By Dylan Kerling – Velocity Tech Solutions
The DRAC, short for Dell Remote Access Controller, is a piece of hardware that allows you to remotely access your Dell server over the network; allowing you to manage any number of servers without the need of being in the same location. It is a separate piece of hardware that is not standard in most Dell servers, aside from the latest higher-end servers. While the DRAC 5 and DRAC 6 share quite a bit of functionality, there are a number of new features that were added into the DRAC 6 that we will be covering in this write-up.
The DRAC is accessed by going through a web browser and typing in the IP assigned to the DRAC on the system. The default IP is 192.168.0.120 and the default username and password is root for username and calvin for password. Some of the key features of the DRAC have to do with what is called the virtual console. The virtual console is a feature that actually allows you to remote into any server on a network that has the proper type of DRAC and allows you to take full control of the machine even outside of an OS with full keyboard and mouse support. This obviously has lots of uses when it comes to system administrators who may need to work on a machine they might not even be in the same building with.
Along with the virtual console is something called virtual media. This allows you to take media on the machine you are remoting in from and run it on the machine with the DRAC as if it were being run through the DVD or USB drive of the machine. You can actually even run OS installations over a DRAC without even needing to be in front of the machine. Along with the virtual console is a well designed GUI that functions through the browser, that allows you to view most of the hardware and firmware information you could need about the server. Along with this, you can run CLI commands through DRACs that allow you to make changes to hardware based on console commands. The different types of CLI commands are IPMI, RACADM, and SMASH CLI.
Some of the key differences between the DRAC 5 and DRAC 6 are that the DRAC 5 has only one version that is standard across the entire 9th generation of PowerEdge servers. With the DRAC 6 there are actually three different styles you can use depending on your use case and type of server. There is the iDRAC 6 express, iDRAC 6 enterprise and iDRAC 6 vflash.
The primary differences between these are: The express only has access to the browser GUI and can’t utilize the virtual console. The enterprise version then adds a dedicated NIC port for the DRAC along with allowing the use of the virtual console. The DRAC 6 enterprise also adds something called remote file share which is basically an extension of the virtual media function on the DRAC 5. What this allows you to do is actually take image files from the over the network, direct the file to the DRAC and allows it to mount the image files as if they were virtual media. This adds the ability to direct images to a number of DRACs at the same time, allowing you to mass deploy media using commands. Vflash is the last type of DRAC 6. This is, in essence, a DRAC 6 enterprise that adds a SD card slot, allowing you to make bootable partitions on the card. You can also make these files accessible to OS’s installed on the system.
That covers the features and differences between the DRAC 5 and DRAC 6.
The overview video to this article at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGHj4uDoByI
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