SBS 2003 hardware management with RILIO from HP

Hiya gang – I am the publisher of the Advanced Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 book and I like to hold virtual book reading. So try this one – we discuss the infamous RILIO board from HP on its SBS-specific servers. BTW – did you know that my SBS 2008 book is know here!

Hardware Management

Because it’s important to maintain the health of the server, HP’s ProLiant comes with a number of software applications that you won’t find on a desktop machine. Consider a comparison between a Formula 1 race car and an old work truck. The race car sports a lot more in the way of telemetry to monitor its high-speed, low-drag status as it runs lap after lap around the track. The truck, outfitted with a consumer engine and driven more conservatively, doesn’t need all of that fancy instrumentation.


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HP’s “telemetry package” is comprised of several separate applications that come together to provide the following: proactive notification of problems before those problems turn into unscheduled down time; Web browser-based management agents for monitoring server and client instrumentation; simplified initial server setup; and, in some of the more advanced servers, integrated remote management functionality.

Systems Insight Manager

The backbone of HP’s management package, Systems Insight Manager compliments the management features of Windows Server 2003 to deliver fault, configuration, performance, and asset management for both HP servers and connected clients. The idea here is to consolidate support for a breadth of hardware platforms and software infrastructures, in order to minimize the amount of maintenance dirty work with which you’re forced to contend. In the SMB environment, you probably won’t need to rely heavily on Systems Insight Manager, though the application’s software baseline feature might prove useful for keeping important software updates uniform across clients on your network.

SmartStart

Remember those Windows installation screens a few pages back where I demonstrated (with matter-of-fact setup errors) the caveats to using cutting- edge hardware? Well, SmartStart alleviates those problems with ProLiant support packs—optimized drivers that are distributed in operating system–specific bundles. A number of system maintenance utilities are also included under the SmartStart banner.Finally, there’s an online component of SmartStart that includes notifications of updated firmware and driver software.

Integrated Lights-Out (iLO)

One of the most exciting features of HP’s higher-end server families (a number of the DL-class machines and HP’s ML 370, for example) is Integrated Lights- Out (iLO) Advanced, a remote management package built onto the server itself. Learning about this package while writing this chapter was akin to hitting pay dirt. Finally with this package I see hardware in the SBS equation being addressed from a wholistic systems approach, because this technology (as well as the RILOE II technology that I discuss in the next section) adds hardware-level mobile management to the picture, to a limited degree.

 

 

 

Visit www.smbnation.com for additional SMB and SBS book, newsletter and conference resources.

 

 

 

 


CHAPTER Chaper 2 1 So Understanding You Want to Hardwre Be an in SMB the SBS Consultant?!?! Environment

Especially useful for businesses that don’t have the budget for dedicated IT, iLO allows you to take remote control of a properly equipped server at the hardware level, before it even boots into Windows Server 2003. The embedded iLO processor enables a virtual graphical remote console with full control of the troubled server’s video, keyboard, and mouse, including the ability to remotely boot from a local floppy or CD-ROM drive recognized as virtual media.

Once the server is booted into Windows, iLO hands off management responsibilities to Terminal Services, part of Windows Server 2003. The remote desktop functionality provided by Terminal Services is very similar to iLO’s graphic console, granting you control over the remote server for off-site service.

Naturally, iLO has tremendous implications for those of you who preside over SBS networks and their clients. Not only does it enable further reach (you won’t need to drive two hours to service those distant clients), saving both time and money, but clients with iLO-equipped servers will enjoy less down time, since you as the consultant can be more responsive. And, when a new service pack or security bulletin hits the wires, you can apply updates remotely using iLO ’s virtual media feature.

Visit http://h18013.www1.hp.com/products/servers/management/riloe2/ supported-servers.html, HP’s iLO Advanced Support page for a list of compatible servers.

Remote Insight Lights-Out Edition II (RILOE II)

Those servers that are not equipped with iLO may attain similar functionality through Remote Insight Lights-Out Edition II (RILOE II), a PCI-based hardware solution. The principal difference between the two, according to Ray Nix with HP’s embedded management marketing department, is that because RILOE II is based on its own graphics chip and PowerPC processor, it provides enhanced console performance. (Ray was very helpful when I was researching this functionality, for which I thank him!) Moreover, once the server loads Windows Server 2003, it is no longer dependant on Terminal Services, opening up the possibility of accessing the server from Red Hat or SUSE Linux, as well.

The RILOE II kit includes the card itself, an external power adapter, power cables, a keyboard and mouse adapter, the virtual power button cable, and support CDs. The power adapter enables uninterrupted access to the RILOE board, even when the server is turned off. Or, you can elect to connect RILOE to an


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internal motherboard header, which serves the same purpose, enabling the Virtual Power Button for graceful shutdowns and startups. Support for virtual media is another invaluable addition. Using a floppy or CD image located anywhere on the network (it doesn’t necessarily have to be localized), you can install applications, including the all-important patches and security updates, can perform disaster recovery of failed operating systems, and can deploy an entirely new installation, all through the 128-bit encrypted graphical console. Figure 2- 21 shows the naked RILOE II board in all of its glory.

Figure 2-21

RILOE II is a full-length PCI card that includes all of the necessary functionality to enable remote management.

 

 

The RILOE II card features its own 10/100 Mbps network interface for dedicated access to the server, and can provide real-time Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) notifications in the event of a server problem. Moreover, RILOE is even accessible through wireless and dial-up connections through an iPAQ Pocket PC with its own special browser interface. And if you don’t have access to the SMB’s LAN or WAN, RILOE supports access over a standard 56k


CHAPTER Chaper 2 1 So Understanding You Want to Hardwre Be an in SMB the SBS Consultant?!?! Environment

modem using a modem gateway or Microsoft’s Remote Access Service (RAS). Unfortunately, I find that the access limitation reduces the RILOE II card’s viability somewhat in an SBS environment because the bandwidth of a 56k connection isn’t sufficient to perform a remote operating system deployment or large Service Pack update from localized virtual media. I’d recommend weighing the cost of RILOE with its real-world benefits.

As with iLO, RILOE II maximizes productivity through reduced server down time for SMB clients, minimal on-site interaction (of course, any hardware upgrades will have to be physically performed), and cost savings on both sides of the equation. Fortunately, the card has come down in price since it initially debuted, and can now be added for about $400.

BEST PRACTICE: At $400, RILOE II is still a notable investment, so be sure to evaluate its usefulness on a case by case basis. Most SMBs aren’t going to be running WANs. As a result, the amount of management that RILOE II would enable will likely be dictated by the bandwidth of the connection used to access the card.

cheers….harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here! J

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