dell poweredge server

Server Team: The Dirt

Here is my assignment

Question: BIOS (32-bit) vs UEFI (64-bit)
Basic Input-Output System
Resides on a Chip on Computer motherboard
Responsible for “waking up components” on Computer
Runs bootloader that boots Windows (or other OS)
Configures system time
Configures boot order
Accessible via “ESC” or “F2” or “F10” or “Delete” keys
First step when powering on a Computer is the POST
POST ensures Hardware Configuration is valid and working
After POST, computer BIOS looks for Master Boot Record and uses it to launch the Bootloader
CMOS is a battery-backed Memory where BIOS stores various settings
Worthy to note is that EEPROM is more likely the storage space for settings storage on BIOS.
Maximum boot capacity of Hard Drive is 2.1 TB or less. Computers with >2.1TB cannot boot via BIOS
BIOS has 1MB of space to execute in
Apple started the trend in 2006 by launching EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) to replace BIOS.
Few manufacturers came onboard with the new replacement much later than Apple.

UEFI stands for “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.” The UEFI Specification defines a new model for the interface between personal-computer operating systems and platform firmware. The interface consists of data tables that contain platform-related information, plus boot and runtime service calls that are available to the operating system and its loader. Together, these provide a standard environment for booting an operating system and running pre-boot applications.
UEFI is newer than BIOS
UEFI has an emulator to run in 16-bit BIOS mode (for backward OS compatibility)
UEFI runs in either 32-bit or 64-bit.
UEFI is essentially a TINY operating system with different interfaces and features depending on PC Manufacturer
UEFI essentially does all that BIOS does with a few changes:

  1. Big technological upgrade from BIOS
  2. PC users never notice BIOS
  3. Works much better than BIOS in practice
  4. Supports more modern hardware and features
  5. UEFI standards reflect the past 30 years of PC evolution by describing an abstract interface set for transferring control to an operating system or building modular firmware from one or more silicon and firmware suppliers. The abstractions of UEFI Forum specifications are designed to decouple development of producer and consumer code, allowing each to innovate more independently and with faster time-to-market for both.
  6. UEFI implementation enables the ability for modern, high-level programming principals to be applied to the firmware space. There are many possible implementations of UEFI that encourage code reuse, modularization, flexibility and modernization. UEFI specifications contain interfaces that streamline and aid in firmware innovation by promoting interoperability between devices, software and systems.
  7. One typical implementation is done in high-level C programming language, which is fundamentally different than the Legacy BIOS by encouraging the use of modern software practices.
  8. UEFI specifications have benefits for both the business and consumer end-user. Across multiple interfaces, they support a more secure system, faster boot times, innovation and a faster time-to-market.
  9. UEFI standards allow for extensibility, modularity and easy prototyping during development.
  10. The implementation of UEFI specifications by BIOS vendors, operating system vendors and add-in card vendors gives way to more efficient development because they allow developers to reuse code during the building process.

Question: iDRAC Express vs iDRAC Enterprise
The Dell Remote Access Controller is a Dell designed hardware that provides advanced agentless systems management functionality. It operates independently from the server’s CPU and operating system. An integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) with Lifecycle Controller is embedded in every Dell PowerEdge server. It provides functionality that helps you deploy, update, monitor and maintain Dell PowerEdge servers with or without a systems management software agent.

Both Express and Enterprise allows:

  1. Local Configuration via USC
  2. IPMI 2.0
  3. DCMI 1.5
  4. Embedded Diagnostics
  5. Local OS Updates
  6. Driver Pack
  7. Encryption
  8. Shared NIC (LOM) rack/tower only
  9. IPv6
  10. Auto Discovery
  11. Auto Recovery
  12. Web GUI
  13. Remote CLI
  14. local / SSH CLI
  15. Serial Redirection
  16. Remote Config
  17. Remote Update
  18. NFC (if applicable)
  19. USB Front Panel Configuration
  20. iDRAC Service Module (iSM)
  21. SNMP Alwers
  22. Comprehensive Monitoroing
  23. Part Replacement
  24. Tech Support Report
  25. System Wipe
  26. Power Control
  27. Power Monitoring
  28. Supports 200-500 series Rack/Tower
  29. Racadm command line
  30. SMASH-CLP (via SSH)
  31. Telnet
  32. SSH
  33. WSMAN
  34. Shared NIC
  35. VLAN Tagging
  36. Dedicated NIC
  37. DHCP
  38. Dynamic DNS
  39. OS Pass-Through
  40. Role base authroity authentication
  41. Remote presence (Serial-over-LAN)
  42. Real time power meter
  43. Temperature monitoring
  44. Predictive failture monitoring
  45. Full agent-free monitoring
  46. Configurable tresholds
  47. Fan monitoring
  48. PSU/Mem/CPU/RAID/NIC/HD/Out of Band Performance Monitoring
  49. Remote agent-free Update Agent
  50. Embedded update tools
  51. Embedded OS deployment tools
  52. Embedded driver pack
  53. Remote Configuration
  54. Inventory export
  55. System restore / repurpose.
  56. Embedded diagnostic tools
  57. Server configuration restore
  58. Easy Restore
  59. Health LED / LCD
  60. iDRAC Direct
  61. Quick Sync
  62. iDRAC Service
  63. Embedded Tech Support Report
  64. Manual Reset for iDRAC
  65. Virtual NMI
  66. OS Watchdog
  67. Embedded Health report
  68. System Events Log
  69. Lifecycle Log
  70. Work Notes
  71. License management

On top of all the above, iDRAC Enterprise has the following additional features:

  1. Scheduled Updates
  2. Automatic Update
  3. Email alerts
  4. Performance Monitoring
  5. Backup & Restore Configurations
  6. Virtual Console for up to 6 users
  7. Virtual Console Chat
  8. Virtual Flash Partitions
  9. Virtual Media
  10. Virtual Folders
  11. VNC Server
  12. Remote File Share
  13. Crash Screen Capture
  14. Crash Video Playback
  15. Boot Record / Playback
  16. Power Capping
  17. Enterprise Group Power Management
  18. Directory Services (AD, LDAP)
  19. PK Authentication
  20. Two-Factor Authentication
  21. Network Time Protocol
  22. IP Blocking
  23. Single-Sign On
  24. VNC Connection to OS
  25. Quality / bandwidth control
  26. Power Treshold and Alerts
  27. Real-time power graphing
  28. Historical power counters
  29. Power capping
  30. Power Center integration
  31. Out of Band Performance Monitoring
  32. Part Replacement
  33. Remote Syslog
  34. Sync with Repository (scheduled updates)
  35. Auto Update
  36. Auto Recovery

Question: Difference between SATA and SAS?

Cheap Expensive
7,200rpm speed 10,000rpm / 15,000rpm speed
Low Inputs Outputs Per Second (IOPS) – about 80 High IOPS – up to 180
Good Highly Reliable
High Capacity Average Capacity
Up to 16 TB Drives Generally smaller than SATA

Question: 5 piece 600 GB drives in RAID 5
Answer: 2.4TB usable (4x read speed, no write speed gain), actual formatted capacity is closer to 2.35 TB after NTFS formatting

Question: Customer has an iPad. Teach him how to create / generate TSR logs from iDRAC.
Answer: Open Safari, browse to the IP address of the impacted server. Login with root/calvin on Pre-13 GEN servers or view the credentials for iDRAC at the front EST tag.
On iDRAC 9, go to Maintenance (at the top row of the screen) select Support Assist > Start a Collection.
If customer is not sensitive to giving out server debug information via e-mail, then select All options (System Information, Storage Logs, OS and Application Data [requires OS to be booted], Debug Logs > Hit Collect.
After an hour, go back into the iDRAC web page, Maintenance > Support Assist and look for the completed report pull. Forward to DELL using secure file transfer.

Question: Why do we install iSM?
Answer: The iDRAC Service Module
The following services can be added to iDRAC with iSM

OS information
Lifecycle Controller Log replication into operating system
Automatic system recovery
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) providers inclusive of storage data
SupportAssist collection (formerly known as Automatic Technical Support Report Collection)
NVMe PCIe SSD device removal support

Only Lifecycle Logs and Storage logs are available by default. Enabled Auto Dispatch capability added for Embedded SupportAssist (Windows only)

Question: How to get service tag when user only has RDP (no iDRAC or Physical access to server)
Answer: wmic bios get serialnumber

Question: Sequence of POST?

  1. DellEMC Splash Screen
  2. Lifecycle Controller: Collecting System Inventory
  3. BIOS ver / Model / IP v4 address
  4. Intel Ultra Path (Network)
  5. Memory tests
  6. BIOS drivers
  7. iDRAC
  8. PCIe, USB, Video
  9. Initializing Firmware Interfaces
  10. Enumerating Boot Options (from BIOS)
  11. Lifecycle Controller: Collecting System Inventory
  12. Boot from iDRAC Controller (?)
  13. Begin Windows boot sequence

Question: How to configure iDRAC?
Turn on the managed system.
Press during Power-on Self-test (POST).
In the System Setup Main Menu page, click iDRAC Settings. The iDRAC Settings page is displayed.
Click Network. The Network page is displayed.
Specify the network settings.
Click Back, click Finish, and then click Yes.

Philip Khor
Technical Support Engineer 1
Dell EMC|Support and Deployment Services

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