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Review of Remote Management Systems

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Dell DRAC

ALOM Setup
Troubleshooting Remote Autonomous Servers Configuring Low End Authonomous Servers Review of Remote Management Systems     System Management

Typical problems with IT infrastructure

Heterogeneous Unix server farms Working with serial console Sysadmin Horror Stories Humor Etc

Managing servers from a remote location is often mandatory in today's large enterprise environment. IT administrators must be able to manage servers in secure data centers or in locations that have no or minimal administrative IT staff. Such scenarios require remotely performing all server management operations and responding to server-down situations.

Dell Drac

Dell has superior capabilities with Dell Remote Access Controller 5 (DRAC 5) which is an optional PCI card ($299) which comes with its own processor, graphics chipset and network port. With full administrative access, you can shut down the OS, recycle power and turn off or switch the server back on.  It also support virtual floppy and CD-ROM. That means that the system can be booted from an image stored on another system. 

DRAC 5 is more capable then Sun ALOM: along with CLI interface DRAC firmware has an embedded Web server so that you can connect to it from a any PC that has a Web browser. Web browser interface works very similar to VNC but currently in working with linux it has problems with mouse: it is quirky and not very pleasant to use. Also unlike working with Windows you see two mouse pointers:  one for "external world" and the other for "internal world" (if you connect to Windows server those two mouses are merge into one all the time).  That creates quite a lot of confusion as as moving "wrong cursor" and clicking on it can result in unpredictable behavior if "right cursor"  accidentally also was position of some kind of button or menu.

But to be fair you need to understand that this is a recovery console,  not your every daytool (although it can be used as such);  so standards are more relaxed here and the fact that it works with GUI is a significant advantage.  It, for example, greatly simplifies reconfiguration of network after server move as you can use RHEL GUI widgets for that (much like in Windows) and do not need to remember all the intricacies of linux command line commands like ifconfig that are slightly different from classic Solaris version (FSF behaves a lot like Microsoft in the area preaching a variant of "divide and counker" theme for software world -- embrace and extend; see GNU echo parody).

Dell also have integrated deployment and change management solution called Dell OpenManage 5.0. With DRAC5 it delivers comprehensive hardware deployment, monitoring and management with features including [Itreseller2006]:

 

Sun ALOM

Sun X4100 servers have built it network management port with secure remote access using Web Interface over SSL or CLI over SSH. They support full lights-out remote management using remote keyboard and mouse, remote CD/DVD-ROM and remote graphics. Sun's integrated service processor (iLOM) is very capable. You also get 4 gigabit Ethernet ports plus a dedicated 10/100 for the iLOM, plus you have two PCI-X Low Profile slots, redundant power supplies, redundant hot-swap fans, etc.  To save energy default configuration of T1000 does not have CDROM drive or video card so you need to use Jumpstart. Also Sun N1 System Manager is free and increases the value of the system: it really simplifies hardware monitoring and software deployment.

All UltraSparc servers has Sun Advanced Lights Out Manager (ALOM). The ALOM System Controller hardware is embedded in the server and functions completely independently as a separate embedded computer. The ALOM can monitor hardware status, perform hardware resets, power on and off, and can send e-mail if alarms are triggered.  You can switch between the ALOM Command Shell and the OpenBoot PROM Prompt. To switch to ALOM, type #. (pound-period) on a serial console. After that you can configure your management network interface and many other parameters.   The network interface variables specify the network settings that ALOM uses across its Ethernet connection at the network management (NET MGT) port on the server. ALOM functions allow for monitoring, logging, alerting and for basic control of the system. ALOM is particularly useful for remotely managing a server in a typical "lights out" environment. Version 1.5.5 provides out-of-box  network management interface that includes [Sun2006b]:

Please note that virtual CDROM capability is absent and that's an important deficiency. You can use Jumpstart instead. Also, admins can run Sun Management Center (MC) on a system that has a graphics card and administer the server remotely that way. The MC provides a centralized GUI for most administrative functions through a Web interface, and integrates with the ALOM for hardware control when the proper agents are installed.

Custom Automated Installation

There are still advanced administrative technologies that are more commonly used in large corporate IT then in startups (outside ISPs). One of them is custom automated installation. This area is represented by Jumpstart in Solaris and its Red Hat clone Kickstart.  The latter was first released with RedHat Linux version 5 in 1998 (not documented) and later was also implemented in Suse. Both Jumpstart and Kickstart permit automation of key elements of installation process including but not limited to:

Solaris Jumpstart has also a variant called webstart in which you can create an image of the system and them replicate it on as many systems as you wish, introducing customarization on the level of already fully configured system. The image of the system is called flash archive and it can be installed. I do not know about similar capabilities of Kickstart.

Flash archive are a very important productivity tool and can save 80% of the time in replication of complex server setups to remote locations.



Etc

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


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Last modified: April, 18, 2018