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Scalable storage area network tester

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AGILENT Technologies has announced three breakthrough enhancements to its storage area network (SAN) tester that increase its test capacity 100 times, extend test coverage and reduce cost of test.

The new features added to the Agilent 1730B SAN tester are device virtualisation, host bus adapter (HBA) behaviour emulation, and a capture buffer for failure analysis.

As SAN fabrics double in size each year, testing them with actual servers and storage devices becomes increasingly challenging and expensive, reaching the scalability limits of traditional test methodologies. Device virtualisation consists of emulating multiple devices behind each physical test port, thereby reducing the cost of test.

The Agilent SAN tester's support of arbitrated loop technology allows emulation of up to 126 virtual devices behind each physical test port. Test engineers can use the Agilent SAN tester to emulate 2,000 devices in a 2U chassis, compared to fewer than ten real devices using the same space.

SAN fabric services can be stressed as if 126 physical devices were present for each physical port of the 1730B SAN tester. Each port can generate negative test through network exceptions such as link down or loop initialisation.

Engineers can characterise behaviour of each device by specifying how it logs into the fabric and registers to the name server, and how the name server is queried.

Characterisation is accomplished by indicating which commands are used, in which order they are sent to the fabric services, and what the parameters are. This allows engineers to extend test coverage and find problems associated with a specific device behaviour.

Also added to each test port is a real-time protocol analyser with triggers and filters for protocol debugging. Each test port has a 32MB-capture buffer behind it, allowing simultaneous trace on multiple ports.

The Agilent 1730B analyser differs from traditional protocol analysers in that it supports triggering on fabric-performance events such as latency, misdirected or lost frames, and sequence errors. The analyser's trigger also includes eight pattern recognisers that can be defined in a trigger event.

Combining analyser capabilities with fabric-performance measurements into one tool lowers overall cost of test.

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