Dell Server Management

Late last year, i pourchased a number of Dell servers for the Adexis environment… there were delivery hassles etc… but once everything turned up, i racked it and its been reasonably smooth sailing since then….

Couple of things i have found…

1) Dell’s server management tools suck – and suck bad.  Open Manage essentials and OSMA (on the nodes) give me a bit of info – but dont really allow me to do the stuff i want to do (such as check/set bios settings/ilo settings/RAID settings etc). Discovering machines with OME is easy enough, but actually getting them to inventory seems to be another story… ive discovered every device on the network, but none of them will inventory – and yes, the OSMA is on every server and the ports are open.

 Actually finding out which tools i needed in the first place was a hassle, then trying to get around dell’s “ciruclar reference” weblink system which they seem to employ extensively on their webpages took a while, but after you get them installed…. they’re just not very friendly to use or useful….  Hey – i might be missing a component or something that brings it all together… and i am happy to have iDRAC, which is extremely handy…. but the actual mangement tools seem to suck.

2) PERC H700, support for non-dell drives. I didnt think about this one… but after seeing some “!”‘s in the above mentioned sucky management tools, i investigated and found that using a non-dell drive in a system is apparently a warning generating event. Googling around on this finds that it is meant to be the case, intentionally… yes, really. Now there’s an interesteing market protection approach…. and a good way to piss off customers.

Anyhoo – if your reading this, and im wrong – and there is a way to manage the BIOS settings or the PERC H700 or the ILO from windows…. even on a single machine basis (although en-mass would be nice) – or im missing something when it comes to OME, pleae let me know (i tried to register on the dell community to ask these questions and kept getting errors…. but hey, just triued again then, and i can logon…. so ill post back if i find any help)

*edit* – as murphys law would have it – one of the unsupported drives just went into a cycle of “im not going to be recognised anymore…. oh, wait, here i am… now i dont exist anymore etc” which is how the PERC controller seems to handle this unsupported drive…. its awesome.

*edit 2* – Got OME working with some assistance on the dell forums… updating drivers/firmware centrally…. its handy… harder than it needs to be… – i still want to be able to manage everything via windows… i also grabbed the Dell Remote Access Configuration Tool (DRACT), (which doesnt work on x64 without a unsupported work-around – http://b.zhaospace.com/2011/11/how-to-make-dract-run-in-64-bit-system.html) – again, handy – but its not a complete solution.

To sum up – i spose i was expecting more…. more power, better interfaces and easier to use…. dont get me wrong – they definately offer some handy features…. but, like me, i suspect you will find yourself thinking “why is doing <insert task here> this hard?”