Monday, November 12, 2012

Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part I: Let’s Start

Postings in the same series:
Part II - Know What’s In Place
Part IIIServer Monitoring
Part IVThe Verdict

Since August the 21st a new MP for monitoring all kinds of Dell hardware has been released, version 5.0.1, the Dell Server Management Pack Suite. Since there aren’t many postings to be found on this latest release of this MP suite, I have decided to add my own two cents here. Let’s start since there is much to tell.

Too much actually so I have decided to write a small series of postings about this MP.

The name of the MP contains the word ‘suite’ and indeed it is since it covers many different kinds of hardware manufactured by Dell:

  1. MPs for monitoring Dell server hardware
    (PowerEdge series: 9G, 10G, 11G and 12G with Server Out-of band monitoring and chassis blade correlation. PowerVault series: 9G, 10G and 11G);
  2. MPs for monitoring the Chassis Management Controller
    (CMC, DRAC,/MC);
  3. MPs for monitoring the Remote Access Controllers
    (DRAC 5, iDRAC 6 & 7);
  4. MPs for monitoring and inventory of the blade servers within a chassis.

Per hardware item to be monitored there are multiple MPs to be imported. Some of them are required where as others are adding more monitoring ‘power’ to the mix. Even though many of this MPs are compatible with SCOM R2 (and even SCE which is understandable since it runs the SCOM R2 engine), for additional monitoring power OM12 is required.

Out-Of Band Monitoring & OM12
Dell refers to this additional monitoring power as ‘Out-Of-Band-Monitoring’ for which an additional Microsoft MP is required, the MP for WS-Management and SMASH Device Discovery, to be found here. This MP adds a new template to OM12, which enables discovery and management of WS-Management/SMASH compliant devices.

Basically meaning without OM12 and the additional MP delivered by Microsoft, Out-Of-Band-Monitoring’  won’t fly. Only import this MP when you run OM12 and your organization requires the Out-Of-Band Monitoring as offered by Dell. Otherwise leave that MP for what it is.

RTFM & Only Import What Your Organization Requires
As goes for any MP, the Dell MP Suite comes with a detailed technical guide (Installation_Guide.pdf) which might be a challenge to read and comprehend. None the less, Read The Friendly Manual and only start importing and tuning the MPs contained in this suite when you know what you’re doing and what MPs you really require.

Don’t import all the MPs but map them according the requirements of your business. This way you keep your OM12/SCOM R2 environment clean and sharp without collecting (tons) of information no one ever looks into…

Another must-read is the text file with the name Readme.txt. As the name of the file implies please read it since the file contains the latest info before this MP was made publicly available. Especially the section ‘Open Issues and Resolutions’ is good to read, since it might save you a lot of work before or after you have imported MPs of this suite.

Installation & What Actually Happens Under The Hood
The Dell MP Suite can be downloaded from here. It’s a single exe file (Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_v5.0.1_A00.exe) which unpacks itself in the default folder C:\Dell Management Packs\Server Management Pack\5.0.1.

It puts these three files there:

  1. Installation_Guide.pdf (RTFM Smile with tongue out);
  2. Readme.txt (RTFM as well);
  3. Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe (the file containing all the MPs and related Dell framework).

On purpose I have put the file containing the MPs as the last one in this list since RTFM of those two files is really crucial here…

When the guides are read the installation file can be run on a Management Server, in my case an OM12 MS. Run the file with an account which has OM12/SCOM R2 Admin permissions. Just go through the wizard and follow the instructions. This screen might seem a bit strange but all you need is a valid account which will be granted access to the Dell Device Helper COM+ application:

After some time (it might take a few minutes, be patient) the Dell MPs are unpacked in the folder C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1:
As you can see, there is a lot to monitor. Perhaps too much? Smile

And not just that. While the setup was running, three Dell MPs were imported into your OM12/SCOM R2 environment as well:

In your Monitoring View you’ll see this:

So these three MPs are the real foundation for many of the other MPs to be imported. And on top of it all, here is the Dell Device Helper COM+ application (run DCOMCNFG.EXE from the start menu):

And here is the account you added during setup (right click the Dell Device Helper COM+ application and select Properties > go to tab Identity):

Oh, and the COM+ application is running:

As you can see a lot of stuff happens when double clicking the file Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe and we haven’t even started with importing the Dell MPs yet!

In the next posting of this new series I’ll tell more about the MPs which can be imported and introduce a phased approach in the monitoring of your Dell hardware. So stay tuned and see you all next time.


John Bradshaw said...

Thsi is absolutely great stuff!! It is so helpful.
John Bradshaw

Stanislav Zhelyazkov said...

Looking forward for the other parts Marnix. I was using some of the older versions of these MPs to monitor Dell Servers. The old version was very noisy in SCOM. Wondering if they fixed this MPs to be less noisier.

JeffJ said...

Why does the MP need to install a COM+ object and why does it need domain admin rights? We do not grant domain admin rights unless we know exactly why it's needed.
We tried using a local server admin account and the install didn't accept that.

Marnix Wolf said...

Hi JeffJ.

As it turns out uses the Dell MP somekind of 'proxy' which uses the COM+ object.

IMHO, approaches like these aren't really good since it adds another ingredients to a mix which is already complicated enough.

However, it's the approach Dell has chosen :(.

I didn't know it required domain Admin permissions. That puzzles me as well since the COM+ object only executes locally on the SCOM Management Servers and no where else.

You could contact your Dell reseller and file a support case.


ddd said...

Thanks for this, I am just rolling out SCOM 2012 and need to install this. I am planning to contact Dell Rep for the Domain Admin rights topic and will try and post the reply.


John Bradshaw said...

Umm did anyone find out about the Domain Admin requirement???
"On systems running 64–bit operating system, provide your Active Directory Domain Administrator’s Username and Password for the Dell Device Helper COM+ application"

John Bradshaw

JeffJ said...

We opened a Dell case and got the answer after several weeks of prompting Dell to respond. Below is the response. The short answer is to install the pack on a workstation without the scom console installed. Then just copy the expanded MP files to your scom server and import.
1) What purpose / function does this COM+ object perform?
[mb] The COM+ object, along with the domain creds, are only needed for Dell MP 5.0's new out-of-band mgt feature of 12G/iDRAC7 (via WS-MAN) thus not relying on OMSA or the SCOM Windows agent being installed. You unlock this feature by buying a license imported into the Connections License Mgr (DCLM) service.

The COM+ object primarily handles communication with DCLM but there is also some assistance between the SCOM framework and the local WS-MAN stack.

2) Is the COM+ object required for the MP to work correctly, or is there a way we could only install the MP's without the COM+ component?
[mb] Only needed for the optional agentless iDRAC7 feature. Unfortunately, it was an oversight in the installer to make it’s install and registration with domain credentials a mandatory step. This is being changed in the next release. For all the other MP 5.0 features you only need the .mp files. If you run the Dell MP installer on any system that does not have SCOM mgt station, then the installer instead prompts to save the .mp files that can be manually imported via the SCOM Ops Console.

3) Why does it require a Domain Admin account? This seems really excessive. What rights does it really require??
[mb] If the agentless iDRAC7 feature IS desired, domain creds are needed because the central License Mgr service could be running on another system than the current SCOM mgr station (potentially MP running on many scaled mgt stations).

4) Does the Dell installation need to be repeated on all SCOM Management servers so that they all have the COM+ component, or did Dell introduce a single point of failure here?
[mb] MP has to be installed on all active mgt stations otherwise that station cannot talk to the DLCM to initially unlock the feature as well as there might be small problems with WS-MAN communication. However, once the license is unlocked for that given station, it remains unlocked – even if the station for some reason can no longer talk to the central DLCM.

Marnix Wolf said...

Hi JeffJ.

Thanks for sharing, awesome!

John Bradshaw said...

Thx very much Jeff

John Bradshaw said...

Oh and this is just on the Dell website (stumbled across it)

Dell Server Management Pack Suite 5.0.1: Using Server out-of-band feature without Domain Admin privileges


John Bradshaw said...

From the above link: "It could be possible that the above groups may not be created because the user might not have domain admin privileges. In that case, the above groups need to be manually created and appropriate domain users be added to the groups according to the role (for details, please refer to the Dell Connections License Manager 1.0 user’s guide)".

Dell have to be kidding with the amount of work needed to get a small feature going like this. Trouble is it makes SCOM look really bad.

sonofdelphi said...

The 5.1 version of the Server MP suite is now available. It addresses many of the concerns mentioned - for example, entering the credentials is optional...and no domain admin requirements as mentioned in the earlier blog post.