FC-TAPE/Tape Alert

Stewart Wyatt stewart at hpbs3928.boi.hp.com
Thu Jul 16 16:05:09 PDT 1998

* From the T10 (formerly SCSI) Reflector (t10 at symbios.com), posted by:
* Stewart Wyatt <stewart at hpbs3928.boi.hp.com>

There was an agenda item at the FC-TAPE meeting in Portland, Maine, to consider 
adding support for tape alert.  I took two action items. The first was to post
the URL for the tape alert proposal.  This posting includes a brief discussion 
of tape alert and where on the web to obtain more information.  The second 
action item was to arrange to have a tape alert representative at the meeting
in Portsmouth, UK.  Stephen Gold has agreed to attend, make his request and 
answer questions.

Stewart Wyatt


Until recently, there had been no reliable standard way to identify errors 
and potential problems that may compromise the effectiveness or reliability
of data protection solutions. The problem was that access to low-level
diagnostic information was via vendor-unique and technology-unique commands,
and even if the information could be extracted it could not be reliably
interpreted by the software.

So about 2 years ago, Hewlett-Packard developed a new interface for tape
drive diagnostics and management called TapeAlert, utilising a currently
unused Log Sense page code 0x2E. This new interface was subsequently made
available to all other tape device vendors, and an industry Working Group
was formed to own the specification and future enhancements. The TapeAlert
interface is now endorsed and shipping by the vast majority of tape vendors,
including Hewlett-Packard, Seagate, Quantum, Tecmar, Tandberg, Breece Hill,
StorageTek, ATL, and many others. Software support for this interface is
also available across many software vendors, such as Computer Associates,
Seagate Software, Stac, Hewlett-Packard, and more to follow.

The main aim of TapeAlert was to provide a standard high-level interface
where the device could indicate standard error conditions in the device
hardware and media to the application software using the device. The
application software actions would also be defined so that standard easy to
understand error messages would be displayed for each error condition. Such 
a diagnostic system benefits both consumers/users and manufacturers. For
consumers/users, there is now a standard method to monitor and maintain tape
devices with standard easy to understand error messages, regardless of which
tape drive or application software they are using. For manufacturers, there
should be a reduction in support calls since the users are now being
immediately informed what to do in event of problems, and advanced
diagnostics can be provided by the application software without needing
device-specific knowledge.

More details on the TapeAlert interface can be found at
There is also a private area for the TapeAlert Working Group contain meeting
minutes etc, which can be found in the Working Group section of the main
TapeAlert Web site. The access to this private area is:
	username:	TapeAlert
	password:	excal1ber
The latest version of the TapeAlert specification can be found as HTML in
the private Working Group area, or downloaded as a Word97 file:

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