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Re: KVM question - skip this technology entirely

 On Mon, May 12, 2008 at 09:34:37AM -0400, Jerry Feldman wrote: 
> I just looked at the Supermicro IPMI cards, and they run roughly just 
> under $100 to $200 depending on features.  I didn't check Dell DRAC 
> because we have no Dells, and we have ILO on the 3 HP Integrity 
> servers.  The IPMI also has a virtual media over LAN capability. I 
> think the basic decision will be based on the recommendation from our 
> Toronto Data Center people. 

Do yourself a favor and avoid IPMI at all cost. It *sucks*. You wouldn't 
believe how poorly these things are implemented. 

IPMI is a poor substitute for ILO. For IPMI to function properly, the main 
system needs to be somewhat functional. It's entirely possible to get the 
host computer in a state (say, crashed) that takes the IPMI down with it. 

Also, it's dead easy to crash an IPMI card - my favorite way to do so for 
Supermicro's IPMI cards (v1.5 and v2 last time I tried) is by redirecting a 
serial console through it and then sending a lot of data over serial. A cat 
of a large file for instance. The IPMI card just hangs after a few seconds. 

The hoops you have to jump through to get the IPMI card configured properly 
are significant - you need bootable DOS floppy/usb keys to flash a firmware 
onto the IPMI adapter, set ip address and netmask, etc. Ipmitool can do the 
latter, but some models need to have the IPMI adapter ip address set in the 
nic firmware, too, which ipmitool can't do... 

Also, depending on what flavor of IPMI you get and how it's implemented on 
your particular board, you'll need to make sure the IPMI card is set to 
exactly the same MAC and IP address as the NIC it's piggy-backed on (I kid 
you not - the *same* MAC address), or alternatively it must *not* have the 
same IP and MAC address as that interface. Read the documentation and be 
prepared for a great deal of confusion. 

I wasted a royal amount of time with IPMI on a project with 96 or so 
supermicro servers. More often than not the IPMI card was not reachable when 
it was needed. Oh - yeah, when your IPMI card is crashed, the only reliable 
way to recover it is to cut all power to the entire machine - unplug the 

In the end we gave up on IPMI, bought remote power switches and opengear 
remote console servers (highly recommended) and called it a day. 


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