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HOWTO: Dell vSphere 6.0 Integration Bits for Servers

October 5, 2015 3 comments

When I do a review of a vSphere site, I typically start by looking to see if best practices are being followed – then look to see if any of the 3rd party bits are installed. This post picks on Dell environments a little, but the same general overview holds true of HP, or IBM/Lenovo, or Cisco, or…. Everyone has their own 3rd party integration bits to be aware of. Perhaps this is the part where everyone likes Hyper Converged because you don’t have to know about this stuff. But as an expert administering it, you should at least be aware of it, if not an expert.

I’m not going to into details as to how to install or integrate these components. I just wanted to make a cheat sheet for myself, and maybe remind some folks that regardless of your vendor, make sure you check for the extra’s – its part of why you’re not buying white boxes, so take advantage of it. Most if it is free!

The links:

I’ve picked on a Dell PowerEdge R630 server, but realistically any 13G box would have the same requirements. Even older 11/12G boxes such as an R610 or R620 would. So first we start with the overview page for the R630 – remember to change that OS selection to “VMware ESXi v6.0”
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/product/poweredge-r630/drivers

 

Dell iDRAC Service Module (VIB) for ESXi 6.0, v2.2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=2XHPY

You’re going to want to be able to talk to and manage the iDRAC from inside of ESXi, so get the VIB to allow you to do so. This installs via VUM incredibly easy.

 

Dell OpenManage Server Administrator vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB) for ESXi 6.0, v8.2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=VV2P2

Next, you’ll want to be able to handle talking to OMSA on the ESXi box itself, to get health, management, inventory, and other features. Again, this installs with VUM.

 

OpenManage™ Integration for VMware vCenter, v3.0
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=8V0JG

This will let your vCenter present you with various tools to manage your Dell infrastructure right from within vCenter. Installs as an OVF and is a virtual appliance, so no server required.

 

VMware ESXi 6.0
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=CG9FP 

Your customized ESXi installation ISO. Note the file name – VMware-VMvisor-Installer-6.0.0-2809209.x86_64-Dell_Customized-A02.iso – based on the -2809209 and the –A02 and a quick Google search, you can see that this is v6.0.0b (https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere6/doc/vsphere-esxi-600b-release-notes.html) vs v6.0U1.

 

Dell Systems Management Tools and Documentation DVD ISO, v.8.2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=4HHMH

You likely will not need this for a smaller installation, but it can help out if you need to standardize, by allowing you to configure and export/import things like BIOS/UEFI, Firmware, iDRAC, LCC, etc settings. Can’t hurt to have around.

 

There is no longer a need for a “SUU” – Systems Update Utility, as the Lifecycle Controller built into ever iDRAC, even the Express will allow you to do updates from that device. I recommend doing them via the network as it is significantly less hassle than going through the Dell Repository Builder, and downloading your copies to a USB/ISO/DVD media and doing it that way.

Now, the above covers what you’ll require for vSphere. What is NOT immediately obvious is the tools you may want to use in Windows. Even though you now have management capability on the hosts and can see things in vCenter, you’re still missing the ability to talk to devices and manage them from Windows – which is where I spend all of my actual time. Things like monitoring, control, management, etc, all are done from within Windows. So let’s go ahead and change that OS to “Windows Server 2012 R2 SP1” and get some additional tools:

 

Dell Lifecycle Controller Integration 3.1 for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012, 2012 SP1 and 2012 R2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=CKHYR

If you are a SCCM shop, you may very much want to be able to control the LCC via SCCM to handle hardware updates.

 

Dell OpenManage Server Administrator Managed Node(windows – 64 bit) v.8.2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=6J8T3

Even though you’ve installed the OMSA VIB’s on ESXi, there is no actual web server there. So you’ll need to install the OMSA Web Server tools somewhere – could even be your workstation – and use that. You’ll then select “connect to remote node” and specify the target ESXi system and credentials.

 

Dell OpenManage Essentials 2.1.0
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=JW22C

If you’re managing many Dell systems and not just servers, you may want to go with OME if you do not have SCCM or similar. It’s a pretty good 3rd party SNMP/WMI monitoring solution as well. But will also allow you to handle remote updates of firmware, BIOS, settings, etc, on various systems – network, storage, client, thin client, etc.

 

Dell OpenManage DRAC Tools, includes Racadm (64bit),v8.2
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=9RMKR 

RACADM is a tool I’ve used before and have some links on how to use remotely. But this tool can grandly help you standardize your BIOS/IDRAC settings via a script.

 

Dell Repository Manager ,v2.1
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=2RXX2

The repository manager as mentioned is a tool you can use to download only the updates required for your systems. Think of it like WSUS (ish).

 

Dell License Manager
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=68RMC

The iDRAC is the same on every system it is only the licence that changes. To apply the Enterprise license, you’ll need the License Manager.

 

Hopefully this will help someone keep their Dell Environment up to date. Note that I have NOT called out any Dell Storage items such as MD3xxx, Equallogic PSxxxx, or Compellent SCxxxx products. If I tried to, the list would be significantly longer. Also worth noting is that some vendors _networking_ products have similar add ins, so don’t forget to look for those as well.

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Dell announces 13G PowerEdge

September 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Everyone knows I like me some Dell rack mount servers, and the PowerEdge line was updated today it looks like. 

A collection of links if you will:

Dell’s Community TechCenter Wiki:
http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/extras/w/wiki/7520.dell-13th-generation-poweredge-server-resources?dgc=SM&cid=259733&lid=5354034

Direct2Dell Blog Update:
http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/direct2dell/b/direct2dell/archive/2014/09/08/today-39-s-the-day-links-to-blogs-videos-and-more-on-the-13th-generation-of-dell-poweredge-servers

Some of the major highlights that I find interesting:

  • Availability of the R630, R730, R730xd, T630, and M630 blade servers.
  • Intel E5 v3 Xeons, with up to 18 cores (up from 12 previously)
  • DDR4, and 24 DIMM slots (still, unfortunately – here’s hoping 32-64GB DDR4 starts becoming more readily available – and affordable)
  • 1.8” SATA SSD’s, providing 2.4x the IOPS compared to the same footprint 2.5” SSD’s.
  • PERC9 storage controllers
  • OEM partnership with SanDisk (FusionIO) for a ton of SSD acceleration software solutions (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/08/dell_stuffing_servers_with_sandisk_caching_software/)
  • iDRAC Direct for USB based updating of servers – previously only really available as a virtual ISO type of solution.
  • iDRAC Automatic Configuration, using a central repository

I’ve been very fond of the R610 and R620 solutions, and it looks like the R630 is a winner.  (More details at http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/poweredge-r630/pd).  I love to put these up against blade solutions, where density is important.  Yes, R730’s could be used in a 2U form factor, but if your other option is a blade server, truly you’re competing with a 1U highly dense server.  Let’s look at what you can do with an R630:

  • 2x Intel E5-2660 v3 10 Core/ 12 Thread CPU @ 2.6GHz and 105W.  Personally I’d prefer to use the E5-2650L v3 12c/24T, but at 1.8GHz I’ve run into too many pieces of software that ‘care’ about the speed of the CPU (I’m looking at you Cisco, with your WebEx/UC solutions that demand more CPU that it ever actually uses, and is barely supported in a virtual environment) that makes me want to suggest a higher GHz CPU
  • 24x 16GB DDR4 for 384GB total
  • Chassis with up to 24x 1.8” SSD.  Likely I wouldn’t use this, but one with the 10x 2.5” chassis and no optical.  But just imagine 24x 1.8” 200GB SSD’s as a VSAN….
  • 1x 120GB SSD – can’t hurt to have one around for VFRC or PernixData type solutions, and the configurator makes you pick at least one HDD.  At $260, with warranty, why not. 
  • 1x PERC H330 – don’t need anything fancy if we intend to be diskless
  • 4x Broadcom 57840S 10GbE SFP+ onboard, or upgrade to Emulex OneConnect OCm14104-U1-D port for $80 more (here’s hoping they’re better than they are in IBM servers, but I blame the IBM UEFI implementation for that)
  • Dual Hot Plug 750W Power Supply
  • Dual SD with 16GB SD cards and ESXi embedded
  • iDRAC8 Enterprise with vFlash 16GB
  • 3 Year Warranty

Web price comes to $18,162, and I’ve seen customers get 30-40% depending on time of  year, etc.  So let’s suggest 35% – That’s $12,000 or so for 20 cores, 384GB, and 4x 10GbE.  That’s a hell of a server in 1U.  24 months ago, I bought similar R620’s with 16 cores, 256GB, 2x 10GbE LOM for $9700 – and these would get significantly better performance as those weren’t even v2 E5’s vs v1’s.  Also so much better than 12-16 DIMM slot blade servers that just don’t get any real density!

Now if you’re doing any sort of VSAN, or even just have local reasons to want DAS solutions, check out the R730XD server – especially this one:

At first glance, I thought “great, another 8x 3.5” chassis, with wasted space for vents”.  Look closer.  The top 1/3 is 18x 1.8” SSD.  Granted, at some point your PCIe based RAID controller would be your bottleneck, I’m sure, vs PCIe SSD’s – but that’s largely for throughput and not IOPS.  I have no doubt that the above solution could drive a ton of performance.  It is a bit of a shame they can still only drive 2x NVidia K2 Grid cards, but that’s largely a problem with 2U servers in general.  Still, if it could have done 3… that would have been even more amazing.

I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these, I’m pretty excited to actually get to use some of these features!

Categories: 13G, Dell