As a network engineer, I’m surprised how often other engineers ask what Cisco GOLD diagnostics entail.  Customers also specifically request GOLD test results but appear not to understand what they actually are.

Cisco defines GOLD as “a platform-independent, distributed framework that provides common command-line interface and scheduling for runtime diagnostics”. GOLD is part of the run-time OS in various Cisco platforms and can be found on Catalyst 3750, 4500 & 6500 series switches and high end routers.  GOLD is available in specific releases of IOS, CATOS and IOS XR.

GOLD provides diagnostic capabilities during boot-up, background health monitoring and has the ability to run on-demand diagnostics and scheduled diagnostics.  GOLD can detect faults in hardware and provide the triggers to proactively engage high-availability features and actions such as switchover of modules or turning off modules or individual ports. The GOLD test suite also gives support personnel the tools to test the functioning of hardware modules and troubleshoot down to the field-replaceable unit level.

GOLD can detect software problems too but it has ultimately been designed to detect hardware problems.  It is worth remembering that some tests that are very disruptive in nature, for example, for memory tests, GOLD will access the hardware directly.

It is important to understand how GOLD reports the results and errors found.  GOLD logs the results in the local buffer (non-persistent), writes to syslog, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and also reports to the Cisco IOS Embedded Event Manager (EEM).  The “show diagnostics result all” command will help you display the results of the diagnostics tests.

Engineers and customers are beginning to understand that issuing a diagnostic start command triggers on-demand diagnostics tests statically.  This allows the engineer to specify how many times a test runs and whether to continue running the test upon failure detection.

If I had to summarise to a customer in one sentence what is Cisco GOLD is, I would reply “GOLD is useful primarily as a troubleshooting tool to verify hardware functions when a network engineer suspects a hardware fault.”