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Supermicro IPMI
Published on: October 9, 2013 by Mike

We have many years of experience with different kinds of motherboards and wide range of release variations, which are offered by Supermicro.

Supermicro motherboards stand out for their built-in IPMI, which provides remote Web-based access to the server. IPMI completes the following operations at a distance: start/reboot an operating system (OS), control of KVM-switch, and gives the certain information about a motherboard such as voltage, temperature etc. So now you may even handle lots of OS failure issues without physical presence in Data Centre.
We would like to introduce you to the advantages of IPMI as well as to its drawbacks.

Essential reasons to use IPMI:

•    There is no need to leave your working place to solve a great variety of problems which might occur to your server. You can manage and maintain the equipment in the Data Centre at a distance.
•    There are way more techniques with IPMI that are able to resolve most of the issues with a server from a distance. As an example of such an issue might be file system distortion.
•    There is the rich assortment of the tools to make Self-Service accessible. They allow performing such operations as re-installing OS, troubleshooting and so on without creating a Support Ticket.

Unfortunately, we encounter a few disadvantages:

•    According to the users’ comments it would be beneficial for Supermicro to improve their security. In case of security failure Supermicro is not likely to react in a timely effective manner. There might be no patch for older boards as well. 
•    There is a lot to be desired when it comes to IMPI configurations. Sometimes to activate the Web interface you would have to run the networking configurations through BIOS and only upon re-arrange it, occasionally numerous times on the same motherboard.
•    Sensitive network on the IPMI might lead to the situation when after unplugging the IPMI control port on a motherboard for some reason, the network will not restore. In this case we would have to shut down the server and re-install, which at times cannot be accessible for a client.
•    Web interface restoration failure might occur upon repair. Having done the patching via WebUI or CMD in the past, we had to reboot the nodes or conduct the complete network re-configuration. But soon enough we found out the advantages of the Linux cmdline which makes it much easier to deal with.
Please don’t be scared by the drawbacks listed above since it would be noticeable only if you manage about 1000 servers. 

You will benefit from the advantages way more than suffer from slight imperfections. It’s not viruses matter, what really matters is your attitude to them.

I have a few tips to ensure your Supermicro IPMI configurations are easy to manage and deal with,

Here are the instructions to make your IMPI configurations convenient to you:
1.    If available put your IPMI Web Interface on a private network.
2.    Always apply IPMI to the latest firmware release.
3.    Always apply the underlying motherboard BIOS to the latest release.
4.    Always disable the default guest and default user accounts
5.    Replace the default “ADMIN” with a custom admin login
6.    Back-up and familiarize yourself with the varying Supermicro IPMI cmdline utilities.

We hope the information provided in this article has given people a better understanding of IPMI when used in conjunction with Supermicro motherboards. If anyone would like to share their experiences on implementing Supermicro IPMI's, we would be delighted to hear them.

IPMI, Supermicro, Motherboards, BIOS

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