Fish On! Dell Nets Enhanced and Expanded Redfish Support for PowerEdge

The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) protocol has held a central position in unified server management for years due, in large part, to its ability to use common commands to control servers from multiple manufacturers. However, IT administrators are up against the limits of efficient automation using IPMI, and are looking for something better. That something has arrived: Redfish, the new standard for secure and scalable server management automation. It is a joint development by the industry’s largest server manufacturers who have unified under the standardization umbrella of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). Dell continues to chair the overall DMTF and to co-chair the Redfish technical committee. With Redfish, the challenges of expanded scale, higher security, and multi-vendor openness are managed, while also enabling automation with modern DevOps tools and processes.

Redfish automation brings a new level of performance at scale and support for modern data center administrators, and Dell is helping to lead the charge. By incorporating Redfish support into the iDRAC RESTful API, Dell can provide:

  • Increased simplicity and usability using JSON and OData data expression
  • Enhanced management security with HTTPS-based encrypted communications
  • A RESTful programmatic interface that can easily be controlled through scripts
  • Standardized APIs for key use cases including inventory, configuration, update, monitoring, and alerting

Redfish is readily supported by scripting languages like Python and PowerShell. That is where the power of automation really shines. With native support for RESTful APIs from the most widely used scripting languages, Redfish is extremely easy to use while being a very powerful way to centrally manage and automate server configuration, deployment, update, and monitoring. Using a RESTful interface, Redfish readily supports integration with the growing range of open source Orchestration and Management (O&M) tools such as Ansible, Chef, Puppet and Salt Stack. As administrators expand the use O&M solutions to provide “desired state” management automation for server hardware in addition to their operating environments and workloads, Redfish support is growing in importance.

Redfish is also built to be aware and take advantage of nested environments that are typical in data centers where a single chassis can contain multiple configurations of various components. Using JSON and OData to represent server information in human-readable form makes it easy to find, view and modify objects of interest in the tree-like structures that Redfish employs.

With the introduction of the new generation of PowerEdge servers, all of which have the embedded iDRAC9 with Lifecycle Controller, Dell supports the latest version of the standard, Redfish 2016, expanding the API to meet customer-critical automation needs such as standardized BIOS configuration, firmware inventory, and performing firmware updates. In addition to supporting the standard APIs of Redfish, Dell also adds value to the iDRAC RESTful API such as our support for RESTful server configuration with the Server Configuration Profile (SCP). Using SCP file imports, administrators can enforce server configuration compliance for EVERY BIOS, iDRAC, PERC, NIC and HBA setting. And now with iDRAC9, the SCP also supports firmware version compliance. This enables a single API call, using a single SCP file to enforce user-specified firmware versions and hardware settings.

Server management automation is the sword that cuts the Gordian knot of IT resource challenges and also the source of an organization’s ability to enable expanding scale, performance, and security requirements. The leadership of Dell within the DMTF standards-making body coupled with the expanded management automation capabilities of the 14th generation of PowerEdge servers with iDRAC9 and a growing library of enablement tools and information for Redfish enable IT staff to achieve new levels of efficiency.

Together, the newest generation of PowerEdge servers, the iDRAC9 with Lifecycle Controller, and the iDRAC RESTful API with Redfish, make scalable and secure automation of server inventory, configuration, monitoring and update a lot simpler.

To support your PowerEdge management automation efforts, here are the latest resources available from Dell Techcenter, Github, YouTube, DMTF and more:

iDRAC RESTful API with Redfish automation tools using Python and PowerShell examples – Dell and community provided resources for Redfish-based automation

iDRAC RESTful API with Redfish documentation and technical white papers

Using iDRAC RESTful API with Python and PowerShell – a series of short videos that illustrate preparing for and using Redfish scripting in Windows Server and Linux environments

 DMTF materials on Redfish standard – documents and videos that explain the standard

Happy (Red)fishing!

About the Author: John Abrams

John Abrams is a product marketing manager for PowerEdge servers, with responsibility for OpenManage tools and technology and networking solutions. John’s prior work at Dell covers Linux operating systems and client systems marketing. His prior work experience include compilers, debuggers, and Linux BSPs for Metrowerks/Freescale and software marketing for BMC Software.