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Your servers need Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) : Here is why

There may be instances in which your server goes down and you may need a technician to go to DataCenter and inspect the server. This can cost you both time and money. The fact is you can easily perform this task within minutes using any remote management devices. The primary aim of this article is to focus on Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) which is one of the most widely used remote management device.

IPMI provides the ability to remotely power on, power off, and reboot the server. It also provides a Serial Console and/or Keyboard-Video-Mouse as if you were sitting in front of the physical computer. IPMI uses a secondary network which is completely independent of the main network connection used by the regular users. If you are facing issues in the primary network, you will still be able to access the server via IPMI. It works independently of the operating system and can therefore be used before the Operating System boots up. You can even view the server screen while it is booting up using the remote console in IPMI. The device is password protected and user can’t access the server even though he has managed to access the IPMI’s network. Also, the traffic can be encrypted at hardware level using SSL. This adds to the security of the device. Since, IPMI devices operates on a separate network, an IP address has to be assigned to it.

The common tasks that you can remotely perform using IPMI:

* Remote Console : IPMI provides a remote console which is independent of the Operating System. It will work even if the server is down.

* Hard Reboots : IPMI can be used for hard reboot of the server and power cycling it. A power cycle will cut down the power to the server and then power it up.

* Altering BIOS settings : Since IPMI is independent of the Operating System, we can view the server screen while it is booting up, and alter the BIOS settings similarly to physically sitting in front of the system.

* Reseting the server password

* Monitoring the server via sensors : The sensors installed along with IPMI will provide vital information like CPU temperature, fan speed, power fluctuations etc. An event log is also available along with IPMI which will log events like power failures and BIOS generated events.

* Operating system installation

* Create sub accounts with limited privileges for the customers to perform basic tasks like server reboot.

An alternative technology for IPMI is KVM over IP switches (also known as IP KVM switches). But it is a bit more costly and doesn’t provide an option to mount a virtual drive. Intel Active Management Technology also facilitates remote management. But, it can be installed only with specific processors and the feature set is limited.

IPMI has its own variants that are customized by different vendors. The most common ones are Dell IDRAC and HP Integrated Lights-Out (ILO). Both provide almost same features and the performance. The cost varies according to the specifications of the IPMI card.

Most of the new servers have in built IPMI cards. Installing IPMI cards in a server is a fairly straight forward procedure. You will have to power down the server and plug in the IPMI card. Then boot the server from the installation CD and make the changes to BIOS as mentioned by the provider. An IP address is assigned to the IPMI device as it uses a different network. Since IPMI is independent of the Operating System, no specific software is required to be running in the server unless you wish for a graceful reboot option.

The above is a very rough outline of the IPMI service we provide, and if you have any questions, we would be happy to talk to you! 🙂

About the Author :

Dipin D works as a Software Engineer in Bobcares. He joined Bobcares in September 2010. He loves reading books and listening to music in his free time.

Blog edited by :

Vivek Kumar works as a Software Engineer in Bobcares. He joined Bobcares in April 2011. He loves to watch movies in his free time.





Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.