HP has clue, but not quite enough (yet)

I like HP servers. True enough, I like Supermicro better, but big companies tend not to like Supermicro due to the fact you have to assemble them yourself, and there’s no real support / SLA agreement possible with them (for now – I hear it’s in the works). Most people in the ISP world know however, that Supermicro is extremely reliable stuff, and priced extremely nicely.

Anyhow, I’m stuck with HP, which is not a bad platform to get stuck with to begin with. FreeBSD runs beautifully on it, but then you have to do without the insight manager agents, the same deal applies when you run Ubuntu. Centos 4 and 5 are a breeze, just edit /etc/redhat-release so it reflects a RedHat version of Enterprise Server, and install the software like you normaly do.

One thing I seriously dislike however, is that when I run Ubuntu or FreeBSD on a HP box, my monitoring capabilities drop to almost zero. With RedHat or Centos I can monitor through the insight manager agents (who hook into SNMP), and use the nagios check_compaq_insight.pl, and as soon as something breaks: I get paged. With FreeBSD (and ubuntu) that seems completely impossible. My last attempt on an Ubuntu box to install those agents resulted in some very serious library problems, because the installer auto-installed some distro-specific rpm’s. That showed me who’s boss. (not!).

Anyhow, during my daily stroll at the Nagios Exchange I noticed a plugin that I hadn’t noticed before: check_ilo2_health. This is a great little plugin written in Perl. Instead of the old: talk to snmpd approach, this little bugger talks directly to the ilo2 interface (ilo/il01 won’t work), and more specifically: it’s XML interface.

wait. did you say XML interface?

Yup, the ILO2 sports a nice new XML interface, with which you can communicate. HP even provides a bunch of examples on how to talk shop with it. Nice hey?

Now I thought, did HP actually put everything you can monitor with the insight agents into the ILO2 and make it accessible with XML?

Unfortunatly: no. (yes, that was quite disappointing).

You can get quite a bit of useful information through the XML interface, including the speed of the fans, temperature readings from all the internal sensors. You can even configure a lot of things, like users and IP settings through it. You can even upgrade the ILO2 firmware through the XML interface. But nothing on RAID status, rebuild status, etc. I tried this against a brand spanking new DL380 G5, so if it doesn’t work there, it won’t work anywhere.

If anyone at HP reads this: please extend the ILO2 so everything is accessible through it’s XML interface. That saves us a lot of trouble of trying to get those agents installed on other operating systems. FreeBSD is too good an OS to ignore, even for an OEM as big as you. (and you don’t, judging from this news-snippet (PDF)). So either open up the XML interface more, or provide us with insight manager agents for FreeBSD. (I would be more then happy to help with testing).


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