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Dell Management Center Plugin for vCenter Overview/Install Guide

Dell introduced this plugin awhile back, it's actually a Virtual Appliance you import into vCenter.  The plugin inside vCenter is actually an Adobe Flex (Flash-based) app that gets embedded into your vSphere Client, so ensure you have Flash installed on the machine(s) you wish to use this plugin from.

Overview of Features

  • Update BIOS/Firmware on Dell ESXi hosts from vCenter
    • Checks for updates automatically and alerts you when there are updates available
    • Can leverage an established Dell Repository to avoid data duplication--if you are a heavy Dell shop you should know what this is
  • New vCenter Alarms for Dell Hardware
    • These Alarms can even trigger hosts to go into maintence mode to evacuate VMs from that particular host if the hardware event is critical (in a DRS enabled cluster of course)
  • Supports Dell's Proactive Systems Management
    • Works without (the God-awful) SilverStreak to automatically create support cases with Dell when issues arise
  • View Warranty information of your Dell hosts
    • Allows you to configure a proxy, if your environment requires one
  • Bare metal deployment of ESX/ESXi servers
    • This leverages Dell Lifecycle Controllers and iDRACs to provision Dell servers somewhat auto-magically.
    • First you create a Hardware Profile from a Reference Server--(configures boot order, BIOS settings, iDRAC settings, RAID config)
    • Then you create a Hypervisor profile--You point at an ISO, and configure the vCenter, destination container (data center or cluster), and even a host profile for you enterprise plus users.
    • Note you can "white-list" service tags so only those hosts you define can be used by the plugin to deploy against.
  • OSMA Launcher
    • So you can launch directly to your OSMA web console to connect to an OSMA agent on an ESXi host
  • Appliance Upgradable
    • Does not require replacement by deploying a new OVF when a new version comes out

Appliance Install Guide

Virtual Appliance Specs:

  • 2 vCPU
  • 3.5Gb RAM
  • CentOS 5.5 based
  • ~33Gb Disk Space

Installation Steps:

    1. Deploy OVF
    2. Power on (wait a bit)
    3. Login via the console with the username admin
    4. Choose new admin password
    5. You'll get a menu to configure timezone, network, etc.
      1. Use the network menu to configure a static address
    6. At the top you will notice a URL for the Admin Portal, Navigate their from your browser -- Note you must type the full URL including the index.html--Dell has not heard of new fangled Web Server features such as DocumentRoot 😉
    7. Login with your previously set admin password
    8. Now navigate to Appliance Management
    9. You'll see 2 lines near the top, Current Virtual Appliance Version and Available Virtual Appliance Version, if the Available version is higher then the current, click Update Virtual Appliance to check for updates
      1. I had to do this upgrade in order to get the appliance to register with my vCenter v5
  1. If you did request an update, it takes about 5-10min to complete, the virtual appliance will reboot at some point, once you get a login screen at the console it should be ready to proceed
  2. Go back to the appliance URL in your web browser and login
  3. From here you'll see a link to register with vCenter near the top--click that
    1. Enter the IP or Hostname for your vCenter server
    2. Provide User Credentials with admin access in vCenter & hit register
  4. Once registration is complete you will get a message to relaunch a vSphere Client and connect  to the vCenter to access the plugin, so do that.
  5. Goto the home screen in your vCenter to click the new Dell Management Center icon
  6. At this point you can follow the various wizards to configure whichever features you want to take advantage of--enjoy!

Further Reading

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