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Im preparing to purchase a slew of servers from a vendor that touts 'IPMI 2.0' on the main board. I haven't bought any hardware in some time and I'm coming from a Dell/DRAC world where I need a KVM switch to do local logins.

Does IPMI give me this? I read conflicting answers where 'sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't'. And if it does, do I need a monitor/keyboard/touch pad combo on site to get a shell for a given server? Or can I bring a laptop with me and somehow get shell access?

What seems to be consistent among the various sources is that IPMI lets me reboot, do some BIOS work and even touch HW RAID controllers. This is great and if it will save me the $5K or so for the additional KVM parts it's even better. I'm just not clear on how.

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Which vendor? What parts? – Michael Hampton Dec 27 '12 at 0:24
I'm so confused by your statement : " I'm coming from a Dell/DRAC world where I need a KVM switch to do local logins." That's so far away from the truth, I don't even. DRAC, iLO, and RemoteSup all have IP KVM built in; you give the remote management card an IP, and bang, you have a console with full capabilities, and maybe even remote media mounting. – mfinni Dec 27 '12 at 0:50
Maybe the DRAC cards are in dire need of a firmware update but I've never seen any option of a local login. I've always used a KVM setup to get a 'direct' login. – ethrbunny Dec 27 '12 at 5:52
Maybe you have had only the basic features of DRAC (Dell Remote Access Card) They charge more to unlock features. The DRAC enterprise will give you the remote console and remote media mount support -… – Epaphus Dec 27 '12 at 12:11
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You should want to have out-of-band access on any server you co-locate. Your statement about Dell DRAC is unclear. Are you lamenting that you still need a monitor to see the server console during boot? IPMI and DRAC partially eliminate the need, assuming they're configured and you have network connectivity.

If you are sending technicians to the site, a dedicated crash-cart is handy. I don't see dedicated KVM devices (e.g. IP KVM, iKVM) very often these days since DRAC, ILO, ILOM, IPMI are easily had. (I wouldn't buy a server without one)

My personal approach is to use a Startech Laptop KVM console unit. It provides USB keyboard, mouse and VGA monitor connectivity. I keep it in my bag because it simplifies systems installations and provides a KVM-on-demand as long as I have a laptop handy. It's also good for working on PC's...

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I'll take a look at the Startech unit. TY. – ethrbunny Dec 27 '12 at 5:53

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