Monday, December 13, 2010

Dell MP (4.1, A00) and some additional information

Even though I haven’t put the latest Dell MP through its paces (yet) I must say I am impressed. Why? The latest version of this Dell MP contains some improvements, showing that Dell means business. Version 4.0, A00 marked a positive change about how Dell thinks about MPs all together and the latest version (4.1 A00) underlines that change.

No more crappy MPs from Dell. Nice! This posting is about the MP, what’s new and what’s changed. So let’s start.


Stupid to mention perhaps, but don’t forget to unblock the downloaded executable file when you are running Vista, W7 or W2K08. Otherwise you might end up with strange errors while trying to unpack the file :).

The package contains 11 files all together: four of them are text files and seven of them are MPs. Compared to the previous version an extra MP (sorry, Dell refers to it as a utility) has been added. Unfortunately, the pdf file (present in the previous version of the MP) has been removed and replaced by text files instead. Good for the information these files contain, bad for the level of readability.

The four MPs are:

  1. Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack 
    ( For a light weight scalable server discovery and monitoring of Dell Systems;

  2. Dell Windows Server Detailed Management Pack
    ( For a detailed discovery and monitoring of Dell Servers and its components;

  3. Dell Remote Access Controller Management Pack
    ( For discovery, monitoring and trap processing of Dell Remote Access 4, Dell Remote Access Controller 5 and Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller 6;

  4. Dell Chassis Management Controller Management Pack
    ( For discovery, monitoring, and trap processing of Chassis Management Controllers and Dell Modular Chassis Remote Access Controllers.

The three utilities are:

  1. Dell Base folder utility
    ( For the basic folder structure and Root node.

  2. Dell Overrides utility
    ( for turning ON the Informational Alerts provided in the Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack.
    Its advised to keep this MP away from SCOM, unless you love to get informational Alerts…

  3. Dell Chassis Blade Correlation utility (this is the newly added MP, sorry utility :) )
    ( For turning ON the correlation of CMC and DRAC/MC chassis with discovered modular server blades.

The dependencies between the MPs and Utilities are depicted below:image
(Thick red line: Primary Base MP, thin red line: Secondary Base MP, broken black line: non-base MPs.)

Requirements – Dell servers:
(All these requirements are found in the text file ‘DellMPv41_Server_Readme.txt’)

  • On the servers Dell OMSA (OpenManage Server Administrator) needs to be installed, version 5.5 to 6.4 is supported (when a version lesser than is installed, only basic monitoring of Network Interfaces is enabled for thesystem. Also, Performance statistics will not be available for
    Network Interfaces)
  • When monitoring DRAC: the DRAC Agent needs to be installed as well.

Requirements – OpsMgr Servers: (Only needed when running certain Dell Tasks from the OpsMgr Console)

  • BMC Management Utility version 2.0 or higher needs to be installed.

Support – Dell systems:

  • All Dell systems supported by OMSA (version 5.5 to 6.4) are supported by this MP as well.

Support – Windows Server OS:
Wh00t! Windows 2008 R2 is now officially supported.

  • W2K03 SP2 up to W2K08 R2

Required authorizations:
Mostly the default authorizations will suffice. For these two options Power User or Administrator permissions are needed:

  • Dell Monolithic Server-In-Band DRAC Discovery & Console Launch;
  • Clearing ESM Log (can also be done by supplying alternative credentials).

Some advice:

  • Even though I have said it many times before, RTM is key here;
  • Also test the MP first before putting it into production;
  • Be careful with the DRAC and CMS MPs. These rely on SNMP and as we all know, the SNMP module of SCOM isn’t very robust nor scalable. So when using those MPs, distribute the load by using Proxies;
  • Start small by only importing the and the Go from there, tune it and import later the other MPs (when required);
  • Reports are still lacking in this version of the MP, so go here when you need additional Reports about your Dell servers. This should work in this version of the MP as well;
  • The discovery of the new Dell servers ( runs too frequent (once per 24 hours). Only when you add many Dell servers per week, this viable, otherwise override these Discoveries so they run only once a week (604800 seconds);
  • Same goes for the Detailed MP ( I would change them as well to run once a week. The discovery which runs every six hours ( 21600 seconds) can be changed as well, like running every 24 hours or 3 days for instance.

Wrap up:
Since I haven’t tested the MP yet, its too early to make any real statement. However, the set of MPs looks promising, just like the previous version. Already I got some feedback stating that the Discovery issues has been solved indeed.

The approach where the MP is broken down into a set of components is a choice which I still highly appreciate. One can choose what to MPs to load and configure and what MPs to skip. So its good to see that Dell is still committed to this approach, introduced with the previous version.

The new MP (Dell Chassis Blade Correlation utility) adds additional functionality to the MP and monitoring of Dell hardware as a whole. Again, one can choose to add this MP or leave it.

Please let me know about your experiences. When you’re OK with it I will put them on my blog, referring to its source (of course).

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