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We host computers and servers for clients. When their machines crash we need to reboot these machines. However this is not possible when we are out of the office. I know on servers such as HP you get Lights Out which allows you to login across the internet and power cycle a crashed server that is stuck on a blue screen. Is there any hardware like a PCI card or something that we can get to do this for other computers and servers that we host which dont have lights out capability?

Thanks

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5 Answers

You're looking for a managed / remote power switch, I would guess.

There are a variety of controller power switches out there that will take RS-232 / serial management interfaces. (I'll include links to a couple products below. They are not inexpensive, typically.)

Some UPSs have switchable output groups and to allow you to power-cycle outlets on the UPS via its management interface. Be sure to look into that.

As you say, a "lights out" management card can typically power-cycle the host system from that management interface as well. I don't know of any third-party solutions for this as, typically, it requires the motherboard to "play along". You might be able to swing something with Intel vPro-based chipsets since, really, vPro is just a second computer built into the motherboard chipset.

Finally, here's a how-to "do it yourself" article, but I'd highly recommend against doing anything like this for a serious datacenter environment.

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Yes, it's called a stonith (shoot the other node in the head) and is built into to some UPS devices.

Look for hardware stonith

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Okay will have a look around, thanks –  user14930 Aug 18 '09 at 15:22
    
That seems to be a linux tool, is there a windows equivalent that you know of? –  user14930 Aug 18 '09 at 15:24
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Server Technology's PT45 allows both remote power on/off and serial access. For a Linux server without a LO processor you could configure a serial port login for text access. I haven't found a system that combines remote KVM with power control, even though that combination would make a LOT of sense.

Disclosure: I don't own Server Technology stock nor have I used their products.

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The most common solution would be a controllable power distribution unit (a.k.a. smart power strip, it has many names). Many vendors have those, here are some from APC.

A better solution is a integrated system, which has manageable PDUs, a console server and and perhaps KVM switch that work well together. Again there are several vendors, OpenGear is one with a different approach to the embedded software; Avocent is a more typical enterprise'y vendor.

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