Friday, 8 July 2011

Providing IT Support – Out-of-Band Management Required

A paraphrase of a post to the SBS2K Yahoo Group.

In our opinion a server should _never_ be deployed without iDRAC Enterprise, iLO Advanced, Intel RMM, or other out-of-band (OOB) device. Period.

Professional grade tools for professionals.

We get:

  • KVM, USB, and drive redirection to the server.
  • BIOS, Firmware, RAID BIOS, etc access.
  • BMC Management and sensor logs/data.
  • Power cycle and reset ability (frozen OS).
  • At-a-glance view of all firmware versions.

What this does for us:

  • Immediate access to the _console_
  • No travel time delays ... response is quick.
  • No need for client intervention in most cases.

When patching or working on servers we create two connections to the box. One via RD Gateway and one via OOB. It is our preference to have physical access to that box at all times.

With the lack of a speaker on the Dell PERC RAID controllers and Open Manage may or may not e-mailing us about a failed drive we prefer to watch all reboot cycles for any anomalies.

If there is a failure, we can recover that server without any client intervention after the tier 1 tech has done their stuff.

I am sorry, but there is something totally unprofessional about, "I am sorry Mr. Customer, but could you sit at the server and see why I am locked out?" Or having to call a client’s user or contact in before or after business hours to find out why something broke. As IT Professionals we need to set the bar higher than that.

With gas at $1.10/Litre (US Gal = 3.78L, IMP Gal = 4.54L) here and rising at this time _not_ having to travel to client sites for out of scope work is a great thing.


Because they then _do_ see us when we are there for _positive_ things like rotating their backups or our bi-weekly "how are things?" visit (billable as soon as they say, "Can you fix this?" :*) ).

This aspect more than reinforces our _good_ presence in their business. Thus it strengthens our business relationship with our client contact and their users as we are seen and heard when things are good.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer


Seanpt said...

It wasn't until I started following your blog that I started looking into the iDRAC offerings from Dell. Their sales reps, even the server specialty people, do a really poor job with the iDRAC stuff. They simply couldn't explain the difference in offerings, how they would be beneficial, etc.

Philip Elder SBS MVP said...


It took us a while to figure out the changes when the iDRAC was introduced as the DRAC had the whole feature set out of the box while the iDRAC requires a license key to activate the KVM feature (a la HP).