Jan 29, 2020

Notes from the field: Implementing Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) 2019 + Lenovo + WSLab: 2. Setting up BMC/IMM

Out-of-band management (IMM) for x86 servers in Lenovo's world is called XClarity Controller. The default login is USERID and password PASSW0RD (with zero) + requiring periodic changes.

  • Changing properties of IMM for every servers one-by-one seems like a bad idea.
  • Not mentioning the fact that you may have messed up the purchase order and the RAID for booting partition (or boot order in general) might not be correctly set from the factory so we are looking for unified configuration.
Lenovo offers a great and easy and free tool called XClarity Administrator which you can use for:

  • Firmware updates
  • Driver updates (never succeed in making it work because of security requirements)
  • Health monitoring and reporting (email, SNMP, connector to Windows Admin Center...)
  • Auto-discovery
  • OS Deployments
  • Mass-configuration using templates

Last two (+support) are licenced (around 50 EUR/server/year) but the trial period is 90 days - enough for initial configuration. On top of that, it can centrally manage identity and access.

For small scale deployment, you can set up a server one by one but here is the idea:

  • Assuming all management ports of servers and switches are connected to one specific management VLAN (for illustration purposes see pic below)
  • Download appliance for Hyper-V, deploy it to the "Service Server" and connect it up to the out-of-band server management (BMC/IMM/iLO whatever the name) VLAN. Very easy to deploy, nice UX. Use IPv4 (static) + IPv6 (auto-config)
  • Login via the IP you have set during the process = https://[IPADDRESS]/ui/index.html
  • In XClarity Administrator create a set of users you want to use (or even better connect to an identity source such as Active Directory - and always create a backup local user as required by Disaster Recovery!)
  • Instead of setting up DHCP to Management VLAN simple use IPv6 for initial auto-discovery (leave the auto-config for IPv6 on the XClarity Administrator appliance)
  • Set up a naming convention for the managed servers = that is the name that will be visible on the server during start-up, in BIOS/UEFI, when accessing via IMM and in XClarity Administrator. I highly recommend keeping the same everywhere, especially in Windows!
  • If needed create a template to configure properties such as storage/RAID or power performance mode 
A couple of nice features that comes along:

  • Set-up automatic sending of support requests so that no time is wasted to call support
  • One page view with all the support expiration, download logs....
  • Specify position in the rack, for remote navigation of technician

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