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I'm looking for a device/software/mechanism through which I can push one button, and all servers in the data centre would be turned on. However the servers need to be turned on in a specific order, and when one fails, a system administrator needs to be informed.

Any ideas?

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Your "servers" don`t have iLO/RAC/MP? – Nils Nov 16 '11 at 21:03
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Some APC's PDUs have configurable power delays. In APC's words...

Allows users to configure the sequence in which power is turned on or off for each outlet. This helps avoid in-rushes at start-up, which can cause overloaded circuits and dropped loads. Sequencing also allows users to predetermine which piece of equipment is turned on first so other equipment dependant on that unit will function properly.

That sounds like it might meet your needs.

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Easiest case: All servers react to Wake on LAN. Wake them in the desired order and check if they are alive with Nagios or something similar.

If that doesn't work, you will need networked PDUs with at least one outlet for every server, i.e. from APC. Then you can replace the WOL part from above with turning on the outlets in the desired order. This might work with SNMP or something vendor-specific.

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On recent server hardware, you have the ability to set systems to power-on automatically. In addition, you can configure a set or random power-on delay (to avoid overloading the circuit). This is usually a BIOS setting, but can help with restoring power in a particular order.

Outside of that, I'd always recommend a switched PDU (power distribution unit) for co-location facility deployments. Using one, you can have granular control over the power application and monitor/meter individual power ports. This can tie into your monitoring system.

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You have a few possibilities.

Wake on Lan in a script where you can be notified when a server is correctly rebooted or not.

Almost every recent servers have interface that allows you to connect to the server remotely to manage bios, booting option and remote started. With HP it's ILO:

We have a currently have a set up that use Zabbix. We have it configured to send email when a switch, server, printer is offline. We also monitor our UPS to send shutdown command on all our server, esxi, vm, switches, management console, router, etc when the power level are too low after power failure.

We then configured this zabbix to power up servers in the order we wanted. We can get notification when a server didn't reboot correctly.

Took a bit of work but was worth it.

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The fire department, maybe. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to slam your power grid with that many systems powering up all at once...but I'm not an electrician.

At least, I don't know if I'd trust it to an automated system to do something like that.

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I can't imagine the fire department would power up your servers... :-) – ceejayoz Nov 16 '11 at 17:47
They might have to clean up after it though if the right component goes kablooey. Then again if you pay one of them enough they might push buttons for you :-) – Bart Silverstrim Nov 16 '11 at 17:48
Turning them on in a specific order should avoid this problem, as you can stagger the power on over time to avoid overloads. – Sven Nov 16 '11 at 17:53
If there is a device that does that...that's why I said I don't know if I'd trust an automated system to do that. If it failed, there could be worse problems than what it's meant to solve. – Bart Silverstrim Nov 16 '11 at 17:54
We've had UPS's go bad on systems before where the battery died and it didn't pass power through...system shut off. So the component meant to prevent downtime caused downtime. Not a critical system though, that's why it wasn't redundant. You get the point... – Bart Silverstrim Nov 16 '11 at 17:56

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