For server management Dell delivers an outstanding package that offers both local and remote administrative access. First up is the bundled OpenManage software suite which comprises Dell’s Server Administrator, IT Assistant and Array Manager utilities. They are easy enough to load as you can install the components for a server that is to be managed or those that will turn a system into a management console. The browser-based Server Administrator looks after local management and offers plenty of tools for monitoring all the motherboard sensors. You can keep an eye on processors, fans, memory and hard disks and tie in hardware faults to an extensive alerting system so warnings can be linked to network broadcasts, running an application and sending emails.
The IT Assistant is aimed at Dell-centric networks as it is designed to remotely monitor and manage all manner of Dell systems including servers, workstations and notebooks that have the relevant agent software installed. It scans the network, builds a list of all discovered systems and provides basic inventories. It offers many features found in Server Administrator as you can also remotely monitor critical components and link problems with alerts. The motherboard also sports as standard an IPMI 1.5 compliant BMC (baseboard management controller) although the mode of access is not as good as you have to use a command prompt and control the server using basic text commands. However, you can recycle power, turn the server on and off and remotely flash the server’s status LED on the front panel.
Even so, this isn’t needed here as Dell has included its DRAC 4/P remote management PCI card which comes with its own processor, graphics controller and 10/100Mbit/sec Ethernet port and also provides direct access to the server over the network irrespective of its condition. The card is configured first from its BIOS menu where you provide basic IP address details and create lists of authorised users and passwords. You can then connect to the server over a secure browser session, view the card’s properties and remotely control the server and its power.
Another valuable feature of this system is that the price quoted to us by Dell includes its top level Gold support package. If you really can’t afford to lose your server for more than a few hours then this will make a difference as it provides three years of full 24/7 on-site support with a four hour response time.
Small businesses looking for their first purpose built server will always have Dell on their shopping list as a contender. It’s easy to see why as this manufacturer has consistently offered a solid range of systems at highly competitive prices. The PowerEdge 830 delivers a fine specification for the price which includes plenty of RAID protected storage and a wealth of remote server management and monitoring facilities.