The methodology and concept of the popular 48-hour burn test®, now in its tenth year, is the brainchild of Mohamed Mawji, technical director at eAegis®. Designed and first implemented in 2004 for Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers, it was a first of its kind in the industry. The methodology and terms were licensed and trademarked later in 2009 as unique service for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) storage space. The burn testing service was designed for customers ordering complete NAS servers pre-built with hard disk drives. The service caught on very quickly and became hugely popular, as it eliminated systems from being either dead on arrival or simply faulty.
We have, due to popular demand, decided to publish a concise overview of our 48-hour burn testing process.
Our initial intention was very clear. We required all NAS servers pre-built to leave our testing rig with zero faults and for this to continue once deployed. The brief quickly evolved to include setting Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) and be ready to use out of the box.
The crux of the testing methodology is a two-step approach. The initial Quality Assurance (QA) focuses on visual and software coverage to ensure the operational and specification aspects align with the manufacturing guidelines as well as hardware component testing and rigorous component integration testing with verification of compatibility. Failure at this stage of examination may render the particular product dead on arrival to be returned back to base.
The next step in the process allows us to examine and test all relevant ports, followed by a comprehensive firmware test that also provides versioning verification. We may decide to keep a current version if the newer version is relatively new and untested. Testing for enclosure services kick in next, and these are designed to ensure all is as expected. These are closely followed by a series of 12 passes of 12 different Input and Output (I/O) pattern testing, which take the form of being both random and sequential in nature. One of the main reasons for the deployment of this test is to challenge the storage controller schema to undergo a vigorous and punishing integrity check as well as the on-board RAID/HDD controller coupled with the hard disk drives contained within the unit. The time span is the most demanding for this part of the test, as each completed pattern can take up to 2 hours at a minimum, only fluctuating by the capacity of the drives and controller type installed.
Upon successful completion, the system is then configured as ordered, and the drives are initialized for the specified RAID levels. This is followed by our in-house designed disk RAID utility that will test the installed default controller settings and hard disk drives in the completely configured RAID environment.
During the entire QA, configuration and burn-in processes, a complete log (for engineering purposes only) of all components and processes are monitored to determine if there are any failures or indicative signs of impending failures.
We have also developed a neat feature that has automated our integrity testing aspect of our 48-hour burn. We have developed a series of in-house testing utilities to implement our complete total quality management (TQM) initiative. One of which is a neat utility called automated night testing (ANT) that automatically builds our software every night and is then downloaded to the NAS units to facilitate a series of functional test routines. This in turn provides a quick synopsis of possible errors, if any, in order to allow us to address these issues quickly and efficiently. The upside to our designing and implementing testing practices for NAS systems we provide has culminated in our customers receiving units that work right out of the box. Downtime is an expensive and unwanted affair irrespective of the product lifecycle.
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