As 2013 draws to a close, IT professionals everywhere are looking ahead to 2014, and drawing up their wish lists for the new year. Many of those lists include new equipment and the personnel to manage it. But we know from countless interviews with our customers and partners that saving time and steps is at the very top of many people’s wish lists. With the latest version of OpenManage iDRAC7 with Lifecycle Controller, Dell frees up that time for you so you can spend it on what really matters: growing your business.

Auto Configuration

For example, with intelligent auto configuration you can now configure your server hardware settings automatically during network initialization of the iDRAC. When the server is plugged in it, before you even power it up, it will automatically detect where to go get this configuration file. It’s a self-detecting mechanism.

If you have a large server farm you can capture the file from a source server and push it to all other servers in the farm. You can also use the same process for re-deploying server assets, for example when moving servers from one department to another. 

We’ve also built a “preview” function that shows you what might change on the server when compared to a given configuration file. This is great for testing out “what-if” scenarios before beginning the actual deployment or reconfiguration. A detailed report will even tell you how long the configuration is expected to take.

The great part here is that the configuration is comprehensive: all bios, PERC, iSCSI, FC, and Network settings can be configured, including network partitioning, boot targets, and so forth.  All of this is easily accessible in a single configuration file that can be scripted via our standard embedded systems management interfaces.

Repository Manager

Typically, pushing updates to servers one at a time has been a time-consuming burden in the data center. When you have hundreds, or even thousands, of servers, IT admins quickly run into issues with scalability and management.

With the latest release of iDRAC7 with Lifecycle Controller, Dell added “Automatic Updates” which compares your server firmware versions to a saved file on your network.  This “server sync” lets you publish the server updates you want – BIOS, NIC, CNA, DRAC, Lifecycle Controller, PERC, and more – and have the servers pull the updates down at the time/date you choose for your routine update window. 

The first step is getting the current updates for your servers, and this can be done via Repository Manager, or as it’s affectionately known around here, Repo Man.  Repo Man knows the servers in your inventory, and pulls the correct catalogs from Dell’s ftp site. Once behind your firewall, these files can be parsed and distributed to file shares globally, providing a simple but also highly scalable solution for hundreds or even thousands of servers. Of course all of this is still under the admins control by enabling the updates to be applied based on the business needs by either a specified date/time, on next reboot, or immediately.

Tech Support Report

And finally, while no one loves troubleshooting server issues, in the latest release of iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller we’ve made it much easier to access detailed technical support information. Now there’s no software to download, nothing to install, and no need to take your server offline in order to generate tech support information. You can run the Tech Support Report directly from the iDRAC7 web interface, which gives you the same hardware report information you would get from running an in-band support tool.  You can send this report immediately to tech support or they can access it through SupportAssist.

If you’re here this week at Dell World (December 11-13, 2013), we’d love to talk to you and show you some of these features in person. Please stop by the hands-on lab to learn more about these products. If you can’t join us in the Austin Convention Center, you can find more information here or by contacting your Dell representative. And here’s to a happy, healthy, simple and efficient new year for all.