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Product support and problem determination using playback via Virtual Machine images

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000181656D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Apr-08
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Apr-08
Document File: 2 page(s) / 28K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Product support and problem determination using playback via Virtual Machine images

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Product support and problem determination using playback via Virtual Machine images

Currently, when a customer reports a software error - the best that support can do is receive a core file (an application's last execution point where a failure occurred) or a system dump (the last execution point of the operating system where a failure occurred) along with some instructions from the customer as to what they did leading up to the failure. Both the core dump and the system dump save the state at the point of failure, and it is up to the support personnel to figure out how to reproduce it. As more and more customers use virtual machines to take advantage of the powerful hardware in their data centers, it would be advantageous if a logging capability could be added, which logs all VM state changes to a disk file outside of the VM's control. If the application fails (or the actual OS fails) then the customer can send a copy of the image, and a copy of the playback log to the support center and developers could watch as the failure as it occurs - and do so repeatedly until the problem was resolved.

The logging would obviously slow down the performance of both the application and the virtual machine. Because of this, if the software error is actually a timing based problem, the logging could in fact mask the error.

The key part of the invention is that there will be visual replay / playback of the events leading up to the application failure (or OS failure). This is conceptually similar in nature to the black boxes that are installed on each aircraft and utilized by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in their crash determination. Adding logging capability in the virtual machine and saving each of the state changes within the machine, gives the capability to replay events and beco...