New iDRAC License Adds New Features Like Telemetry Streaming To Your Blade Servers

One very important consideration for choosing your blade server is the type of embedded management license you need.  I’ve seen organizations attempt to save money by going with the low end license offering for systems management only to find out it doesn’t include a crucial feature.  One such feature is the ability to see trends and get early warnings from a server before it alerts.  In this blog post I’m going to talk about the iDRAC license options for Dell EMC blade servers including a comparison of the different license versions and why you may want them.

What is iDRAC?

Dell EMC PowerEdge servers all have a dedicated systems management chip known as iDRAC 9 or integrated Dell Remote Access Controller, 9th generation.  (If you are familiar with HPe ProLiant servers, the iDRAC serves a similar function as the iLO.)   iDRAC provides a secure out-of-band, agent-less connection to allow for a user to manage the lifecycle of the PowerEdge server, even if the server is powered off.  It also offers both a HTML 5 GUI web interface and command line interface allowing administrators to perform remote management tasks like monitoring, managing, updating, troubleshooting and remediation.   Finally, iDRAC enables connectivity into other Dell Technologies datacenter management tools like OpenManage Enterprise and OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter.

What Features Come Free

iDRAC9 v4.00.00.00 released in December of 2019 and introduced new features including a new Datacenter License – see below for details.  Although there are 3 variations of the iDRAC license for Dell EMC blade servers: iDRAC9 Express, iDRAC9 Enterprise and iDRAC9 Datacenter, you really only have two to choose from.  There is not an option to buy the PowerEdge server without an iDRAC9 license, therefore the Express license edition is considered the base license.  All of the iDRAC9 4.00.00.00 licenses come with basic instrumentation with web GUI and API support, but here are the items available with all iDRAC9 licenses:

  • User Interfaces
    • HTML5 Web GUI
    • Redfish
    • WS-Man
    • IPMI 2.0
    • DCMI 1.5
    • RACADM
    • SMASH-CLP
    • Telnet
    • SSH
    • Serial Redirection
  • Connectivity
    • dedicated NIC
    • VLAN
    • IPv4/6
    • DHCP
    • static IP
    • dynamic DNS
    • iDRAC Direct (direct access from a local PC to a dedicated USB port)
    • Connection View
    • NFS v4
    • NTLMv1/2
  • Security
    • silicon root of trust in iDRAC and Boot
    • signed firmware updates
    • RBAC (role based access control)
    • local users
    • SSL/TLS encryption
    • FIPS
    • UEFI certs,
    • secure default Password (random)
    • Custom security login banner
    • PKI authentication
    • IP range filtering
  • Remote Presence
    • power control
    • boot control
    • serial Over LAN (SOL)
  • Power & Thermal
    • real-time power meter and graphic
    • temperature monitoring
    • customized exhaust temperature
    • power thresholds and alerts
    • historical power counters
    • temperature graphic
  • Health Monitoring
    • full agent-free monitoring
    • predictive failures (including drive Smart Alerts)
    • SNMPv1/2/3
    • fans
    • PSUs
    • Memory
    • CPU
    • RAID
    • NIC
    • direct attach storage enclosures
    • SSD wear levels
    • customized email alerting
  • Firmware Update
    • remote agent-free updates
    • embedded update tools (F10/iDRAC GUI)
  • Deployment
    • local configuration via F10 LC GUI
    • remote OS deployment
    • BIOS and RAID configuration pages
    • remote server configuration
    • import/export Server Configuration Profile (SCP)
    • OS driver pack
    • system inventory
    • system erase for server retirement / re-purposing
    • auto-discovery
  • Diagnostics, Service and Logging
    • SEL and Lifecycle Controller logs
    • diagnostic tools
    • server configuration restore
    • Easy Restore after motherboard replacement
    • health status LEDs
    • LCD on bezel optional
    • iDRAC Direct service port
    • remote and local iDRAC reset
    • virtual NMI
    • OS watchdog
    • SupportAssist Collection report
    • direct SupportAssist registration
    • work notes
    • license management
    • crash screen capture

If you’ve read this far, congratulations.  Give yourself a pat on the back and grab a nice cold one.  As you can see, the list is pretty extensive for a base systems management license, so let’s next look at what the iDRAC9 Enterprise and iDRAC9 Datacenter licenses offer.

iDRAC 9 Enterprise Features

In addition to the features listed above, the iDRAC9 Enterprise license adds:

  • Zero touch, auto-configuration
  • Automatic updates with synchronization with a repository
  • MAC Address Reporting (MARS)
  • Auto discovery via Layer 2 switches via transmit LLDP
  • Directory services (AD / LDAP)
  • 2-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • System lockdown mode
  • Easy multi-factor authentication
  • Integration with select Secure Enterprise Key Manager Solutions
  • Virtual media
  • Virtual Folders
  • Remote File Share
  • Virtual Console with HTML5 or VNC
  • Quality bandwidth control
  • Collaboration with up to 6 users
  • Virtual console chat
  • Group manager supporting linking up to 250 iDRACs
  • Out-of-band performance monitoring
  • Remote syslog for alerts
  • Power capping and integration with OpenManage Power Center
  • Crash screen video (agent-free with Windows Server OS)
  • Boot capture

iDRAC9 Datacenter License Features

Finally, the newest iDRAC9 license is the Datacenter license.  Added in December of 2019, the Datacenter license provides all of the above plus:

  • Granular insight and control
    • telemetry streaming – enables users to pick metric reports then choose a transport method (Rsyslog, Redfish SSE, Redfish Subscription or Redfisho Polling) and frequency (every 5 seconds – every 84,400 seconds)
      • metric reports include:
        • sensor data from NIC, FC HBA, CPU, memory, fans, sensors, thermal and storage
        • statistics from NICs, power, performance, GPU, storage and NVMe
        • metrics from CPUs, memory, PSUs, thermal, power, GPUs
    • system serial data buffer capture – snoops system serial data and stores it to be retrieved later for analysis and failure root cause
    • SMART logs for storage drives
    • GPU inventory and monitoring
    • SFP+ optical I/O inventory and monitoring
    • idle server detection – identifies any servers running idle for extended periods of time (aka zombie servers)
  • Enhanced security
    • iDRAC auto certificate enrollment for SSL certificates – polls the specified Certificate Authority (CA) and authenticates the SSL certificate using the credentials provided.  Can be done via the GUI, via server configuration profile or via script.
  • Thermal Manage – provides key thermal telemetry and associated control features
    • PCIe airflow customization – provides a comprehensive PCIe device cooling view of the server and allows cooling customization of 3rd party cards
    • custom exhaust control – specify the temperature limit of the air exiting the server to match your datacenter needs
    • custom Delta-T control – limits air temperature rise from inlet air to exhaust to right-size your infrastructure level cooling
    • system airflow consumption – displays the real-time system airflow consumption (in CFM), allowing airflow balancing at rack and datacenter level
    • custom PCIe inlet temperature – choose the right input inlet temperature to match 3rd party device requirements
  • Virtual clipboard  – a Dell EMC exclusive that enables cut and paste operations in iDRAC’s HTML5 remote console

UPDATED 2.13.2020

I failed to mention in the original post that the iDRAC9 Datacenter metric reports will not only deliver via the Redfish methods mentioned above, but it will also integrate into typical analytics solutions like Splunk, ElasticSearch and Grafana to name a few.

Summary of Features

Here is an easy chart to assist in choosing the right iDRAC9 license for your Dell EMC blade servers.

Feature Standard Features iDRAC9 Enterprise iDRAC9 Datacenter
Interfaces / Standards
RESTful API via Redfish x x
IPMI 2.0 x x x
DCMI 1.5 x x x
Web-based GUI x x x
Racadm command line (local/remote) x x x
Telnet x x x
SSH x x x
Serial Redirection x x x
WSMAN x x x
Network Time Protocol x x x
Connectivity
Dedicated NIC x x x
VLAN tagging x x x
IPv4 x x x
IPv6 x x x
DHCP x x x
DHCP with Zero Touch x x
Dynamic DNS x x x
OS pass-through x x x
iDRAC Direct – Front panel USB x x x
Connection View x x
Connection View – LLDP transmit x x
Security
Role-based authority x x x
Local users x x x
SSL encryption x x x
IP blocking x x x
Directory services (AD, LDAP) x x
Two-factor authentication x x
Single sign-on x x
PK authentication x x x
Secure UEFI boot – certificate management x x x
Lock down mode x x
Unique iDRAC default password x x x
FIPS 140-2 x x x
Customizable Security Policy Banner – login page x x x
System Erase of internal storage devices x x x
Easy Multi Factor Authentication x x
Auto Certificate Enrollment (SSL certs) x
Remote Presence
Power control x x x
Boot control x x x
Serial-over-LAN x x x
Virtual Media x x x
Virtual Folders x x
Remote File Share x x
Virtual Console x x x
HTML5 access to Virtual Console x x x
VNC connection to OS x x
Quality/bandwidth control x x
Virtual Console collaboration (6 users) x x
Virtual Console chat x x
Group Manager x x
Power & Thermal
Real-time power meter x x x
Power thresholds & alerts x x x
Real-time power graphing x x x
Historical power counters x x x
Power capping x x
Power Center integration x x
Temperature monitoring x x x
Temperature graphing x x x
PCIe airflow customization (LFM) x
Custom Exhaust Control x
Custom Delta-T control x
System Airflow Consumption x
Custom PCIe inlet temperature x
Health Monitoring
Full agent-free monitoring x x x
Predictive failure monitoring x x x
SNMPv1, v2, and v3 (traps and gets) x x x
Email Alerting x x x
Configurable thresholds x x x
Fan monitoring x x x
Power Supply monitoring x x x
Memory monitoring x x x
CPU monitoring x x x
RAID monitoring x x x
NIC monitoring x x x
HD monitoring (enclosure) x x x
Out of Band Performance Monitoring x x
Alerts for excessive SSD wear x x x
System Serial Data Capture x
SMART logs for Storage Drives x
Telemetry Streaming x
Update
Remote agent-free update x x x
Embedded update tools x x x
Sync with repository (scheduled updates) x x
Auto-update x x
Deployment & Configuration
Local configuration via F10 x x x
Embedded OS deployment tools x x x
Embedded configuration tools x x x
Auto-Discovery x x x
Remote OS deployment x x x
Embedded driver pack x x x
Full configuration inventory x x x
Inventory export x x x
Remote configuration x x x
Zero Touch configuration x x
System Retire/Repurpose x x x
Server Configuration Profile in GUI x x x
Diagnostics, Service, & Logging
Embedded diagnostic tools x x x
Part Replacement x x x
Server Configuration Backup x x
Server Configuration Restore x x x
Easy Restore (system configuration) x x x
Easy Restore Auto Timeout x x x
Quick Sync 2.0 (requires BLE/Wi-Fi hardware) 2 x x x
iDRAC Direct (front USB management port) x x x
iDRAC Service Module (iSM) embedded x x x
Alert forwarding via iSM to in band monitoring consoles x x x
Crash screen capture x x x
Crash video capture 4 x x
Agent Free Crash Video Capture (Windows only) x x
Boot capture x x
Manual reset for iDRAC (LCD ID button) x x x
Remote reset for iDRAC (requires iSM) x x x
Virtual NMI x x x
SupportAssist Report (embedded) x x x
System Event Log x x x
Lifecycle Log x x x
Work notes x x x
Remote Syslog x x
License management x x x

Additional Information

To find out more about Dell EMC’s iDRAC9, check out the links below.

iDRAC9 Spec Sheet – pdf

iDRAC9 Users Guide – PDF

iDRAC9 Version 4.00.00.00 Release Notes – PDF

iDRAC9 v.4.00.00.00 Redfish API Guide – PDF

iDRAC9 Version 4.00.00.00 RACADM CLI Guide – PDF

Support for Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller 9 (iDRAC9) – website

PowerEdge server lifecycle management with iDRAC9 – video by Product Manager, Doug Iler (a special thanks to him as I stole most of the above from him)

Dell PowerEdge: How to configure the iDRAC & System Management Options on servers – website

Dell EMC iDRAC 9 Review by StorageReview.com

 

Kevin Houston - Founder, BladesMadeSimple.comKevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 20 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin has worked at Dell EMC since August 2011 is a Principal Engineer and Chief Technical Server Architect supporting the Central Enterprise Region at Dell EMC. He is also a CTO Ambassador in the Office of the CTO at Dell Technologies.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer. No compensation has been provided for any part of this blog.