Best Practices: Remote Access Cards

Version 4

    Remote Access Cards and Your MWG


    Why spending 5 minutes configuring RMM/DRAC now is worth it in the long run






    Do you have a MWG 5000, 5500, 5000b, or 5500b? If you do, and you haven’t configured your remote access card, you are missing out on some very useful functionality -- and you’d be well served to get it configured today.



    What are Remote Access Cards?



    Let’s assume for a moment that you are reading this document and you have never heard of RMM or DRAC. Remote Access Cards give you basically all the functionality of sitting directly in front of your appliance in your server room, but without all the noise/heat/leaving your desk.



    You can reboot -- power on from a true power off -- you can even re-image your appliance if needed. Beyond that, you are able to look at hardware health information, and the System Event Log.



    Your remote access card operates completely independently from the host system/OS. That means you can reboot your machine, or even power it off entirely, and you can still get access to your appliance. With the remote console, you can even get into your BIOS/RAID controller BIOS if needed, all from the comfort of your workstation outside of the server room and potentially hundreds of miles away from it.



    Which MWG appliances have remote access cards?



    All MWG 5000 and 5500 model appliances have remote access cards. The WG-5000 and WG-5500 both have DRAC, where the WG-5000B and WG-5500B models have RMM.




    How do I set up my remote access card?



    The steps are different depending on whether you are using RMM or DRAC. Both require a unique IP and a separate ethernet connection.





    First, connect your RMM to your network, you can find the RMM port on the back of your appliance:





    Boot your system into the BIOS (F2 at startup).Navigate to Server Management -> BMC LAN Configuration.






    Configure your IP address, subnet mask and Gateway IP for your Intel RMM LAN configuration, as shown here.

    NOTE: Do not configure your Baseboard LAN. Enabling both BMC and RMM can cause interface conflicts and lead to problems accessing your RMM.







    Finally, scroll down to the ‘User configuration’ section. You can define accounts and set passwords here. For now, just select the ‘root’ user, and change the password to something you will remember.





    Save the changes in the BIOS and exit, then you can allow your box to boot as normal. You should now be able to access your RMM GUI via HTTPS in the browser








    First, connect your DRAC to your network, you can find the DRAC port on the back of your appliance:




    On system boot, press CTRL+E to boot into iDRAC configuration. Select Lan Parameters and hit Enter.





    Enter your IPv4 Address, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway and DNS Server on this screen.





    Hit Esc to back out of the Lan Parameters section, then navigate to the Lan User Configuration and hit Enter. Enter the Username as well as the password you wish to define for initial DRAC access here.





    Next, access your iDRAC GUI via HTTPS in your Browser




    Remote Access Card Usability



    If you don’t have any pressing needs, you’re good to go. Simply having the remote access card configured and available if need be puts you a step ahead if and when you need to troubleshoot an issue or re-image an appliance.



    I’ll touch on a few main functionalities in both RMM and DRAC below:






    After logging into your RMM - you will be brought to the System Information screen. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of useful information or links on this tab. To locate your appliance’s serial number, click on the ‘FRU Information’ on the left-hand side.




    It’s also worth noting here that the ‘System Diagnostics’ section, while it sounds useful, actually isn’t. It outputs a password protected ZIP file which cannot be viewed by you or even MWG Support Engineers.



    A useful troubleshooting tool is the System Event Log, which can be found under Server Health -> Event Log. If you suspect you are having a hardware issue, you can often find evidence of that here.





    To power on/off or reboot the appliance from your RMM, you can do so under the Remote Control -> Server Power Control section.






    Lastly, and perhaps most important, you can gain access to the remote console under the Remote Control -> Console Redirection section of your GUI.





    From the JViewer console - you can interact with your appliance as though you were at the physical console - including modifying BIOS/RAID configuration as well as regular console interaction with your MWG and re-imaging.



    On the point of re-imaging, if you needed to do so, you can mount an ISO file to the virtual drive under the Device -> Redirect ISO option.





    Then, once mounted, you can reboot your machine, and then enter the boot menu by pressing F6 and proceed to re-image your appliance as normal.



    After logging in, you are brought to the System Summary (Properties -> System Summary) Screen, which gives you an overview of your appliance -- from this screen you can see your server information, recent entries to the SEL, and the Quick Launch tasks.




    You can perform most of the tasks you would want from this screen. You can get your system’s Service TAG from the ‘Server Information’ area, power on/off or power cycle the appliance and view the SEL from the Quick Launch Tasks area.



    Aside from power controls and the System Event Log - the other main area you’d want to be familiar with is the remote console access. This is accessible either by clicking on ‘Launch Viewer’ in the Quick Launch Tasks area, or under Console/Media -> Launch Viewer in the normal menus.



    Upon clicking ‘Launch Viewer’ - your DRAC will begin loading a java application (or ActiveX if you are using IE) to allow you to connect and interact with your appliance.





    From here, you can interact with your appliance as though you had a keyboard/monitor hooked up to it.



    Finally, if you wanted to use this remote connectivity to re-image your appliance, you can select Virtual Media -> Launch Virtual Media to map local ISO files to the virtual CD/DVD drive on your appliance. Then, onced mapped, you can reboot the appliance and bring up the boot menu (F11 at boot).






    Once selected, your device will boot off of the ISO image and you can re-image your appliance as necessary.






    I hope that this document has opened your eyes to the value of configuring your RMM/DRAC -- and the time savings it has the potential to bring to you. In my opinion, being able to handle the power states of your box, directly control the console/BIOS/RAID Controller and even re-imaging from the comfort of your workstation instead of standing in a server room seems to be well worth the 5 minutes it took to configure it initially.