The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), a standardized computer system interface, allows for remote monitoring of rugged computer system operation. The standard enjoys broad support from multiple manufacturers. It’s been around since the late 1990’s and has undergone multiple updates to offer broader functionality.
IPMI uses messages to communicate independently of the operating system via a hardware-level interface. This type of management is known as out-of-band. An in-band management tool would require application software running on the system. Some advantages to the out-of-band method are that it works before the OS boots, when the system is off, or after an OS crash. IPMI can be used for monitoring system temperature, fans, and voltages. Today’s systems support this functionality via a dedicated Ethernet port. There is also a side-band monitoring option that uses a non-dedicated LAN connection. This option can save some of the cost associated with running dedicated cabling to each monitored system.
The latest version of IPMI is ver. 2.0. This version has incorporated some new remote management capabilities such as keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) over IP. Remote virtual media is also supported in the newest standard. The more advanced functions can require the dedicated bandwidth of an out-of-band connection. Some common tasks an administrator might perform with a simple side-band text console include accessing the BIOS setup, power on, power off, or power cycling all from a remote workstation. This can be very advantageous for managing multiple servers or monitoring servers in diverse locations. Full video redirection is possible with a dedicated out-of-band connection.
So if you are tasked with managing large numbers of computers or servers that are geographically diverse you want to consider a system that offers IPMI. The first time you save a 100-mile roundtrip drive to reboot a server, you will appreciate the forethought of including it in your latest rugged computer configuration.
Rugged computer systems offered by Chassis Plans provide IPMI to assure reliable operation and diagnostics in hostile environments.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IPMI-Block-Diagram.png