Technical Community - Background Reading

Dell's M1000e Blade Chassis recieved a new firmware update in the form of the Chasis Management Controller (CMC) 3.1 recently, and users can look forward to quite a few enhancements in the new version.

For a visual representation (screen captures) of the new features in CMC 3.1, please go to the following link

For those not familiar with the M1000e CMC 3.1 firmware, a full demo of the CMC 3.0 product is located here on the Dell TechCenter blog:

To download the latest version (3.1) of the CMC for the M1000e, use the following link

New Features:

Fixes and Enhancements in Version 3.10

* Multi-chassis management that allows up to 8 other chassis to be visible
from the lead chassis.

* Power log feature that periodically samples and displays chassis
system input power (total AC consumption).

* Server Performance over Power Redundancy, which when enabled,
favors server performance and server powerup, over maintaining power
redundancy. When disabled, the system favors power redundancy over
server performance.

* Provides option to use the chassis in Maximum Power Conservation
Mode to extend power life while running on UPS or other backup power

* Save and restore configuration on a host.

* Improvement of SEL log.

* GPL/Open Source compliant.

* Dell 8/4 Gpbs Fibre Channel Pass Thru IOM.

* Dell M8428-k IOM.

* Brocade BR1741M-k Dual Port Mezzanine Card.

Chat Transcript

Dell-PeterT OK so let’s wait just a couple more minutes before we kick it off. Hopefully everyone has seen the preview info on the Chat landing page -
Lee4Dell Page looks good Peter!
Dell-PeterT So today we have Roger Foreman here to help talk about the new features in CMC 3.1.
Dell-PeterT I did a quick write-up on the new features and took some screen captures so that Dell TechCenter members can see the differences at a glance.
Dell-PeterT That page is here -
Dell-KongY Great looking page, Peter!
Dell-PeterT Thanks Kong! Roger will be able to go into the details of the new features a little deeper than me if there are questions.
Dell-RogerF Sure.
Dell-PeterT So perhaps the most exciting new feature is the Multi-Chassis management feature.
Dell-PeterT If you have multiple Dell Power Edge M1000e Chassis in your datacenter, you can now view all of them in a dashboard view from a single CMC.
Dell-RogerF All would be nice but we're limiting the number to nine with this release.
Dell-RogerF Thinking is that we can always rise.
Dell-PeterT That’s true; I only had three blade Chassis in my lab environment.
Dell-RogerF Actually, nine covers about 99% of our customers though.
Dell-Jeff_S For now. :)
Dell-Jeff_S If we launch that buy-nine-get-one-free special, Roger will be in trouble.
Dell-PeterT In the Group view, you get a graphical representation of your blade systems at once as shown in this screen capture:
Nathaniel_Avery Is there any limitation in terms of bandwidth? If I have a Chassis in a remote datacenter on a slow link (T1) is that a problem?
Dell-RogerF My advice for connectivity is that if you can manage it remotely via the GUI over the link then you'll be fine. Far less bytes but still over the https (443) connection.
Dell-RogerF Does that makes sense Nathaniel?
Dell-Jeff_S How does one add a Chassis to a group?
Nathaniel_Avery Yes, that'll work. I wasn't sure if the link speed affected any of the alarms, or logs.
Dell-PeterT Hi Jeff, to add Chassis’s to a group, you have to create a group first and assign a "lead" Chassis.
Dell-RogerF I'm going to invoke the "teaser" tag line here saying I'd like another chat next year where we can bring in a couple of engineers to go into details of status and security.
Dell-PeterT From there, you need the IP address, username, and password of any Chassis you wish to add to the group.
Dell-PeterT You do it all from the CMC GUI of the "lead" Chassis as shown here -
Dell-PeterT That sounds like a great idea.
Nathaniel_Avery Let's say I had three Chassis. Could I configure each one as a "lead" for redundancy?
Dell-PeterT In my setup, I only created one lead Chassis. Roger, do you want to handle the redundancy question?
Dell-RogerF At this time, a Chassis can only have a single role; lead, member, or not-affiliated.
ceri Can I connect direct to a "member'' Chassis still?
Dell-RogerF @ceri Absolutely. And from there can even drop out of the cluster and promote yourself to lead and build a new cluster.
ceri Excellent. I think that would probably be all the redundancy I would need.
Dell-RogerF That and the fact that a Chassis can have two CMCs for redundancy seems to do it.
ceri Yep. Granular permissions for create/destroy clusters?
Nathaniel_Avery I guess a Chassis rarely "dies" just anticipating questions from my team when I bring it up.
Dell-RogerF No "super cluster" admin with this release.
ceri @Nathaniel_Avery The main problem I could anticipate would be during CMC upgrades of the lead. How will rolling upgrades work? Any compatibility issues anticipated?
Dell-RogerF Upgrades should work like CMC to iDRAC today where you upgrade the lead then the members. At this point we don't see a feature that will require simultaneous upgrades.
ceri Thanks Roger. That and individual blade power figures via SNMP (?) and I'm sold. ;-D
Nathaniel_Avery Can the lead box push updates to its members?
Dell-RogerF @ceri Sorry to keep you waiting on the SNMP.
ceri @RogerF Heh, no problem.
Dell-RogerF @Nataniel_Avery So far just a foundation, can't push configuration or upgrades.
Dell-RogerF Peter, do you want to go over a couple of the other new features?
Dell-PeterT Sure thing. One of the other interesting features is the ability to export Chassis configuration settings to a file.
Dell-PeterT Also, the ability to import these settings from a file you saved off earlier.
ceri Oh, excellent. Would it look like the output of racadm getconfig at all? That would be good.
Dell-PeterT A screen shot of that Chassis Configuration Backup screen is located here:
Dell-RogerF @ceri Actually it's a full save/restore that includes certificates. So we encrypt it and key it so it can only restore to the same Chassis.
ceri OK. That could very well work better for me, actually.
Nathaniel_Avery @RogerF Do you export the configuration to a USB key?
ceri It would be useful (as a future extension, maybe) to have some tool to be able to pre-prepare them, if possible (for example, for Chassis that haven't been ordered yet, a little like FlexAddress maybe).
Dell-RogerF Just use the browser to save to a file accessible from where you're looking.
ceri But that might be a lot of work on your end for not a huge amount of actual customer benefit. Don't know.
Dell-PeterT You can save the configuration file to a USB key, locally, or to a network location.
ceri Because obviously I can do some of pre-configuration stuff with a racadm script anyway. Maybe just ignore me for now. :)
Dell-RogerF @ceri If you think about it, wouldn't you like to manage a set of configuration information across the cluster all the time including when you add a Chassis?
Dell-RogerF Something for the Engineers to think about for later next year, maybe.
ceri On a per-cluster basis that would be completely awesome, yes.
ceri Basically I have as much as I can pre-configured so that we can get the cheapest folks possible to roll out virtual boxes as a matter of course, so it would be nice to extend that.
ceri Oh, I thought of another thing from last year when we got our Chassis, which is not hugely relevant but I'll mention it anyway; it was difficult to find out the CMC’s MAC address. Some way of showing it on the LED screen would be good.
Nathaniel_Avery @ceri brings up a good point. How much Chassis management is available in the new VMware add-in?
Dell-RogerF @ceri Good idea for the LCD. I'll put that into my wish list.
ceri Thanks very much.
Dell-RogerF My understanding of vCenter is that it currently isn't cluster aware so we can't do much now. Is that right, Kong?
Dell-KongY Roger, that is my understanding as well.
Dell-RogerF @Nathaniel_Avery What sort of Chassis things would you like to do?
Dell-PeterT @ceri Is it a hassle to log in through the CMC web interface to get the MAC addresses?
ceri @Dell-Peter Yes, in our environment we use DHCP but everything is statically registered and isn't allowed to be connected to the network until it is registered. Registration requires the MAC address.
Dell-RogerF Sounds like a good security practice.
Dell-PeterT I see, thanks for running us through your use case.
ceri @Dell-Peter You're welcome. The fun part was hooking it up directly to a laptop and running tcpdump revealed tens of MAC addresses because we could see all the iDRACs there too, so then we had to run through each one and see if it was right or not. A piece of paper in the packing materials would have done just as well as a software function.
Nathaniel_Avery @RogerF Hopefully everything that's possible from the current management interface. :) But I'd settle for provisioning a blade, installing ESXi, and joining it to an existing HA cluster.
ceri Nathaniel, I suppose the ultimate goal would be to not have to use the CMC interface at all?
Nathaniel_Avery Yes, that's right as our blades are primarily used for VMware hosts.
Dell-PeterT That's a useful piece of info as well.
ceri Yes, same here.
Dell-PeterT Before we run out of time I should at least mention the other interesting new features in CMC 3.1 around Power configuration - the following graphic compares the CMC 3.0 and CMC 3.1 power configuration screens -
Dell-PeterT You will notice in 3.1 there are new options for server performance over power redundancy, remote power logging.
ceri Could you explain "remote power logging" please?
Dell-PeterT Here's what the help says: Enables remote logging (Syslog) of power consumption data on up to three possible servers that host a copy of the Syslog. Remote logging interval (in units of minutes) determines the interval between remote power log messages. Remote logging interval can be set to any value between one and 1440 (both inclusive) in units of minutes. Max remote logging interval supported is 24 hours (i.e. 1440 minutes). Power consumption data (max, min and average data collected during the remote logging interval) is logged once every configured remote logging interval. This requires Remote Syslog Configuration to be enabled on Network Services page with specified hostname, an Ipv6 address, or an Ipv4 address of servers that host a copy of the Syslog.
ceri Got it, thanks.
Dell-RogerF Customers wanted a way to capture all their power consumption info and the CMC was space constrained.
Dell-RogerF Takes a little creativity but can also import those into an Excel spreadsheet for graphical reports to management.
ceri Yes, I can see the use case there.
Nathaniel_Avery If anyone has that Excel template, I'd be interested in seeing it.
Nathaniel_Avery Can you please explain a little more about the "Server Performance Over Power Redundancy Option?"
Dell-RogerF Will look for the template. Saw a demo but didn't capture it.
Dell-PeterT @Nathaniel_Avery Server Performance Over Power Redundancy, which when enabled, favors server performance and server power up, over maintaining power redundancy. When disabled, the system favors power redundancy over server performance.
Dell-PeterT When not selected then if the power supplies in the Chassis do not provide sufficient power both for redundancy as well as full performance, then some servers may not be granted sufficient power for full performance, or may not be powered on.
ceri This is analogous to "strict admission control" in vSphere, almost?
Dell-RogerF Behavior today if redundancy is configured is to not power up the last Dell PowerEdge M910 as it would take more power than three supplies can deliver.
ceri Ah, that too.
Dell-PeterT Last few minutes, any final questions?
Nathaniel_Avery Ok, thanks.
ceri What's next? ;-D
Dell-PeterT Hehe I knew someone would ask that.
Dell-Jeff_S A couple of EqualLogic topics in January/February, also more Enterprise Client stuff on the way.
ceri I aim to please.
Dell-Jeff_S Assuming you were asking about next chat topics or do you mean futures on the Chassis? :)
ceri Have to say that I'm really impressed with the Dell PowerEdge M1000e and the continued development on the CMC features; it was the best choice for us 15 months ago and I believe that's very much still the case. Congratulations to all involved.
ceri @Jeff_S Both are good. :)
Dell-RogerF Thanks!!!!
Dell-PeterT Nice, thank you Ceri.
Dell-PeterT Thanks so much to everyone for joining, especially to @ceri and @Nathaniel_Avery for their customer feedback and insight into their personal use cases. We hope you enjoyed the chat!
Dell-Jeff_S Thanks Nathaniel & Ceri for your time today. Thanks Roger for joining us on your vacation!
ceri You're welcome, thanks for holding this to keep us updated.
Nathaniel_Avery Thank you all. You've been great!
ceri Think I can actually justify a 3.10 upgrade now too ;)
Dell-RogerF My pleasure. Don't forget the tough questions next time when I bring the Engineers.
Dell-KongY Thanks everyone—especially Nathaniel, Ceri, Roger and Peter!
ceri Yep, will line them up. Thanks again.
Dell-RogerF Happy New Year!
Dell-PeterT Last thing I'll say - here's where to find the upgrade:
ceri Oh yes, Happy New Year to you all too. :)
ceri Thanks Peter.