Remote management of Isilon clusters in "lights out" data center environments

NOTE: This topic is part of the Uptime Information Hub.

 

When deploying an Isilon cluster into a "lights out" data center environment, two aspects must be considered: remote access to the node consoles and remote power management.

 

Setting up your cluster to be connected through a remote serial terminal console is not only supported, but is a recommended Isilon best practice to avoid the need to visit the nodes in person. A console server (sometimes referred to as a serial console, serial terminal console, or serial terminal server) is a device that allows you to connect to a node's management port by opening a serial session and TCP port.

 

Remote console access

 

Within our own Dell EMC Isilon environment, we utilize several types of console servers, including the Cyclades TS-2000, Avocent AVS 5000, 6000, and CCM1650 console servers. Our one caveat when using remote console access is that you must use high-quality cabling to ensure that no cross-talk contaminates the serial connection.  In rare incidences, we have seen nodes with noisy cables issue a break in the node boot cycle. A disconnection would require you to manage the nodes manually. This would be the case in any noisy serial connection, however, and is not a particular difference when using Isilon clusters; it is an important consideration in all data center cabling.

 

How to connect a console server to the management port of a node

 

  1. Connect the serial cable to the node's management port on the rear of the node.
  2. Connect the other end to the console server.
  3. Refer to the documentation for your console server and configure it using the following serial port settings:

 

TypeSerial port settings
Transfer rate115200 bps
Data Bits8
ParityNone
Stop Bits1


Remote power management

 

A remote power management solution enables you to control the power supply to the Isilon nodes remotely. In our environment, we use Server Technology Switched Rack Power Distribution Units to permit the remote individual control of power outlets within a rack via a network connection.

 

As you can imagine, in a development and engineering environment, we need to remotely control our nodes’ console interfaces and power-cycle the nodes on a daily basis. We leverage BIOS features, along with PDU management to affect boots on nodes. The Isilon node's BIOS permits either “Power On” or “Last State” after power is disabled and resumed by the switched PDU.  This enables us to cycle the power to our nodes, resulting in reboot and power-on. This way, even a node that has been ACPI powered-down will boot on the reset of the PDUs. To change this behavior, reboot each node with a console, enter the BIOS of the node using a connection to its console, and change the Server Management Resume on AC Power Loss option to “Power On” as illustrated in the following screenshot:

 

Aptio_Setup_Utility.jpg

 

Remote console access and power management should permit full lights-out management for your environment as it does in our own Isilon environments.

 

 

If you are using a remote serial terminal console to connect to Isilon nodes, provide us with your feedback about your experience using any other types of serial console servers or remote power management solutions. If you have questions or require clarification as you implement your remote management, feel free to let us know.