Archive for the 'OpenManage' Category

iDRAC Enterprise out-of-band remote desktop

A quick call-out and notice of this Dell TechCenter session coming up this afternoon in 75-mins at 3pm Central time.

The TechCenter team will lead a chat session on a new feature of the Dell PowerEdge iDrac that allows VNC protocol for remote display to be added to the iDrac, can be used to remote view the host OS Console from a number of VNC devices including mobile devices with a VNC client. At some stage in the future this will also include innovative Dell WYSE pocketcloud client.

You can join the chat here at 3pm. Here is a longer document on what they’ll be talking about during the session.

More on the Dell PowerEdge VRTX

While my blog is called “Adventures in SystemsLand” while I’ve diverted off to another one of those occasional career tracks that has me working in a non-systems area, it remains something I will continue to post on.

Tomorrow, the Dell Tech Center  are having one of their regular Dell TechChats On The Systems Management Features Of VRTX. It’ starts at 3pm central time.

You’ve seen the announcements of the new VRTX product launch, heard the VRTX Systems Management Overview by Kevin Noreen. and seen the videos so take it one step deeper on feature details with Roger Foreman, Product Manager for the Chassis Management Controller.

Dell TechCenter page –

Introducing PowerEdge VRTX – Direct2Dell Blog

VRTX Product Page –

I’ve put in my calendar and will be listening in, join me.

Dell Enterprise Forum

I watched along with some of the sessions via Live video link, which worked pretty well. Some of the announcements I knew about, updates to Active System Manager, the new Dell PowerEdge VRTX (vertex) solution for home office, remote office. This summary was provided in an internal email of the weeks activities and announcements, but contains all external links, Enjoy!

“This week, Dell brought together more than 1,400 customers, partners, sponsors, team members, media, industry analysts and members of the social media community at Dell Enterprise Forum. At the event, five new enterprise solutions were unveiled alongside the announcement of an expanded partnership with Oracle. Reception to the new converged infrastructure and storage products – including the PowerEdge VRTX, which has already received an Innovative Product award, the new Active Infrastructure 1.1, the Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences and Modular Data Center updates as well as an All Flash Compellent storage array and Storage Center 6.4 – has been favorable across the world.”

New Servers, New Software and more

Dell announced Monday our Dell PowerEdge 12th Generation Servers and always, the hardware garnered much of the interest, it’s tangible and you can see it, as in this picture of my boss and Dell VP/GM of Server Solutions, Forrest Norrod holding up our new 4-up M420 Blade server. However, along side the were a ton of announced and unannounced new features.


The first worth a mention comes from our team, out-of-band management for updating the BIOS and firmware and managing hardware settings—independent of the OS or hypervisor throughout a server’s life cycle, and initial deployment of an OS for a physical server or a hypervisor for a virtual machine. That function is delivered by the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller 7 with Lifecycle Controller (iDRAC7).

It is an all-in-one, out-of-band systems management option to remotely manage Dell PowerEdge servers. In iDRAC7, we have combined hardware enablement capabilities into a single, embedded controller that includes its own processor, power, and network connection and without OS agents, even when the OS or hypervisor isn’t booted. The iDRAC7 architects have worked with marketing to pull together a useful summary of the capabilities, it can be found here.

OpenManage Essentials

The next software initiative announced was the 1.0.1 release of OpenManage Essentials (OME). We listened to customers when it came to management consoles and while a lot of companies liked what we’d been doing and our partnership with Symantec for Dell Management Console, many of our smaller customers, and a few bigger ones wanted a simpler console for monitoring and that was quicker and easier to deploy. OME is it. There is a full OME wiki page here and development lead Rob Cox has summarised the 1.0.1 update here.

OpenManage Power Center

Not formally announced, but covered in slides and some presentations, because it’s linked to some of the advanced power management of our servers. The Fresh Air Initiative, Energy Smart design and the introduction of OpenManage Power Center in our 12th generation servers has the potential to change the way you power and manage the power distributions across servers, racks and more.

Dell Virtual Network Architecture

There is a new wikicovering the announcement of the Dell Virtual Network Architecture, which has at its’ foundation High-performance switching systems for campus and data centers; Virtualized Layer 4-7 services; Comprehensive automation & orchestration software; Open workload/hypervisor interfaces. Our VNA framework aims to extend our current networking and virtualization capabilities across branch, campus and data center environments with an open networking framework for efficient IT infrastructure and workload intelligence. Shane Schick over on IT World Canada has a good summary.

Oh yeah, there was hardware too… Tomothy Prickett Morgan has a useful summary over at vulture central and the Dell summary page is here.

Dell Management Plug-in for VMware vCenter ordering online

Back when we announced this there wasn’t an easy link to order online. We’ve added some tags to the category index that now returns them as part of a standard uri. You can click on this link and go there directly. Note that the usual caveats apply to the prices, discounts, corporate licenses etc. all effect the actual price you pay…

We are working on the HLD for the 2nd release, I’d really like to hear back from anyone that uses or tries it. You can either post here, or email me direct, email address top right.

WSMAN for the masses

Well sort of. We are starting to hear a lot of questions and interest in our implementation of WSMAN on the Dell PowerEdge 11g management products. Chris Poblete, a development engineer in our team has started the first of a series of simple’ish how-to’s on using WSMAN.

You can find Chris’s entries over on the formal Dell Techcenter blogs – the first entry serves and some simple background info, he gets into code in the second and subsequent blogs.

Cote on Consumer to Enterprise

REST Interface slide from Cote presentation

REST Interface slide from Cote presentation

Over on his people over process blog, Redmonk Analyst, Michael Cote, has what is a great idea, a rehersal of an upcoming presentation including slides and audio.

The presentation covers what technology is making the jump from the consumer side of applications and IT into the enterprise. I’m delighted to report Cote has used a quote from me on REST.

For clarification, the work we are doing isn’t directly related to our PowerEdge C-servers, or our cloud services. For that, Dell customer Rackspace cloud has some good REST API‘s and is well ahead of us, in fact I read a lot of their documentation while working on our stuff.

On the other hand, I’m adamant that the work we are doing adding a REST-like set of interfaces to our embedded systems management, is not adding REST API’s. Also, since I did contribute requirements and participate in discussions around WS-* back when I was IBM, I’d say that we were trying to solve an entirely different set of problems, and hence now REST is the right answer, to externalize the data needed for a web based UI.

At the same time, we will also continue to offer a complete implementation of WS Management(WSMAN). WSMAN is a valuable tool to externalize the complexity of a server, in order for it to be managed by an external console or control point. Dell provides the Dell Management Console (DMC) which consumes WSMAN and provides one-to-many server management.

The point of the REST interfaces is to provide a simple way to get data needed to display in a Web UI, we don’t see having to expose all the same data, and can use a much more lightweight infrastructure to process it. At the same time, it’s the objective of this project to keep the UI simple for one-to-one management. Customers who want a more complex management platform will be able to use DMC, or exploit the WSMAN availability.

Back on the blog

Wow, is it really March 2010?? Time has been flying by, I’ve been busy working with the team on a set of REST based UI interfaces for the next generation of PowerEdge embedded management processors, and hope to be able to share more of that work soon. We are also working towards a more open source “appliance” like software stack for our development teams to use to base a number of emerging technology and opportunity areas on. This should yield some interesting developments in the next 24-months.

Of course we get to welcome the KACE team to Dell. Kace bring client side and OS management appliances into our growing customer solutions portfolio. Given their products are specifically focussed on client side management they are a great fit, I’ve not had any involvement with the team yet, but am looking forward to our first meeting to review our appliance development plans.

Bastrop State Park Ride

Riding in Bastrop State Park

I had the opportunity to cycle with Michael Dell prior to the 2010 Dell World Wide Executive meeting, and this was I think the only point I was smiling. Michael rode at a fair pace around the hilly 24-miles we did in Bastrop State Park, and it was the prelude to an exciting meeting where Michael and the team took us through the Dell Transformation, which will again give us the opportunity to focus around some key and core values.

The reason I jumped back on the blog though was that early this morning I got to go look at the latest additions to the PowerEdge 11g server line. The official web site is here and the press release with specific details, here. I was specifically impressed with the PowerEdge R310, which is a 1-socket, 1U server aimed at helping small and medium businesses grow and thrive. It includes Dell’s embedded Lifecycle Controller along with state-of-the-art serviceability and diagnostics with optional interactive LCD. Other features include:

  • RAID configurations to help increase data reliability and/or increase I/O;
  • Choices in operating systems for diverse computing workloads, including Microsoft Windows, Red Hat, Novell SUSE, VMware XenServer and Solaris
  • Energy-optimized technologies, including lower wattage power supplies.

If vou found your way here for the first time via a search engine and want to know more about our embedded management and Systems Management strategy, here is a great starting point in PDF format.

Next up is building out on our Efficient Enterprise strategy, with more details on workload composition and automation.

Use cases for management/consoles

I think I’ve got a pretty good idea how people use consoles and do management for large centralised servers either UNIX or Mainframe based. What I’m quickly learning is that while I can speculate on how organisations would do management and use consoles for x86 servers, there doesn’t seem to be a concensus, or many clear use cases.

As you’ll see in the coming weeks, Dell have worked with partners to come up with some pretty compelling technologies in the management space, and especially in consoles. I can’t claim to have had anything to do with those. However, we are now on the road to make some pretty important decisions on where we go next, what technologies we use, especially in standards, and how we tie a number of the existing threads and product offerings together.

I worked on a similar decision while at IBM, it turned into a pretty vigorous and fractious debate, but unless things have changed since December, they’ll be implementing the broad outline as part of their Power 7 Server rollout.

Now, I could just get Dell lined up to do the same thing. Only I don’t think that would be right for Dell customers, and specifically around x86 rack and row management, and even probably down at the Small business level, although perversly, the proposal for IBM Power would have a lot on interest for SMB customers, but for a whole different set of reasons.

First thing this morning I got invited to listen to AG Lafley, the P&G CEO who is also a member of the Dell board of Directors. He made some interesting observations about being customer driven, it was a refreshing reminder.

So, rather than develop some “best effort” use cases for server management internally, I’d like your help. Would you be willing to send me a chart or diagram that shows how you manage your servers and how you use consoles? I’d like to know how many servers per consolve, connectivity between console and server(s), speed of connection, location of any firewalls etc. How many people need access to the console and so on. Mostly initially though I’m looking for some schematics that show the console, the servers, connectivity, placement of firewalls, secure zones etc.

Feel free to leave a comment here, I’ll email you directly or you can send any questions or diagrams to mark_cathcart at dell dot com .

Dell OpenManage and Dell Managment Console

Not sure how many Dell customers I have for my blog yet since it’s early days, but I just learned from Scott Hanson SystemEdge blog on Direct2Dell that tomorrow, Thursday Jan. 29th at omswebcast11am (central) time, our Executive Briefing center are going to do an hour long demo of the Dell OpenManage  platform management and the shortterm roadmap, as well upcoming Dell Management Console (DMC).

The demo will be rerun a number of times this year, so I know its late notice for Thursday, but you can go here to sign-up for any of the events. The web conferences will use Microsoft Livemeeting.

I’d be really interested in any feedback on OpenManage and DMC. While one of my short term focus items is on the platform and firmware management and structure for the 11g server platform, I’m looking at the longer term 12g platforms, especially their integration with other Dell platforms like EqualLogic but also increasingly partner management platform like EMC, Microsoft and Cisco etc.

If you have any colleagues who work in operations, networking or storage in the x86 space, please pass the link along, and ask them if they have time to leave comments here. Thanks!

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society ( I'm an information technology optimist.

I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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