Dell PowerEdge Server- All About Dell PowerEdge Server.

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Dell PowerEdge is a server line by Dell, following the naming convention for other dell products: the PowerVault (data storage) and the PowerConnect (data transfer & switches).

Below is an overview of current and former servers within Dell’s PowerEdge product line. Different models are or were available as towers, 19-inch racks or blades. In the current naming scheme, towers are designated by T, racks by R, and blades by M (for modular).[1] The 19″ rack-servers come in different physical heights expressed in rack unit or U. Most modern servers are either 1U or 2U high while in the past the 4U was more common




What is DRAC?

The DellTM  Remote Assistant Card II (DRAC II) and Dell Remote Access Card III (DRAC III) provide IT administrators with continuous access to servers. Administrators also achieve full control of the server hardware and operating system from any client system running a Web browser, even if the server is down or hung.

The Dell remote-access architecture consists of hardware and software components that allow administrators to do the following:

  • Access a server after a server failure, power outage, or loss of a network connection (using a network interface card (NIC) or modem)
  • Remotely view a server’s internal event logs and power-on self test (POST) codes for diagnostic purposes
  • Manage servers in multiple locations from a remote console
  • Manage servers by redirecting the console output to a remote console (graphic and text)
  • Perform an orderly shutdown of a server for maintenance tasks
  • Diagnose a server failure and restart the server
  • Alert the administrator using alphanumeric page, numeric page, e-mail, or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) trap when a server detects an error

Hardware to enable remote access

DRACs are peripheral component interconnect (PCI) cards that work with the Embedded Server Management (ESM) chip on the server motherboard. Figure 1 illustrates a typical system architecture using DRACs.

Figure 1. Typical system architecture using DRACs
Figure 1. Typical system architecture using DRACs

DRAC II occupies a single, full-length PCI slot. In addition to the processor, the card includes 16 MB of memory, flash RAM/nonvolatile random access memory (NV-RAM), onboard NIC for 10 Mbps Ethernet, PC Card interface, PCI controller, battery, real-time clock, and ESM2 connector.

DRAC II is compatible with Dell PowerEdgeTM  x3xx, x4xx, and x5xx servers (2300, 4300, 6300, 2350, 4350, 6350, 2400, 4400, 6400, 2450, 6450, 2500, and 2550). The software necessary to use DRAC II is incorporated into the Dell OpenManageTM  IT Assistant that ships with every Dell server.

DRAC III is a half-length PCI card that requires one 33 MHz, 32-bit PCI slot. It provides 16 MB of memory, 8 MB flash RAM/NV-RAM, onboard NIC for 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, one serial interface, battery, real-time clock, and ESM3 connector. The card may optionally include a PCMCIA modem and AC power adapter. Figure 2 illustrates the DRAC III components.

Figure 2. DRAC III components
Figure 2. DRAC III components

DRAC III is compatible with PowerEdge 1650 and 4600 servers and the PowerEdge 7150. These systems are based on a standard hardware implementation called Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), which allows Dell to bring remote management capabilities to market at a lower cost.

DRAC III allows up to 16 administrators to access the same card simultaneously; four administrators may use console redirection. This improvement in access allows administrators to work together from different locations to isolate problems more quickly.

DRACs are not cross-compatible: DRAC III cannot be used in DRAC II systems and vice versa.

Software to enable remote access

Dell OpenManage Server Administrator installs the driver and supplies both a graphical user interface (GUI) and command-line interface (CLI) to set up and use DRAC III. Server Administrator is not used to manage DRAC II.

Server Administrator installs and manages one server at a time. The Remote Access function (provided in Server Administrator 1.1) lets administrators install and update the remote-access software, configure the remote-access architecture, and remotely access the server while it is operational.

Dell OpenManage IT Assistant can configure and launch access to DRAC II and DRAC III. OpenManage IT Assistant lets administrators remotely access an operating or non-operating server in context.

Figure 3 highlights the hardware and software required for DRAC II and DRAC III.

Figure 3. Requirements for DRAC II and DRAC III
Figure 3. Requirements for DRAC II and DRAC III

Capabilities of DRAC II and DRAC III

DRAC II and DRAC III enable several monitoring and notification capabilities, facilitate diagnostics, provide mechanisms for remote operations, and offer various connection and backup alternatives. Unless specified otherwise, both DRAC II and DRAC III include the following capabilities.

SNMP support. SNMP provides a standard message format to notify the administrator of server problems. DRAC can send notices, even if the server is down, to most of the industry’s leading consoles.

Ability to monitor server health. DRAC monitors the health of the hardware to identify any failures and provide the administrator with information to isolate components with problems. This capability enables faster troubleshooting of operational and non-operational servers and potentially yields higher availability.

Alphanumeric and numeric paging. Wireless devices immediately notify administrators of server problems or failure.

E-mail support. Mail systems provide immediate notification of server problems or failure.

Review of hardware logs. DRAC provides access to data showing the state of the hardware and any errors that may have been logged. These logs are the best source of hardware data and help to troubleshoot problems, potentially yielding higher availability.

Access to hardware sensors. DRAC provides readouts on all sensors including power, fans, disks, temperature, and voltage. Administrators can ascertain the server’s condition regardless of the state of the operating system.

Boot path analysis. DRAC III lets administrators determine whether any failures occurred during the boot sequence using boot path analysis, which displays the success or failure of POSTs as the server comes up (see Figure 4 ). This capability helps administrators to identify the status of the components before the operating system is operational. Any errors in the boot path may be the source of why a server might not boot. By identifying the component early and isolating problems quickly, administrators may be able to reduce downtime.

Figure 4. Boot path analysis
Figure 4. Boot path analysis





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