Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There's tons of rack-mount stuff around. What accessory you didn't know back then and now can't live without?

HTTP controlled power switch with ACL has saved a lot of time. Just give customer access to power-off/on their own server anytime so they don't have to call every time they've broken their server.

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Mark Henderson Jan 14 '12 at 3:30

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Can you make this community-wiki? –  squillman May 26 '09 at 23:55
add comment

8 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

KVM over IP is nice, but depending on where you work it can be a hard sell to make the case and get your management to cut the check. If you use HP Proliant servers, you can order them with iLo, absorbing most of the remote management costs into the price of the server. Don't forget to budget the extra network ports you'll need. If you're retrofitting, personally I like the Raritan Dominion series best.

If it comes down to a choice between IPKVM and remote power control, choose the remote power control. Today's operating systems handle remote operations (SSH/RDP/VNC et al) well enough that you'd rarely need another means of KVM anyhow, and how often do you really need to make BIOS modifications from afar? You might give real consideration to skipping KVM altogether and using a few of these mobile PC stands. If you do real he-man debugging over the serial port, you can keep put a PC on it. If not, just keyboard and monitor. And maybe a little UPS.

mobile monitor stand

For remote power control, I like these APC vertical switched rack PDUs. There are a range of them to fit your needs. A really nice feature is that they always show how many amps are being drawn, so you don't overload your circuit breakers. Keep in mind that servers tend to draw more power at startup and when they get hot (think HVAC failure) so you want to run your circuits at 70-80% of max, or less. These PDUs will do a staggered startup so that if for some reason your are powering up the whole rack at once, you don't immediately trip the breaker. Along with vertical power management, don't forget to acquire short power cords in 1' and 3' lengths - this will make your racks a lot neater and easier to manage!

Remote power and KVM are as I mentioned earlier, sometimes a tough sell. But sooner or later they will turn what would have been a 4-12 hour outage into something that's solved within 45 minutes or less.

Over in the network distribution part of the room, I am a big fan of NeatPatch. This picture really says it all:

NeatPatch

I should also mention these vertical patch panels, which I have not tried:

alt text

Finally, this isn't rackmount, but I think server room monitoring is important. You need to know when the HVAC cuts out and the temperature starts rising! You may also want to have one with a camera so you get a security log of who's in there. I've been happy with NetBotz in the past, but if that's hard to get the boss to pay for (prices seem to have risen since APC acquired the company), you might have a look at the Weather Duck/Goose/etc from ITWatchDogs

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for APC power units with remote management –  martinr May 27 '09 at 0:38
    
+1 for WeatherGoose. Excellent value compared to NetBotz. –  dmoisan Jun 8 '09 at 14:05
    
+1 - Neatpatch rocks. –  Evan Anderson Mar 25 '10 at 1:56
add comment

The AMP NETCONNECT MRJ21 System. It's like an extension cord for your switch. You only have to run 8 thick cables instead of 48 CAT6 cables. We had a horrible mess of cables going from rack to rack before discovering these.

share|improve this answer
    
Nice; I'll have to look into these! Thanks. –  quux May 27 '09 at 0:05
1  
Better said as one cable instead of six (or twelve if you're limiting to 100Mbit). Still a decent improvement. –  LapTop006 May 27 '09 at 2:20
    
@LapTop006 Whoops! You are right. In my mind I saw 1 very thick cable instead of the 8 somewhat thick cables. I fixed my answer. –  Joseph May 27 '09 at 11:14
add comment

The IP-KVM has been very nice to have around. Remote access into the datacenter, and especially good for servers that don't have some kind of remote-access-card built in.

share|improve this answer
add comment

These days KVM-over-IP is a waste as all good servers have some version of remote management built in, whether IPMI or HP's excellent iLO, just make sure to not use versions which share a NIC as those have BAD failure modes if the NIC dies.

Personally I love serial concentrators for the few bits of gear that haven't added management ethernet ports.

For dark cable racks permanent gooseneck LED lights can be great, although I don't have any favourites there.

In the weird and wacky realm there's things like rackmount fridges: http://www.canford.co.uk/Products/13-024-CANFORD-FRIDGE-Rackmount-13U

share|improve this answer
add comment

Hosts with a BIOS that works over the serial port, USB serial adapters and Paul Vixie's rtty (packaged as remote-tty in Ubuntu and Debian) logging continuously.

The primary advantage of this system is that when a server spews a huge amount of information out to the console and then wedges or reboots, you have a complete log of what happened, as well as what anybody was typing on the console up to that point.

share|improve this answer
add comment

KVM over IP devices - if I'm fiddling with something that might break the network connection or interrupt the next boot, they're a life-saver.

I've only used a few models, but the Lantronix Spider KVMoIP has been my favorite so far. It worked perfectly when I needed to change BIOS settings for a dedicated server.

If pricing is an issue, you could only get one - have the colo techs plug it in to the server in question when required.

-

Also, if you're going to give customers access to the power switch - please make sure the BIOS's "AC Power Loss Restore State" setting is turned to "On".

share|improve this answer
add comment

For racks at remote sites, reed switches on the doors hooked up to your monitoring systems. Preferably a webcam to.

When you see a door open event about 30 seconds before everything goes offline, it makes troubleshooting the problem that little bit easier.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'm going to turn your question around - I've found something that specifically isn't rack-mounted that I find better than its rack-mounted equivalent (for us anyway).

We use blades for 98% of our servers and often don't need KVM access...EXCEPT that one time when you just do need it of course!

So rather than install a KVM into each rack we have 'gurneys' instead. They're wheeled trolleys with an LCD glued to the top and a keyboard and mouse/trackball on a shelf below. In the event of having to KVM into a blade we simply wheel the thing along, connect in and off we go.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.