Enhanced Server Management with Performance Improvements to the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller - iDRAC7

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Enhanced Server Management with Performance Improvements to the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller - iDRAC7

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This post was written by Florin Dragan and Meghna Taneja of the Enterprise Remote Management Firmware team.

Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers can be easily and remotely managed by the iDRAC.  In response to our customers’ feedback, the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller version 7 (iDRAC7) was designed to deliver significant performance improvements from its predecessors.  For example, Dell has made great performance gains on key features of the iDRAC7 Enterprise such as Virtual Console, Virtual Media, firmware update, and remote operating system installation.

This blog post discusses these features and their improved performance on the iDRAC7.

iDRAC7 Firmware Update

One of the items customers asked us to improve upon was the time it takes to update the iDRAC firmware.  Now, updating the iDRAC7 firmware takes 3 to 4 minutes. Previously with the iDRAC6 it took more than 10 minutes. This is a 60% to 70% time savings.

Using Virtual Media

A key feature of iDRAC7 Enterprise is Virtual Media (vMedia), which allows users to install operating systems remotely by presenting a virtual disk drive to the managed server.  On the iDRAC7, install times of the Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 OS have improved by approximately 135%.  Where it once took 1 hour and 10 minutes to install the OS on Dell PowerEdge 11th generation servers via iDRAC6 using Virtual Media, it now takes only 30 minutes with the iDRAC7 running on a similarly configured Dell PowerEdge 12th generation server.

Using the Remote File Share feature

An operating system can also be installed remotely using the Remote File Share (RFS) feature of iDRAC7. With RFS, it takes about 25 minutes to install Windows Server 2008 on a Dell PowerEdge 12th generation server. In contrast, it takes more than 40 minutes to install the same OS on a Dell PowerEdge 11th generation server.

Using the Virtual Flash feature

Another feature available on both 11th and 12th generation Dell PowerEdge servers is Virtual Flash (vFlash).  vFlash is a local storage device available on an SD card in the server. This local storage can contain firmware and OS backup images and is very useful in cases when the network bandwidth to a remote server is slow because the images on the SD card do not need to be transferred over the network.

vFlash Storage Enhancements

The latest iDRAC7 vFlash storage enhancements include:

  • Front panel accessible SD slot for vFlash on 12th generation of Dell PowerEdge servers. iDRAC6 had the SD slot on the back of the server.
  • The latest vFlash is three times faster than its predecessor. It now takes about 13 minutes to transfer a 1GB image while it took about 38 minutes on an 11th generation PowerEdge server.
  • Any compatible SD card is supported on 12th generation servers while with the 11th generation, only Dell SD cards unlocked certain features. 
  • Creating an empty vFlash partition now takes seconds, where before it took minutes.

Using the Virtual Folder feature

For customers who do not have a media option (CD, DVD, USB stick) on the remote client, Virtual Folders are another great feature available on Dell PowerEdge 12th generation servers that helps customers transfer files from their hard drive (on the client) to the server remotely. Using Virtual Folders, it takes about 8 seconds to map a 1GB folder to the server.

Using the Virtual Console feature

Last but not least, the latest generation of Virtual Console (vConsole) is now the state-of-the-art feature available on iDRAC7 Enterprise equipped servers. vConsole now supports high-speed video encryption and compression, higher video resolution, and custom settings to optimize the console for performance or quality via a performance slider bar.

This ability to adjust vConsole performance means that Virtual Console can be used in low bandwidth network environments.

Conclusion

In summary, the following table highlights the performance gains on the iDRAC7 Enterprise versus its predecessor, the iDRAC6                                                                  

Feature

iDRAC6 Enterprise

iDRAC7 Enterprise

Percentage Improvement

Firmware Update

~10 minutes

~4 minutes

 250%

Virtual Media (W2K8 OS Install)

~70 minutes

~32 minutes

~135%

Remote File Sharing (W2K8 OS install)

~40 minutes

~25 minutes

~60%

Virtual Flash (Transfer 1 GB image)

~38 minutes

~13 minutes

~300%

Virtual Console

Good

Improved performance & new features

 

Dell is listening to customers- the 12th Generation of Dell PowerEdge Servers were developed based on feedback from 7000+ discrete companies that use Dell products.  The results of this attention to customer needs are evident in the iDRAC7, with it's greatly enhanced performance that will make life easier for the IT Administrators that use Dell Servers.

From firmware updates to Virtual Console, Virtual Media, Remote File Share, and Virtual Flash, Dell continues to improve your overall iDRAC7 Enterprise experience.

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