Manageability for Desktop and Notebook Clients
IT managers are continually searching for ways to improve network service and reduce the cost of maintaining their computing infrastructures. This is especially true for client systems (desktops and notebooks), where the number of managed PC’s can be large. Also any downtime for a user’s PC can reduce productivity quickly.
To manage their desktop and notebook clients, IT managers typically use software-based management tools to perform the majority of system management tasks, such as applying patches. These tools usually utilize software agents or processes running on the managed systems. In order for these tools to work, the managed system needs to be powered on and the operating system running. Often management tools that rely on the OS running are called “in-band” tools.
Out-of band Management for Desktops and Notebooks
Management tools and technology are also available to perform “out-of-band” management tasks. In contrast to “in-band” tasks, “out-of-band” tasks are performed independently of the OS or the power state of the PC. A typical out-of-band task would be powering on a PC that is shut down and powered off.
Support for out-of-band management on client systems is implemented in firmware typically integrated in to the NIC (Network Interface Controller) on the client system. These NICs have integrated a management controller that runs the client management firmware for out-of-band management.
The following diagram shows both the in-band and out-of-band management paths. A management console interacts with OS agents to perform in-band tasks. In the out-of-band case, the management console does not interact with the OS. The console communicates directly with the management controller on the NIC.
Out-of band Management and Industry Standards
AMD client systems that support out-of-band management all support DMTF standards, including the DASH (Desktop and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware).
DASH is a suite of specifications developed by the DMTF that delivers open standards-based Web services management for desktop and mobile client systems.
DASH is a comprehensive framework that provides the next generation of standards for secure out-of-band and remote management of desktop and mobile systems in multi-vendor, distributed enterprise environments.
DASH enables the same tools, syntax, semantics, and interfaces to work across a full range of products - traditional desktop systems, mobile and laptop computers, blade PCs, as well as "thin clients."
DASH enables robust, secure out-of-band management. DASH 1.1 includes the following out-of-band management features:
- Secure transport—uses HTTPS for Secure operation
- SOAP based management protocol—uses WS-Management
- Standardized network discovery—two phase discovery using RMCP (Remote Management and Control Protocol) and WS-Identify
- User Administration—provides a standardized interface that allows a remote console to add/delete users, set/change passwords, and assign roles to users. Pre-defined roles include (Admin/operator/read-only)
- Remote power control—allows remote power-on, power-off, power-cycle, or reset of the PC
- Boot control—directs the system to reboot to specified boot device (e.g. PXE, floppy, remote media)
- Hardware Asset inventory—shows platform model number, CPU version, BIOS version, memory and other hardware info
- Sensor interfaces—includes optional sensor interfaces for fan speed, fan status, temperature, power supply status, and chassis intrusion
- Platform alerts—a console can subscribe to alerts via a WS-eventing protocol. Platform alerts may include temperature alerts, fan failure, chassis intrusion, ProcHot, ThermTrip, and BIOS boot failure.
- Text Console Redirection—provides BIOS-assisted console and keyboard redirection during boot, BIOS setup, or diagnostic programs (Once the OS takes-over during boot, text redirection stops)
- Media Redirection—provides a “virtual” CDROM/floppy/disk device that reads data from a remote device or image file. This allows BIOS to boot from a remote Disk/CDROM/floppy image. The key use cases include:
- remote boot to a deployment OS (such as WinPE) for system provisioning
- remote boot to a network CD image to update BIOS or firmware or to run diagnostics
- OS Status—provides out-of-band interface to read OS state (shutdown, OS-up, standby/hibernate) or to request a change in state e.g. shutdown or hibernate
- Opaque Data Mailbox—allows a software agent on the PC to store data in the DASH management controller so that a remote console or remote application can later read the data out-of-band regardless of OS state or PC power state
Read the Essential Client Management with DMTF DASH white paper.
Benefits of DASH for Administrators
A management tool or console that supports the DASH standard can monitor and control a DASH client system in a consistent, vendor-independent way. This means common management tasks can be done in the same way for many different clients.
DASH's core functionality can shorten the learning curve for administrators, provides flexibility for management tasks, reduces system complexity, and helps lower costs.DASH enables several specific use cases, as outlined below. For detailed descriptions of these use cases, read the DASH use cases white paper.
- Remote Power Control, Boot Control and Console Redirection—From a remote management console, administrators can power off, power on, or power cycle a client system. They may want to power off systems to reduce energy usage. Or they may want power on a system, apply a patch, and power off again.
- Remote Diagnostics—Help desk operators or administrators can remotely diagnose problems by remotely powering on a client system and redirecting the serial output to their remote console. They can then specify the system boot from a diagnostic disk or device to perform troubleshooting remotely.
- Discovery—From a management console, administrators can automatically discover the client systems they can manage with DASH. A managed client can then be queried in a standard way. The console can also determine if a client supports DASH and which specific capabilities or features are accessible.
- Asset Inventory—From their management tool or console, administrators can view hardware and software inventory for clients in the system. For example, an admin can check the configuration of hardware components like memory or hard drives, or see what software and versions are installed. This inventory can be viewed whether a client system is powered on or off.
- Remote System Health Monitoring—Administrators can remotely monitor the health of hardware components in the system, such as temperature, chassis intrusion, and fan operation.
AMD's Support of DASH
AMD has developed various open source development tools for DASH. For information see: http://developer.amd.com/CPU/MANAGEABILITY/Pages/default.aspx.
AMD is also developing a DASH plug-in for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. More information about the plug-in is available at: http://developer.amd.com/CPU/MANAGEABILITY/Pages/default.aspx.