Archive for the 'PowerEdge' 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.

Der Spiegel Article Regarding NSA TAO Organization

As I know from search engine referrals to my blog a lot of readers arrive here for searches on firmware, open source and security, I thought it worth adding a link to point to the official Dell Corporate response to the current concerns on the Der Spiegel report.

This mirrors and was my experience.

Configure PowerEdge Servers with iDRAC and XML

For those still reading from my days in the firmware, PowerEdge development team. Peter Tsai and the TechCenter team are hosting a chat later today on the The Dell iDRAC7 (Dell Remote Access Controller) ability to allow you to configure and manage Dell PowerEdge servers through the iDRAC’s Config XML functionality. Using ConfigXML, you can also tweak XML files to make configuration changes to one or many PowerEdge servers at the same time.

You can join the chat here. If you arrived here after 3pm Central on November 5th, or want to do some pre-reading, you might find this a good place to start.

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 – Del.ly/VRTX

Introducing PowerEdge VRTX – Direct2Dell Blog

VRTX Product Page – http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/poweredge-vrtx/pd

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.”

QR Codes and PowerEdge 12g servers

One of the things that is great about the new 12g hardware is the innovative use of QR Codes for service and support. It’s one of those “aha” moments where something that seems so obvious just works. Congratulations to Kevin and the ID team that pulled this together. The youtube video explains it all. 

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.

iDRAC7

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.

el Reg Disco

There was a piece over on the Register by Timothy Prickett Morgan on options for Cisco and Dell merging, it was the suggestion that the merged company be called Disco that actually caught my attention! As I said in the online comments, “My commenting on this article doesn’t reflect any personal or business support or endorsement of the views expressed[by Timothy Prickett Morgan or The Register]”.

I made a typical mistake when speed reading an article just before leaving for the day, in my comments I made a few minor typing mistakes. So, here is the corrected version of what I should have sent.

“It’s a shame that so many of you feel Dell doesn’t do research, or even build it’s own servers, I understand why, but it’s simply not the case(excuse the pun) anymore. I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I jumped ship from IBM to come to Dell, but what I found was a dedicated and skilled hardware team who design the motherboards, the interconnects, how the components interact, drive standards adoption, and design hardware packaging, placement, cooling and some innovative features into the servers in both hardware and management.

Yes, the servers are assembled with a lot of industry standard parts, but the way they are designed is pure Dell; the layout is Dell and we drive the component manufacturers to innovate to meet our specifications. And yes, many are assembled outside of a Dell owned facility. This isn’t your fathers Dell though

I’m sure all those commenting have prior experience, but we are a different company today, working hard to deliver on some key technology innovations. Our DCS, PowerEdge-C servers are 2nd to none in the cloud server space, we’ve also got some great servers optimized for the enterprise and virtualization space including the PowerEdge R910 and the PowerEdge AMD based R815, being two of my favorites. We are doing the same thing in some key industry verticals and software segments, in order to help drive down industry prices and keep competition open.

Less you think this was really an anonymous post by some bland marketing or PR person, it wasn’t. I’m Mark Cathcart, one of Dells Distinguished Engineers and Director of Systems Engineering; and no, I didn’t get this comment approved or proof read before I posted it.

You can find my blog with an email address at https://cathcam.wordpress.com with an email address if you have specific problems or concerns about anything I’ve written.

My commenting on this article doesn’t reflect any personal or business support or endorsement of the views expressed, I was just attracted by the concept of working at a Disco again, its been 36-years since the last time ;-)”

Dell Embedded Systems Management updates

Over at the Dell TechCenter, Peter Tsai has posted a great update on some of the features of the latest firmware updates to the Dell Blade Chasis Management Controller 3.2 including 10gb Ethernet support and enablement; LifeCycle Controller 1.5 updates including complete out-of-band backup and restore, and config management support for Converged Network Adapters; and finally iDrac 1.6 updates.

Head over to the TechCenter page for the complete list of features plus a link to some new whitepapers. I have to say though, the best reason to head over there is to watch the video they did of the new LifeCycle controller feature to backup and restore feature during a motherboard replacement. The LC features uses WS-MAN to completely take a copy of all the configuration, drivers etc. so that when the motherboard is replaced it can be restored along with the Broadcom Nic, PERC and ServiceTag and Asset Tag making it in essence indistinguishable from the original. Brilliant.

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.

Plug-in, turn off..

Plug-in, turn-off

Plug-in, turn-off

Work on the full VIS Unified automation and orchestration engine continues apace here in Round Rock, one of the first fruits on the Dev. teams efforts was announced this week, the Dell Management Plug-In for VMware vCenter.

In essence what it does is rather than require an additional console to manage, monitor hardware, it integrates the management for Dell PowerEdge servers directly into VMware vCenter so it can be access directly from there.

We’ll be leveraging this technology as a core component in VIS Unified, it’s got a solid delivery off a well thought through programming spec. and has already received numerous positive reviews. There is a good review here, along with some screen shots that will give you an idea of what the product does. Any questions, let me know.

What’s on your glass?

James Governor, @monkchips, makes some great points about UI design in his latest blog post. James discusses how Adobe is changing it’s toolchain to better support, endorse HTML5 and how open is a growth accelerator, not just a philosophical perspective. He get’s a useful plug in for the Dell Streak, and it as a piece of glass too 😉

I’ve alluded to it here before, we are heading in the same direction for both our PowerEdge 12g Lifecycle Controller and iDrac UI for one to one management of our servers; also for the simplified UI for the Virtual Integrated System, aka VIS. Flash/Flex/Silverlight had their time, they solved problems that at the time couldn’t be solved any other way. However, it was clear to me and I suspect to all those involved in the HTML5 standards efforts, that we were headed down a dead end of walled gardens“. What put this in perspective for me wasn’t James’ post, but one from fellow Redmonk, Cote, last year in which he discussed the web UI landscape.

Web UI Landscape by Cote of Redmonk

The details actually were not important, Cote ostentatiously discussing Apache Pivot, summarizes by saying “Closed source GUI frameworks have a tough time at it now-a-days, where-as open source ones by virtue of being free and open, potentially have an easier time to dig into the minds of Java developers.”

 

But really, it was the diagram that accompanied the article for me. It laid it the options as a flower, and as we know, flowers are grown in gardens, in this case, each was being cultivated in its’ own walled garden.

I cancelled the FLASH/WSMAN[1] proof of concept we’d built for the gen-next UI, and decided the right move was to adopt a more traditional MVC-like approach using open standards for our UI strategy.

We don’t have a commitment yet to deliver or exploit HTML5, but we’ve already adopted a REST style using HTTP for browser and HTML clients to interact with a number of our products, using Javascript and JSON and building towards having a foundation of re-useable UI artifacts. Off the back of this we’ve already seen some useful Android pilots.

Which takes us back to James post. He summarizes with “If the world of the API-driven web has taught us anything its that you can’t second guess User Interfaces. Someone else will always build one better. If you’re only allowing for deployment on one platform that cuts you off from innovation.” – Right on the money.

DISCLOSURE:
Redmonk are providing technology analysis for Dells Virtual Integrated System; James and I have professional contacts since 1996.

NOTES:
[1]WSMAN remains our key technology implementation for external partners and consoles to use to get information from the servers, and to send updates etc.

VIS from the top

Michael Dell recently spoke at the 2010 Gartner conference. One of the questions he was asked was about the evolutionary and revolutionary approaches to IT, most recently amplified by the cloud discussion. Michael nails it when discussing the Dell approach with our Data Center Solutions business, our PowerEdge C servers and the Virtual Integrated System aka VIS.

Blades a go-go in Austin

We’ve been working on some interesting technology prototypes of our common software architecture. It forms the core of the “Maverick” virtualization solution, the orchestrator for the Dell Virtual Integrated System(VIS).[More on this in a follow-on post].

We have a far reaching outlook for the common software architecture including embedded systems. One thing I’ve been looking at is creating a top-of-rack switch, with an embedded management server. We demonstrated it to Michael Dell and the Executive Leadership Team on Monday to show them where we are with software.

The same stack and applications for the next generation Blade Chasis Management Controller (CMC). For VIS, we are building a set of “adjacency” services so that it can scale to thousands of physical servers. So it was with some interest when I saw this piece in the Austin American Statesman, our “local” paper. It covers the new $9 million supercomputer at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas, to be installed next year.

The newest “Lonestar” system will be built and deployed by the Texas Advanced Computing Center; it’s expected to be operational by February 2011 and will will include 1,888 M610 PowerEdge Blade servers from Dell Inc., each with two six-core Intel X5600 Westmere processors.

Our VP of Global higher education, John Mullen, was quoted as saying “The system will be built on open-system architecture, which means it can be expanded as needed, that’s a cost-effective switch from proprietary systems of the past.”

Another coincidence for me, the entrance to the J.J. Pickles campus is right opposite the entrance to my old IBM office on Braker Lance, proving once again that old adage, as one do closes, another opens.

How do you find features available in WSMAN ?

Chris Poblete has published the 2nd in his series on how to use WSMAN with our PowerEdge 11g servers, it can be found on Dell Techcenter, here.

In the 2nd post, Chris shows how to use openweman CLI tool in Linux to enumerate through the profile registration classes (CIM_RegisteredProfile) to find out what features are available. His 1st post, and introduction, can be found here.


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 (bsc.org) 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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