multi-Resource View created in OSM Service Connection. You no longer have to copy these files to some other workstation to be able to view them.

 

Conclusions

In the previous blog on NonStop serviceability enhancements, I promised to come back with more. And Now, I promise to come back with even more enhancements as we continue to think of and deliver them. I encourage you to let your NonStop representitives know what would help make your job easier in managing and servicing your NonStop systems or sending me your latest and greatest idea of what you would do that could improve something in this area. NonStop innovation is inspired by the user community from the start. NonStop serviceability is always on an upward journey. Install these latest SPRs (which do not require any system load and can be installed online) and continue to enjoy being part of the ongoing NonStop adventure.

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About the Author
Vinay Gupta is an HP Distinguished Technologist and the NonStop Manageability Architect. He joined Tandem in 1994 after graduating from Indi...


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