Saturday, February 28, 2009

HP Systems Insight Manager simplified

What is HP server management software?

Modern servers for large organizations come in racks. These racks can have 5 extremely powerful and expandable servers, 42 of the thinnest servers, or even up to 128 server blades. When these computers are set up and while they're running there's no keyboard, monitor or mouse connected to them. The physical installation and the software installation and configuration are handled by completely different people. An essential piece that makes this work is a built-in system manager.

For HP servers the built in system manager is called Integrated Lights Out, or ILO. It's a dedicated computer inside the server that works on standby power, so it's on even when the server is off. It's accessible through its own network port or a shared one. It has access to all of the server's health monitoring systems, the keyboard mouse USB and video, and can even flash the BIOS. Older servers have basic ILO. More recent servers will have ILO2. Both versions of ILO have the potential to be improved with a license key in the CMOS settings that enables more advanced features like graphics video and virtual media.

To make working with many thousands of systems manageable, you need a coordinated system that allows you to monitor and perform operations on servers, groups of servers, or entire datacenters. That's where HP System Insight Manager comes in.

Systems Insight Manager (SIM) consists of a web server, database and set of utilities. Although HP doesn't make a strong point of it, this type of service is called a Content Management System (CMS). The web server provides a single integrated viewpoint of all the servers. It does this by presenting a visual representation of the servers themselves. It can detect servers on the network, or you can tell it where they are. Once they're configured, servers are available in the interface, monitored continuously and managed. You can actually look at the picture of the rack on the web server and see the lights blinking. It's integrated with the built in management hardware of the servers, so by selecting a server you can perform many different options. You can power the server on and off, turn on the service ID blue light, configure BIOS settings, flash the BIOS or even install an operating system. Using the remote console you can watch the machine boot as if you were in front of it with a keyboard mouse and monitor, and use whatever graphical interface you install too, so configuring Windows or Linux doesn't require a trip to the server room. These features work outside the operating system using dedicated hardware inside the server that runs on standby power, so it works even when the server is turned off. Because it's web based, it can be made available anywhere on your network or or anywhere in the world. Systems Insight Manager runs on its own server, and can be downloaded for free.

HP offers some software packages for sale, and provides some with each Proliant server. These software packages help in running, managing and configuring an individual server. They all also plug into Systems Insight Manager, enabling various features from the higher level view.

The Proliant Support Pack that you get with each server includes a suite of drivers and software for supported operating systems, including a service called the System Management Home page. This service runs in the operating system, presents a web based interface, and allows you to access all of the built in system monitors and the system management hardware in each server.

Systems Insight Manager detects this interface and installs a button to monitor each system's System Management home page. Included in the Proliant Support Pack is also a CD package called "Smart Start" that allows for the remote installation of an operating system for a single server, and it has a scripting toolkit for scripted installations. There's also an array configuration utility (ACU) that allows you to configure locally attached hard drives using HP RAID controllers. A diagnostic suite is also included, which allows you to perform certain diagnostic tests outside of the operating system (offline edition) or inside of it (online edition).

Insight Control Environment is available at additional cost. It includes all of these modules, some of which are also available separately:

Rapid Deployment Pack allows you to build and configure system images and stream them to individual servers or groups of servers.

Virtual Machine Management Pack assists with virtual machines.

Vulnerability and Patch Management lets you set up repositories for patches and automatically deploy them.

Insight Power Manager allows you to monitor and control power usage per server and by groups of servers.

In addition to HP servers the the Systems Insight Manager can also monitor other devices that use SNMP, the (formerly) Simple Network Management Protocol, which is supported by almost all modern network devices.

Other vendors have similar systems for managing their servers. These power tools for server administration help reduce costs and enable fewer server administrators to manage far more servers.

4 comments:

symbolset said...

I wanted to leave a follow up comment to this post: IE8 doesn't seem to work well with Systems Insight Manager or HP iLO.

logitech33 said...

do u have a guided tutorial to setup HP inside manager ?

symbolset said...

@logitech33:

Windows: http://docs.hp.com/en/418812-006/index.html

Linux: http://docs.hp.com/en/418811-005/index.html

bkumar said...

I want to run the PSP on the client machine without hpsmhd service. i.e. without having a webserver. Is there any known way to achieve it?
I have tried stopping it, but then the hpsim fails to get all details.

Thanks