30 March 2018

Vladimir Matkhanov

Business development manager

7 problems of dedicated server providers which DCImanager can solve

For provider it is important to make sure that its data center infrastructure runs stable and 24/7. If something goes wrong, they can lose thousands or even millions of dollars for every downtime minute. Engineers and server owners rely on different DCIM solutions to avoid issues and save their time.

Our DCImanager can replace dozens of engineers doing the same job automatically and without mistakes. Moreover, it helps to save money and improve quality of service. In this article we describe seven problems of data center management processes which can be solved by DCImanager.

Server provisioning

Server provisioning

Client has already paid for an order and now is waiting for a server. An engineer looks for a machine with the relevant parameters, assigns an IP-address, prepares an access and send the login and password to the client over email.

DCImanager is integrated with the most popular billing platforms: BILLmanager, WHMCS and HostBill. If somebody orders a dedicated server, DCImanager will prepare it automatically. The panel allows to switch on and off the equipment even if it is located in different data centers.

How it works

A customer enters the website, picks everything what he or she needs and makes an order in the account. Billing sends the signal to the DCImanager: server is required. Then DCImanager finds it, assigns an IP-address, installs an OS, prepares everything for operation and passes it to the client. 30 minutes and everything is done.

And one more thing. With our panel you don’t need to keep the passwords from different interfaces — just follow to the billing and back to the DCImanager with a couple of clicks.

OS and recipes installation

OS and recipes installation

Almost nobody goes to provider with bare hardware. The majority needs a fully prepared server with an installed OS. Administrator can do everything manually, but why does he need to waste time if everything could be done automatically?

DCImanager automates the operating system installation and settings. There are 30 OS templates which are ready to use. Moreover, it allows to upload your own templates. You may use the recipes to install any outside program for work.

How it works

A client rents a dedicated server to run the big online store and would like to use WordPress CMS. He or she just needs to upload a WordPress recipe and then DCImanager installs the software on the server in a few minutes.

Administrators can use the ready-made recipes from the storage or create their own. End users also may create the local recipes.

Inventory management

Inventory management

Any provider should know and collect the entire data about its infrastructure to avoid breaking-down or downtime. Also they need to keep an eye on inventory status: incoming delivery, life cycles or repairs. It’s too hard to keep these things on paper if there is a lot of equipment.

DCImanager takes on accounting and tracking of racks, servers, switches and other stuff. The panel shows the number of slots in the rack in real time and keeps the list of broken equipment. It allow to track the fine location of every server and then find the outdated or broken details pretty fast.

Entire data about equipment would be written down to MySQL database via MAC-addresses or barcodes. Provider should install the Warehouse module to make an inventory calculation. This module is free of charge for DCImanager Enterprise.

What DCImanager knows about servers

DCImanager shows the following information every server: Configuration; Platform type; MAC-address; IP-address; Status of activity; Current OS; Temperature; Power and traffic consumption.

Statistics

DCImanager collects the traffic data from switches, temperature from servers, power consumption from PDU

If a provider wouldn’t notice the high load of power or traffic in time, the server may go out of service fall down. The provider needs to get as much statistics as possible to avoid the overload of the system and respond to the issues promptly. Me have made our product an extra cautious.

DCImanager collects the traffic data from switches, temperature from servers, power consumption from PDU. The information is stored in the database and then it shown as the diagrams in the panel. Also it allows to see the current condition of your equipment and statistics for any period of time.

If server overheats, power interrupts or there is a short-circuit of electric wiring, DCImanager will notify the engineers.The panel sends an email to the responsible department and specifies what’s wrong. Also, the control panel duplicates this information on the dashboard.

How DCImanager collects the traffic statistics

Every 5 minutes by 2 methods:

  1. From switch ports — DCImanager connects to switches and issues the command to collect the statistics. Then the information is placed into the directory.
  2. NetFlow/IPFIX traffic — here the nfacctd daemon is configured by default with the standard settings. We do not recommend to change the nfacctd settings, since DCImanager regularly rewrites it.

VLAN settings

VLAN settings

Dedicated servers could be rent by different organizations such as online stores, telco companies or banks. Sometimes, the servers of different customers are located in one rack with the common network settings. It’s important to restrict an access to the data-flow between the clients.

DCImanager ensures high security for clients via VLAN parameters. It allows to setup the port speed and set up the operation mode. The panel combines the switch ports with the local network logically. This method is easier and more secure than using standard rules or MAC addresses.

The panel uses Trunk-ports for traffic transfer which are really useful if you have two and more switches. Users can switch on and off the Trunk mode of the port which allows to transfer traffic of different VLANs.

VLAN management in DCImanager

  1. Admin assigns the VLANs to the switches ports and recognizes the network structure. This method allows administrators to determine the best VLAN distribution in their network topology.
  2. VLAN per user (VPU) mode. It allows to assign a separated VLAN to each server or server group and create IRB interface on the router. It protects against various network threats, reduction of broadcast traffic in the network and allows to build the required network topology, avoiding limitations of physical location of your equipment.

Remote access via IPMI

Remote access via IPMI

On the one hand, clients can reboot someone else’s server accidentally if they get an access to PDU. On the other hand, their provider cannot block up the feature of turning the power on and off. DCImanager solves this problem via IPMI management.

DCImanager allows end users to turn on or off the servers via IPMI interface. The main advantage is that IPMI does not depend on OS and works even when server is off. It means that you can get an access to the server even in case of force majeure shutdown.

How it works

For client. The client has set up the server and is going to reboot it to finish the installation. He or she can do it via IPMI interface without any assistance. The client just needs to know login and password to IPMI or follow there from DCImanager.

For provider. There are servers in different locations and sometimes these machines are idle. The provider can set up turning on and off processes to avoid extra payments on electricity and equipment deterioration.

 

Also IPMI interface allows to connect to the server controller (VNC) and get the data about temperature and power consumption. Furthermore, DCImanager supports IPMI proxy which allows to connect to the VNC in the private data center networks.

Server diagnostics and recovery mode

Server diagnostics and recovery mode

Clients come and go but equipment stays. It’s very important to make sure that server works perfectly before you sell it again. It’s too risky to miss something during the manual diagnostic. If you miss something it can ruin the server work process in the future.

DCImanager checks everything automatically and doesn’t allow for any mistakes. The panel identifies processor model, RAM, RAID and hard drivers. It tests speed of local connection, packaging and SMART-info of hard drive. It takes 10-60 minutes on the average.

How it works

A customer has closed the project and doesn’t need a server anymore. Then billing passes a signal to DCImanager: the client hasn’t paid for server and hasn't been using it for n-hours. After this, the panel deletes the previous settings and tests power and traffic load to check the stable work of equipment. If there is an error, DCImanager will mark and restrict selling. After this, an engineer will see that this server is not ok and the cause.

Sometimes an unexpected emergency happens and the provider needs to fix the issues urgently. The easiest way is just to go to the servers and reboot it. But what if there is no direct access to the server or IPMI access? Or you have it but it doesn’t help at all.

DCImanager allows to connect to the server in recovery mode remotely via SSH. You need to upload one of the special OS templates for Linux or FreeBSD. These templates provide an access to the server if rebooting doesn’t help or client doesn’t remember the password. Also it helps to save the important data or change the password.

Conclusion

Data security and high-quality service are the main advantages of every hosting provider. DCImanager helps to provide these advantages via automatization of billing processes and installation, inventory and diagnostics.

However, in the end the quality of services relies on you lead-up to business. DCImanager helps you to have more free time by automating processes. Use this time and resources to analyze clients’ needs, upgrade your equipment in time and introduce new services. Good luck!

Vladimir Matkhanov

Business development manager