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Systems Manageability of VMware ESXi on Dell PowerEdge Servers

After people have learned about ESXi, and understand all the benefits (less patching, easy deployment and manageability, etc), one of the first concerns that they raise is around hardware management. Many IT shops use management tools from OEMs such as Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA) to do things like hardware health monitoring, asset inventory, and viewing alert and command logs. Traditionally, this functionality has been provided for ESX by an agent running in the Service Console. Without the Service Console, they ask, how could this be done for ESXi?

Ever since ESXi was released almost one and half years ago (as version ESXi 3.5), VMware and Dell have been working closely together to provide hardware management capabilities via an agentless model, using industry standard interfaces for management such as WS-MAN. With the release of ESXi 4, the management capabilities of Dell servers running ESXi is almost at parity with ESX 4.   In particular, the following features are available to OMSA from an ESXi host

  • View server and storage asset data  
  • View server and storage health information
  • View alert and command logs 
  • Configure hardware (storage, BIOS, etc.)

All this is available via the familiar web-based interfaced used for servers running ESX.  Here is a screenshot of the Power Tracking Statistics Page:

Power stats

In addition, we have enhanced VMware vCenter (formerly VirtualCenter) Server to provide fairly extensive hardware-level monitoring as well. With vSphere 4, this capability is fully integrated with the rest of vCenter, e.g. you can set alarms on hardware faults. (Note that monitoring functionality is available even for the stand-alone, free version of ESXi 4; simply look in the vSphere Client).  Here is a screenshot of a Dell System being monitor in vCenter:

 Hwmon

To learn more about the management capabilities of ESXi 4 running on Dell PowerEdge servers, see this new joint white paper from VMware and Dell. There is also an online article in the June 2009 edition of Dell Power Solutions that talks about this.

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