How to Manage scale-out Power systems using OpenSource tools

Two questions, which I get asked frequently while discussions with clients on Power servers are –

“whether admins need to learn new tools to manage the systems” and “is managing these systems different than the Intel based systems” ??

With the new scale-out Power servers from IBM and OpenPower partners, which can run KVM or baremetal, the answer to both the questions is ‘No’ .

One can manage these Power servers using commonly used OpenSource tools like those based on PXE/DHCP for operating system deployment (eg. xCAT, custom DHCP/PXE setup etc) and IPMI based tools for hardware healthcheck and control.

1. Deployment and Configuration of Operating System using PXE/DHCP

Scale-out Power servers uses petitboot as the bootloader. It is compatible with the ubiquitous pxelinux behaviour with the exception, that these Power servers do not need to download the binary pxelinux loader.

Here is an example DHCP server configuration to deploy onto a Power server:

option conf-file code 209 = text;
host power_host_name {
     hardware ethernet power_host_macaddress;
     fixed-address power_host_ip;
     option host-name "power_host_name";
     option conf-file "fedora.cfg";
     option path-prefix "http://boot_server_ip/";

A very good reference material is the following article by Jeremy on petitboot.

2. Hardware Healthcheck and Control using IPMI

Scale-out Power servers supports Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) which makes it possible to use IPMI based tools for checking health and remotely controlling these servers. In other words, you can use tools like Nagios to monitor the health of these servers.

For eg.

For power cycling
ipmitool -I lanplus -H <fsp_host_ip_or_name> -P <password> chassis power cycle

For checking the chassis status
ipmitool -I lanplus -H <fsp_host_ip_or_name> -P <password> chassis status

To get the SOL console
ipmitool -I lanplus -H <fsp_host_ip_or_name> -P <password> sol activate

For listing all sensor data
ipmitool -I lanplus -H <fsp_host_ip_or_name> -P <password> sdr list

For listing only temperature sensor
ipmitool -I lanplus -H <fsp_host_ip_or_name> -P <password> sdr type Temperature

Hope this will be of some help to you when deciding on your next hardware procurement.


Pradipta Kumar Banerjee

I'm a Cloud and Linux/ OpenSource enthusiast, with 16 years of industry experience at IBM. You can find more details about me here - Linkedin

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