Provisioning a new server in the Data Center from Bare Metal has always been a challenge. There have been some advances, but they still fall short of where we need to be for a truly self configuring and provisioning dynamic data center.
We have many methods, in which to remotely manage a bare metal server in the data center, we can call someone in the data center, use a networked KVM, use a Lights Out device, or some other creative technology.
Short of having our servers being delivered to us pre-configured for our environment, for the most part we still have to at some point connect to the server to set it up so that it will be ready to be provisioned for whatever purpose it is intended for.
I was having a flashback last week about a story I heard way back when, that was sparked by the announcement of Citrix XenServer being embedded on HP Servers. I have to tell you I don’t even know if the following story is true, but here goes. The rumor was about negotiations between Citrix and Compaq way back when and how they were pondering using ICA as the protocol for connecting to their ILO devices. Like I said this rumor was from years ago, but I have never really forgotten about the “what if” scenarios if that had happened.
I love what Lights Out devices do for us, but I have never been a fan of the sluggish interface, when it comes to a console connection to the server, as the protocol used is not optimized for low speed or high latency connections. If you have ever tried to connect to a Lights Out device let’s say in England or in Australia, and let’s say you were Florida, then you will certainly know what I mean when I say that the current protocol for console connections to a Lights Out device isn’t the greatest experience.
Also, trying to identify and manage a data center that has servers that are racked but not yet assigned or configured to be able to be provisioned can be a tough task to get a handle on, or one that can get out of control very fast.
There have been advances in Lights Out technologies that allow them to be managed from Active Directory, but it isn’t a complete solution to the problem, as there is still a lot of initial work that has to go into being able to get the device into Active Directory first before one can even begin to manage it.
We need to be able to take server provisioning to the next level, and be able to drop a server onto the network, turn it on, and have it self-configure and self-provision. We have the server provisioning piece down quite well with Citrix Provisioning Server. It’s the self-configuration of a bare metal server that we need to look at next, if we truly want to be able to drop ship in servers to meet the growing data center demand.