Our focus today shines on our deployment and management tools for Linux. In this article, Blackcore’s Chief Technology Officer, James Lupton will guide you through the intricacies of this feature set and offer valuable perspectives on how to maximize the utility of these tools.
What do we mean by Linux Management Tools?
Most clients have a Linux deployment infrastructure and production environment. Linux is super powerful for scripting and automation, but you need the right tools to interface with the hardware. This article describes the tools we provide clients for server management and integration.
What tools do we provide?
Currently, we provide the following Linux tools:
- IPMI firmware update utility
- BIOS firmware update utility
- BIOS user profile management utility
- AMISCE – NVRAM variable management utility
- AMIDMI – DMI management utility
Linux tools are just one way to manage these functions, but typically these can also be managed by Redfish or WebUI.
Why do we provide them?
We are critically aware of the need for our clients to be able to deploy, maintain, and manage Blackcore servers via remote automation. We understand the process our clients go through - for example, the initial boot deployment process after a system is racked – engineers need to be confident the system will boot to PXE, download automation scripts, and have the correct provisioning information embedded for seamless deployment. We know that part of the provisioning process involves checking for firmware versions, confirming BIOS variables, and adjusting if necessary, based on deployment requirements.
An oft-repeated Blackcore mantra states that 100 systems must be as easy to deploy as 1 system.
For certain functionality required by clients, we realized that we needed to license some tools from AMI directly. This meant acquiring licensing rights not only to use the tools ourselves but to also deploy them for third party use.
However, the benefit of these tools to our clients was clear, so I’m glad to say it was worth going through the process to acquire these licenses.
We currently provide 2 tools directly to customers, AMISCE and AMIDMI.
AMISCE is a tool for interacting with the BIOS NVRAM. This allows a customer to export the current BIOS variable to a human-readable file and compare it against a known good version. Another use case is updating specific NVRAM variables from Linux, for example disabling Hyperthreading.
AMIDMI is a tool for editing certain DMI information. DMI data is incredibly important to the deployment process and having the wrong data can cause stuck or incorrect deployments. Whilst we endeavour for clients to never need to adjust DMI information, we decided that it was important to have a safeguard in place. There are also scenarios where it’s useful for customers to be able to adjust DMI entries during PoC and development phases of projects.
The Future & Feature Requests
We have tasked our internal software development team to further increase the level of tools and code examples available to make it as simple as possible for clients to integrate Blackcore into their existing ecosystem. Assets such as Prometheus integration guides, or redfish script examples will be coming soon.
Our immediate goal is replicating a typical customer deployment scenario in our labs, with our provisioning systems and scripts. This means we can guarantee client-specific configurations are applied across 100s of systems with absolute certainty. We’ll have more to share on this soon.
If you have any feature requests, we’d love to hear them, we’re always looking to improve our ecosystem!
How can I access these tools?
See the relevant support portal to get started.
If you would like to learn more about your options as a client, please email your account manager. If you are new to Blackcore and would like to learn more, you can email [email protected] or book a call with our CRO Ciaran Kennedy here.