Enabling Open Embedded Systems Management on PowerEdge Servers

Simplify and scale IT operations with Open Embedded Systems Management.

Introducing Dell Open Server Manager built on OpenBMC™ enabling open, embedded systems management as an option on select Dell PowerEdge cloud scale servers available as part of the Hyperscale Next Program for CSPs.

We have heard from many customers running large datacenters the challenges they face managing infrastructure across different vendors, or even across different generations of hardware from a single vendor. They desire simplicity in datacenter operations that goes beyond having a single pane-of-glass, but by having a single management stack across all your infrastructure.

The foundation of systems management starts with the Base Management Controller – or BMC – that’s embedded on every PowerEdge server as well as most industry servers. In a multi-vendor environment, the BMC management stacks vary and have different levels of capabilities, causing customers to manage to the “lowest common denominator.” To solve this, customers are looking at open-source BMC management stacks such as OpenBMC™, rather than vendor-specific ones.

Open-source Software with OpenBMC

OpenBMC is an open-source BMC firmware stack designed to run on a variety of infrastructures. It is a Linux Foundation project with the backing of Intel®, IBM®, Microsoft® and Google™. The goal of OpenBMC is to run the exact same embedded management software on all systems, bringing consistent management across the environment.

Additionally, many customers are adopting open-source software for code transparency and trust while moving towards an open-ecosystem philosophy and away from vendor-specific implementations. OpenBMC is part of a broader portfolio of projects inspired or designed by the Open Compute Project (OCP) to increase innovation through open standards and collaboration.

Image taken from the Dell Open Server Manager software application.
Screen capture of the Dell Open Server Manager software application.

Open Ecosystem Embedded Software = Dell Open Server Manager

Dell Open Server Manager built on OpenBMC enables open, embedded systems management as an option on select Dell PowerEdge cloud scale servers. Explicitly designed for Cloud Server Providers managing large-scale data centers, Open Server Manager is Dell’s implementation of OpenBMC. It is designed, tested and validated as an option on PowerEdge R650xs CSP and PowerEdge R750xs CSP servers. The complete image is signed by Dell and integrated at the factory upon order.

Since the goal of OpenBMC is to provide consistent systems management, we did not create a differentiated vendor-specific offering and stayed as close to upstream OpenBMC as possible. However, enabled OpenBMC to run securely on PowerEdge cloud scale servers leveraging the same silicon as Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC).

This ensures that our customers maintain a choice as to which embedded system management stack they wish to run. When ordering a cloud scale system, there is an option for embedded systems management – either iDRAC – Dell’s industry-leading, full-featured management stack – or Open Server Manager. Both run on the same silicon with the same hardware and ship directly from the factory. At any time, there is an option to convert back to iDRAC if there is a need for specific capabilities provided by iDRAC.

Security, Support and Manageability

Dell takes security seriously and does not want unknown or malicious firmware to find its way onto PowerEdge servers. If the BMC is compromised, bad actors can access the entire server and potentially the entire data center environment. With that in mind, we have enabled silicon Root-of-Trust to ensure that only Dell’s version of OpenBMC – one that has been thoroughly tested and validated – runs securely on PowerEdge R650xs CSP and PowerEdge R750xs CSP servers.

Dell lifecycle management is enabled to install Dell-signed firmware update packages through Open Server Manager for the BIOS, backplane, power supplies, iDRAC and Open Server Manager as required. These are the same firmware update packages used to update firmware via iDRAC, eliminating the need to manage two different firmware repositories.

OpenBMC logs and system configuration information can be exported into a log package for SupportAssist providing full warranty and support coverage.

Open Server Manager is pure OpenBMC wrapped with the security, support, and manageability that only Dell can provide. Contact your Dell account team to learn more about Open Server Manager – available exclusively through the Hyperscale Next program for select customers.

Rob Wilbert

About the Author: Rob Wilbert

Committed to driving sustainable, transformational change, Rob Wilbert leverages experience in software development, data analytics and product management to support organizations in maximizing their profitability and efficiency. As Product Manager of Embedded Systems Management within Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG), Rob brings his passion for product ownership to Dell’s next-generation embedded server management offerings. As chief product expert, Rob regularly liaises between Dell and its key stakeholders, responding to product inquiries and evangelizing product benefits to a diverse, global customer base. Prior to working in product management, Rob spent a decade within Dell’s Customer Solutions Center, helping to solve customers’ toughest problems. Leveraging his background in IT consulting, software development and finance, Rob has the unique ability to seamlessly bridge both business and technical realms, positively impacting enterprise bottom lines. Rob holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Michigan.