SupportAssist Features and Benefits

 

SupportAssist provides you with the following features and benefits:

Fast and automatic data collection—Depending on the size of your group, a scheduled data collection might take as little as 5 minutes for a typical two to four member configuration.

Parallel data collection—When you configure multiple groups to use SupportAssist, data collection occurs in parallel, up to three groups at a time, across all groups.

Proactive diagnostics—By proactively gathering commonly used diagnostics and configuration information, then making this information available to Dell Support, SupportAssist significantly reduces the time it takes for the Dell Support organization to help customers who may be experiencing similar difficulties. Dell Support can use historical data to determine if customers are at risk, without requiring customer intervention.

Heuristic analysis—By gathering diagnostics and configuration information, then making this information available to Dell Support, SupportAssist allows Dell Support organization to monitor all kind of issue and proactively contact customer, and/or develop future patches.

Secure—SupportAssist uses a special read-only group account (autopilot-ro) to access and gather only diagnostic data from the group. It cannot access user data stored on the group. Diagnostic data is uploaded on an SSL-encrypted secure channel.

Consistent and accurate—Because most data analysis occurs on the server-side software, customers who enable SupportAssist functionality will benefit from consistent automated analysis, free of human error.

Resilient—If SupportAssist cannot complete an upload due to internet connectivity or server down situations, it defers the upload and attempts an upload at a later time.

Minimal Performance Impact—For the majority of groups under normal conditions, adding SupportAssist adds only a 5% to 10% performance impact during the relatively short time when SupportAssist collects data.

Password Scrubbing—All user passwords are scrubbed before data is uploaded.

Overview of SupportAssist for EqualLogic PS Series Groups


SupportAssist is an optional component of SAN Headquarters that enables you to collect, and optionally upload, PS Series group configuration diagnostic data to Dell Support for analysis and diagnosis. It is bundled with every SAN Headquarters Server and configured from the SAN Headquarters Client.

SupportAssist communicates directly with a PS Series group to collect diagnostic data. When the data collection completes, SupportAssist automatically uploads the data to the Dell Support datacenter.

Data transmission can occur in any of the following ways:

  • Weekly—According to a user-specified day and time.

  • Event Driven—Whenever SAN Headquarters receives a critical event notification through the syslog mechanism from a PS Series group. Event-driven data collections occur once every 24 hours. If multiple critical events occur during the 24-hour period, events are reported but no additional data collection occurs.

  • On-Demand—User-driven on an as-needed basis; run an on-demand data collection from the SAN Headquarters Client.

Diagnostic data uploaded by the SAN HQ Server are organized such that support personnel can easily view the data when working on a support case. Dell Support only contacts you regarding issues discovered when analyzing the data collected by SupportAssist or when you specifically request support.

The accumulated data collected by SupportAssist from many PS Series groups lets Dell Support continually update its diagnostic analysis.

SupportAssist Components and Process :


Callout Number

Description

1

PS Series group at Site A (Blue) and Site B (Green)

2

PS Series SAN arrays

3

SAN Networks (Orange)

4

LAN Networks (Purple)

5

SAN Headquarters Servers

6

SAN Headquarters Clients

7

SSL Internet links

8

Internet

9

Secure SupportAssist Web server

10

Dell data center firewall

11

Dell Support and other departments

Data collection is highly secure. Support Assist does not read or gather any user data from storage object such as ISCSI volumes and NAS containers.

Lists the protocols and ports for standard SAN HQ functionality:

Protocol (Port)¹

Description

TCP/IP (8000)

SAN HQ TCP/IP client to server communication. You can modify this port number and host name/IP address on the SAN Headquarters Service Configuration.

HTTP (80)

SAN HQ Client communication to the Web for retrieving Recent Updates information (http://psonlinehelp.equallogic.com).

UDP (514)

Optional. SAN HQ Server communication to the PS Series array, to display syslog entries on the Events and Audits panel.

SNMP/UDP (161)

Communication between the SAN HQ Server and PS Series array for standard data collection.

SSH (22)

Secure Socket Shell communication between the SAN HQ Server and PS Series array, and for the initial SupportAssist configuration.

TCP/IP (2606)

SupportAssist data collection port for communicating with the PS Series array.

HTTPS (443)

SAN HQ Server communication to the Dell Support server for uploading Sup-portAssist data and weekly updates to local repository (including newly-support disks and hardware).

¹For SAN HQ Servers that use a proxy, the ports must be opened for full functionality. Enable an exception to allow https://apwebservice.dell.com for the SupportAssist secure web server.

The performance impact of collecting diagnostic data will vary from one configuration to the next. For the majority of groups operating under normal conditions, you can expect a 5% to 10% performance impact during the relatively short time window when Support Assist collects data. All user passwords are scrubbed before data is uploaded.

Configuration and Setup


You must manually enable these group management features:

  • SNMP—Configure a read-only SNMP community name in the Group Manager GUI’s SNMP options. If you are already monitoring your group with SAN HQ, you do not need to do this.

  • SSH—Enable SSH in the Group Manager GUI’s Administration options. SSH is enabled by default.

 

SAN Headquarters does not store your grpadmin-level credentials, it uses them only once to create a dedicated, read-only group account named autopilot-ro. SupportAssist uses this read-only account to connect to the sanmond daemon that gathers diagnostic data from the PS Series group.

 

Syslog notification—One free IP address slot to configure syslog notification to the SAN Headquarters server. A group can support up to three IP addresses for syslog notification. If all addresses are in use, you must free up an address and specify the SAN Headquarters server instead. This is used to monitor critical events on the PS Series Arrays.

Whenever the scheduled diagnostic data collection fails due to reasons such as the array group is down, network is down, etc … SAN HQ again tries to run de data collection process based on two parameters :

  • Data Collection retry interval

  • Data Collection try count

Test Support Assist by Running an On-Demand Collection:

1. Click the SupportAssist Menu.

2. Select Run Now to open the Wizard.

3. Click one or more check boxes to select PS Series groups, or click the Select all groups button.

4. Click one of the following data transmission options:

- Diagnostic data and SAN HQ archive (default)

- Diagnostic data only

- SAN HQ archive only

5. For a SAN HQ archive, specify a date range for the archive. Options are one day, seven days, or one month.

6. Check the box to allow automatic transmission of diagnostic data to Dell Support for review. This can include SAN HQ archive data.

7. Click Start to begin data collection. Status messages appear in the Status column for each selected group. A progress bar at the bottom of the next screen indicates the status of the data collection and, if selected, transmission. Optionally, click the Run in Background button to close the Wizard while running the on-demand process in the background. You can continue using SAN HQ.

8. When the process completes, click Close to complete the Wizard. (Cancel aborts the data collection job.)

9. Check in activity log if Run on demand success, you can provide the “Payload ID” to tech support for confirmation.

 

Support Assist Activity Log


The Support Assist Activity Log contain a list of recent Support Assist events, for example :

  • On demand collection

  • Event collection/upload

  • Scheduled collection/upload

  • Payload Id

 

It is helpful for the user to know the “payload ID” for the technical support engineer. The technical support engineer will then use this number to look up the Support Assist Data Collection.