Another Dell Innovation – Lifecycle Controller

Perhaps one of Dell’s best kept secrets on their 11G servers (blade, rack and tower) is something called Lifecycle Controller. This innovative offering allows a user to configure the hardware, run diagnostics and prep the server for an operating system. “SO WHAT?” you are probably thinking – “HP and IBM have this with their SmartStart and ServerGuide CD’s!” Yes, you are right, however Dell’s innovation is a flash based device embedded on the motherboard that does all this – there are NO CD’s to mess with this. Out of the box, you turn it on and go.

What can Dell’s Lifecycle Controller do?  Here’s a partial list taken from Dell TechCenter:

  • Basic device configuration (RAID, NIC and iDRAC) via simple wizards
  • Diagnose the system using embed Diagnostics utility
  • OS install by unpacking the drivers for the user selected OS
  • Drivers are embed for systems with iDRAC Express, Lifecycle Controller
  • Drivers are available on Systems Management Tools and Documentation media for systems with Baseboard Management Controller (BMC)
  • Advanced device configuration for NIC and BIOS. This is available only in systems with iDRAC Express
  • Update BIOS, firmware and stage updated drivers by directly connecting to relevant updates on This is available only in systems with iDRAC Express
  • Roll back firmware to a last known good state. THis is available only in systems with iDRAC Express
  • Supports 7 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
  • Auto-discovery of bare metal systems. iDRAC can be configured in factory or using USC to connect and authenticate to a provisioning console
  • Install OS on the discovered system using drivers resident on the Lifecycle Controller
  • Install custom OS image – allows users to install OS that does not have the desired drivers on the Lifecycle Controller
  • Install OS by booting from service image on a network share
  • Remote out-of-band instant Firmware Inventory of installed and available firmware images
  • Bare metal out-of-band updates – Remotely initiate offline BIOS, firmware and driver pack update and schedule updates

Kudos to Dell on this innovation.  No CD’s means potentially faster deployment.  If you wonder – can the data on the Lifecycle Controller be updated?  The answer is YES – go to Dell TechCenter and check out the video on “Product Updates” (or click here to view directly.)

Let me know what you think about this.  Do you see this as being helpful?