FlexAddress - The Simple Low Cost Way To Limit Downtime

Following the highly successful launch of the PowerEdge M Series, Dell continues to add to its blade portfolio by launching a new software tool for chassis enabled persistent identity called FlexAddress. The launch of Dell’s patent pending FlexAddress technology allows any M-Series blade enclosure to lock the World Wide Name (WWN) of the Fibre Channel controller and Media Access Control (MAC) of the Ethernet and iSCSI controller into a blade slot, instead of to the blade’s hardware as was done in the past. By removing the network and storage identity from the server hardware, customers are now able to upgrade and replace components or the entire server without changing the identity on the network.

Technical Community - Background Reading


Dell FlexAddress for PowerEdge M-Series Blades - WhitePaper
Dell Conjures Magic SD Card for Virtualizing Blade Server IO - The Register Article
Previous US Chat session on Blade FlexAddress

Chat Transcript

DELL-ScottH Thanks everyone for joining us in round 2 of Flexaddress .... hopefully this time can accomodate those of you on the other side of the world
DELL-ScottH For round 1 of the flexaddress chat see this link -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/06-24-08+flexible+blades+management+features+web+chat
DELL-ScottH since that chat we've built a demo for Flexaddress so you can see it in action ...
DELL-ScottH here's the link -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/7-17-08+blade+flexaddress+demo+-+comments
Vic left.
DELL-ToddM It's a cool demo - it even has sound
DELL-ScottH it shows the location in the Cmc and a reason to use it at the end
DELL-ScottH and sound !
DELL-ToddM ::smoke
DELL-ScottH if you already have an existing chassis, there's a document that will help you get up and going quickly ...
DELL-ScottH it's locatoed on this page -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/06-24-08+flexible+blades+management+features+web+chat
markmaclean joined.
DELL-ScottH that paper will give you the levels of firmware for the components in order to support flexaddress, and will show some comon errors you will see if the levels are incorrect
DELL-ToddM Welcome mark
DELL-ScottH welcome mark
DELL-ScottH The demo explains how it works, but we'll go into a little more detail here
DELL-ToddM You can click on Action -> Recent Room History to catch up on the bit that you missed
markmaclean sorry I'm late did any one else from dell emea join ?
DELL-ScottH the flexaddresses are stored on an Sd card, that card is inserted in the Cmc and when the system powers on the address are loaded and stored in the front panel.
DELL-ScottH There was a guy named Vic
DELL-ToddM Vic was on - but dropped off a couple of minutes ago
Dell-RogerF Vic Smith I think
DELL-ScottH then when the blades boot the addresses are passed to the idracs, then to the system components .. ie wwn's and Mac's
DELL-ScottH did I get that right samit ?
markmaclean ok thanks for the name. I have question around how is a sd chip "locked" to a chassis ?
samit_ashdhir yup.. you are on the money Scott...
DELL-ScottH it clicks in just like in a camera
markmaclean it is the logical side what stop me moving the sd to another blade chassis
DELL-ScottH so samit a question ..... once the addresses are loaded from the Sd card, could the card go totally belly-up and everything still work ? ... ie .. does anything rely on the Sd card after boot ?
DELL-ScottH samit, doesn't the card actually get written to after it's used so it can't be used again, unless you deactivate it first in the Cmc gui ?
DELL-ScottH Mark, I'm pretty sure that's the case, but wanted samit to confirm ... not sure where he went
samit_ashdhir That's correct Scott.
chadfenner joined.
DELL-ScottH hello chad
samit_ashdhir Once the Flexaddress feature has been activated by the Cmc during Cmc boot cycle, all the Flexaddress data gets written into Io Control panel on the chassis.
DELL-ToddM What's Up Chad?
DELL-ScottH "action" .. "recent room history" will catch you up
chadfenner Hi guys.
samit_ashdhir At the same time Cmc also ties in the Sd card to the chassis, but writing chassis service tag to the Sd card.
DELL-ScottH so it won't work in another chassis unless you deativate the feature ?
samit_ashdhir This way when the Sd card is removed from the Cmc (though its recommended to leave in the Cmc for storage purposes), and plugged into another chassis - Cmc in that chassis will see that it has already been activated and will not use the card on the new chassis.
samit_ashdhir Yes, in order to transport the Sd card from one chassis to another, the feature on the first chassis needs to be de-activated With Sd card plugged in.
markmaclean how could it get deativate ?
DELL-ScottH it's an option in the Cmc console
DELL-ScottH is everything completely transparaent ... ie, can boot from San and iscsi ?
samit_ashdhir You can use "racadm" command to de-activate the feature.
samit_ashdhir Yes. Flexaddress is transparent to all applications.
DELL-ScottH yes was looking at our Cmc just now ... didn't see the option, so is racadm the only way to deactivate ?
samit_ashdhir As any other network or storage configuration, one would use Flexaddress for Mac/wwn to configure the network setup.
samit_ashdhir Yes. "racadm" is the only way to de-activate the feature.
DELL-ScottH ok
samit_ashdhir This is also documented in detail in Cmc Users' guide.
DELL-ScottH yeah, everything I've done with it so far in the lab ... works as expected
samit_ashdhir Check out "flexaddress" section in the the Cmc users' guide.
DELL-ScottH you have link to that doc ?
DELL-ScottH I'm searching
markmaclean are there any low level hba tools from qlogic / emulex that we should not use when using flexaddess?
samit_ashdhir http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/software/smdrac3/cmc/cmc1.10/en/ug/html/index.htm
DELL-ScottH http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/software/smdrac3/cmc/cmc1.10/en/index.htm
DELL-ScottH tie !
samit_ashdhir :-)
samit_ashdhir All the vendor management tools will work as is.
samit_ashdhir As part of the development, Flexaddress feature has been validated with all vendor management tool for compatibility and interoperability.
samit_ashdhir Flexaddress has also been certified by Emc, for all Dell supported fibre channel devices.
markmaclean so this there a document we can point custmoers to that states dell has tested manage t "qlogic san surfer" &/or tools like emc powrer path . We all like to see this stuff documented.
DELL-ScottH not sure, are their validation documents ?
DELL-ScottH and there too
samit_ashdhir This is discussed in Flexaddress white paper
samit_ashdhir under "technology" section, it states:
DELL-ScottH paper is linked from here -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/06-24-08+flexible+blades+management+features+web+chat
samit_ashdhir Devices with assigned Flexaddress Mac/wwns will use them for address reporting in management tools and protocol communication. As a result, no changes are required in the management or supporting tools of a device using the Flexaddress feature. All network configuration tools and utilities will report the Flexaddress Mac/wwns for a device when it has Flexaddress enabled.
DELL-ScottH so I guess it's documented here now too
DELL-ScottH other questions ? .. I encourage those of you reading the transcript to check out the demo -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/poweredge+blade+demos ...
DELL-ScottH and the whitepaper. Flexaddress is very easy to get up and running
DELL-ScottH thanks again to everyone for joining ... the transcript for this chat and the links we mentioned will be on this page -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/07-22-08+-+blade+flexaddress -- point your fellow mates at it as well as your customers that would benefit from this information
DELL-ScottH and join us again in a few hours (3pm Austin Tx time - Central) -- from a chat on Hyper-v Systems Management
DELL-ScottH link to that chat is here -- http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/07-22-08+-+hyper-v+management+chat
DELL-ToddM Thanks to Samit for attending as "the" Flexaddress guru!
DELL-ScottH yes ! thank you very much Samit
samit_ashdhir aha... thanks for inviting to the discussion!! :-)
samit_ashdhir Nice demo!!
DELL-ScottH if you are view this transcipt and have a question -- simply "start a thread" at the bottom of this page
DELL-ScottH thanks, I'm becoming the demo factory :-)
samit_ashdhir its' already been marketed around here now...
DELL-ScottH any other scenarios you guys would like to see as a demo on the chassis with flex ?
DELL-ScottH ohhh we are twitting !
DELL-ScottH that is kind of exciting
DELL-ScottH http://twitter.com/delltechcenter
DELL-ScottH let me tweet right now with a pic !
DELL-ScottH check it !