DISCLAIMER: I “used” to work for Dell
In January 2011, Dell released a new Management Plugin for vCenter that allows administrators to monitor and maintain Dell 11G servers directly from the vCenter. While the plugin is not free, it does provide value. I had a chance to play around with the plugin and thought I’d share some information on the installation and configuration.
To begin I can’t stress enough…RTFM! Before starting the installation, please read the README.TXT file and the User Guide included with the software. There is some important pre-requisites about firmware versions of Dell’s iDRAC and LifeCycle Controller that must be met for the plugin to work correctly. I did my installation and testing on ESXi 4.1. The plugin works with ESX 4.0 and ESX/ESXi 4.1. I chose ESXi as VMware has already stated that 4.1 will be the last version that is available with the “classic” install, i.e. a Service Console. As ESXi doesn’t have a service console, the installation is a tad different then with ESX Classic.
Some things you’ll need to get up and running:
- Dell Management vCenter Plugin (a self extracting EXE)
- Either the VMware vMA appliance or the Remote CLI
- The latest Dell OMSA VIB for your server
- Obviously, a Dell 11G server running ESX/i and VMware VirtualCenter (Some basic monitoring features are available for 10G servers, again – read the docs)
Let’s get started…The first thing I had to do was upgrade my R810’s iDRAC to 1.54 and LifeCycle Controller to 1.4. This was easy to do using Dell’s Repository Manager tool. After running the self-extracting EXE for the Management vCenter Plugin, you end up with a folder with a couple files (disregard the downloads folder):
One of the requirements for the vCenter Plugin is to have the Dell OpenManage Server Administrator agent (OMSA) install on the host. With ESX, its a matter of SFTP’ing the binary to the host and running the install shell script. However, ESXi is a little different. There is no service console to run the agent, nor can you SSH into the host and run commands. This is where you need VMware’s Remote CLI, or run the VMware vMA appliance to manage ESXi host scripts and agents, in this case the Dell OMSA vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB). The OMSA VIB can be downloaded from http://support.dell.com. Using the following command from the Remote CLI installs the VIB:
C:Program Files (x86)VMwareVMware vSphere CLIbin>vihostupdate.pl -server <server IP address> -i -b OM-SrvAdmin-Dell-Web-6.4.0-1266.VIB-ESX41i_A00.7.zip
You’ll be prompted for the hosts username and password, after a few minutes the installation will complete. YOU MUST REBOOT THE HOST! In my experience restarting the management network is not enough.
The next step is using the vSphere Client to import the OVF file of the Management Console plugin appliance. In VirtualCenter, click on File, Deploy OVF Template. Locate the extracted OVF file from the Dell Management vCenter plugin folder and begin the import process. Once the appliance is imported, power it on.
When you first start the CentOS based appliance it will reboot one time, then prompt you to set the admin password. Once the password is set, you’ll see a http link and options for configuring network settings, time zones, and other appliance management tasks.
The next step is to open a browser and connect to the appliance. Log in with the password you set in the previous step. Click on VCENTER REGISTRATION on the left side and enter the VirtualCenter IP address and credentials of the VirtualCenter server that has the 11G Dell hosts you wish to manage. This will register the plugin with VirtualCenter
With the OMSA VIB installed, the appliance configured and the vCenter plugin registered we’re ready to start using the plugin right?…..WRONG!!! This step hung me up for a while. In troubleshooting why I couldn’t get any inventory, I found an article about configuring OMSA on ESX/i 4.1 hosts. You need to change a value in the Advanced Settings section of the configuration tab for the host. Under UserVars, set CIMoemProviderEnabled from 0 to 1. I was stuck here for a while because after this setting is changed, you MUST reboot the host again as just restarting the management agent doesn’t work.
Once the host is rebooted, you can now access the plugin from the VirtualCenter Home page (disregard any certificate warning – to be fixed in next version):
The first time you launch the Management Plugin, a wizard will guide you thru creating a Connection Profile. Enter the credentials for the iDRAC of the server and the ESXi host. For a classic ESX server you can also enter the OpenManage Server Administration URL. You can test the connection of the profile on the same screen.
You will also be asked when to run Inventory and Warranty Status jobs. I decided to run the Inventory everyday at 3am and the Warranty Status once a week at 3am. You can force the jobs to Run Now under Job Queue from the left side menu.
If you’ve had any issues with your Connection Profiles, your inventory and warranty history jobs will fail. This is either due to a failed OMSA VIB installed, or the CIMoemEnableProvider setting assuming you’ve eliminated any other basic networking issues. If you have successfully collected data, click on the host in VirtualCenter. You’ll now notice a “Dell” tab.
That’s it! As you can see, I only have one power supply on this R810 connected which is why you see the Critical alert on the page. There are several option to view on the left side. You can also access the remote console of the iDRAC. If this was a classic ESX host, you could also access the OpenManage Server Administrator web site. However on ESXi the web service is not there (remember, no service console)…To access OMSA on ESXi….that’s a different post! 🙂 Also, you can right-click hosts in VirtualCenter and get a “Dell” context menu with some same tasks.
I hope to do some more follow-up posts on the some more of the features of the Dell Management Plugin for vCenter .