Server Management (BMC)


Modern server hardware is managed very differently than it was years ago. The servers have management integrated directly on the motherboard (BMC) and everything is controlled via a web interface.

Modern server hardware has a so-called BMC (Baseboard management controller) integrated directly on the motherboard. It’s basically a chip that monitors various hardware parameters (status, temperatures, speed, voltage, power consumption, various events) and can control it (turn on, turn off, change settings).

BMC offers a web interface to access all of these functions directly. The important thing is that this BMC is completely CPU and operating system independent and runs even when the server is shut down. Just when the power is connected, the BMC is running. Of course, this “eats” a few extra watts of power.

But that’s not all. In addition to the web interface, BMC usually also makes KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) available. Through an application on your computer (usually a Java application) you can access the server monitor and control it with your keyboard and mouse. And you can remotely connect a CD/DVD or USB device (remote storage). More details about KVM in a future article.

Did your operating system crash? Did you accidentally cut yourself off due to a network or firewall configuration error on the server? Never mind, you don’t have to go anywhere. You can reboot or access the monitor remotely via the BMC server and therefore also the operating system console. From your chair in the office, or from home. You don’t have to go to the server even if you need to use some installation CD. All of this, of course, radically reduces the time needed to resolve faults – it can be done remotely from anywhere with Internet access, no need to run anywhere, technicians are not exposed to the drafts of the air conditioning in the server room. But it also takes away the last opportunity for technicians to move during working hours 🙂

This whole way of managing hardware is called IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface), which is a standard that addresses these things in general, defines the necessary protocols, how BMC communicates with the rest of the hardware, etc.

In addition to the web interface, various protocols are also available that allow you to communicate with BMC from other software. So you can then program your system to send commands to servers, find out their status, parameters and more. Of course there is also the SNMP protocol.

The server can be configured to send e-mail informational and error messages. So when a component starts to malfunction or break down, we know about it immediately, and we can find out exactly which component has the problem from the email, so we don’t have to do any complicated research and deduction.

With the Fujitsu servers we use in our data centre, BMC is a given, even in the lowest server ranges. So it will also be available to customers on dedicated servers.

Server management therefore has, offers and enables:

  • use via web interface (HTTP, HTTPS)
  • use via IPMI protocol
  • use via SNMP
  • use via SSH
  • user accounts with different permissions
  • monitor fan status – speed, temperature, faults
  • monitor the voltage
  • monitor energy consumption – current status, history
  • find out the hardware components – their parameters, status, serial numbers, etc.
  • switch on, switch off, restart
  • Scheduled power on and off – what time the server should be turned on or off
  • sending e-mail information and error messages
  • log of all events
  • KVM – monitor, keyboard and mouse, remote CD/DVD connection, USB

All of this together is another of the many reasons we’ve been able to reduce costs – it takes less time to install and repair, we can do it faster and more efficiently, so we need fewer technicians.