Servers at an IBM SoftLayer data center. (Photo: SoftLayer)

Servers at an IBM SoftLayer data center. (Photo: SoftLayer)

Emerson, Dell, HP, Intel Unveil Server Management Standard

A group of heavyweight IT and data center vendors has teamed up to create a new standard for out-of-band hardware management to replace the 16-year-old Intelligent Platform Management Interface, which they say is outdated and not good enough to manage modern IT hardware.

Intel, Dell, HP and Emerson Network Power are the founding fathers of the new standard, which they named Redfish. The standard is currently under development, awaiting formal submission for review to an industry standards body, the vendors said in a news release.

Out-of-band management means management of hardware independent of the operating system, regardless of whether a machine is turned on or off. It can be used to monitor or change BIOS settings or monitor things like temperature, voltage, fans, power supplies or intrusion into chassis. The management is done through a network connection, and the system being managed has to be plugged into a power outlet.

Redfish creators are planning to add in-band access to the spec in the future. Currently, it only describes out-of-band management.

IPMI came out in 1998 and has been supported by all major vendors. Today, however, it has become obsolete, since it cannot adequately describe environments of modern complexity and modern server architectures. It was introduced when servers were managed by 8-bit microcontrollers.

Redfish, according to its creators, is an evolution of IPMI that aims at addressing its limitations. Its RESTful API and data model are decoupled, which means each can be updated independently. It handles scale much better than IPMI does, capable of managing racks of systems as well as a single node.

Redfish was also created with modern security standards in mind.

A development version of the spec is already available on the Redfish website. Users can check it out and provide feedback.

The next step is to submit the specification to the Distributed Management Task Force, an industry body charged with development, validation and promotion of IT infrastructure management standards.

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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  1. While Redfish has better security, I wouldn’t retire IPMI just yet. Yeah, it’s outdated and a bit clunky in managing a lot of systems, so the next obvious step would be to replace it with Redfish but this has to be perfected before closing all doors on IPMI.

  2. Mark Hahn

    It's unfortunate to read "reporting" that uncritically recycles PR material. For instance, the article (ie, someone from Redfish) claims that IPMI can't manage racks of servers. This is simply false: it's rather easy to manage many, many racks using IPMI. I do it myself. What the article should have, and did not make clear is whatever new Redfish brings to the table. Better security and REST, OK, but let's be honest: it's incompetent to put a management interface on a public interface, so the security is noncritical. What does REST specifically offer that's better than the current IPMI packet format? More broadly, if vendors wanted to offer real value, they'd focus on adding specific features that every site does or should be using. Yes, OoB monitoring of temps, etc. But how about ECC monitoring, PCIE parity traps? How about a really nice standard mechanism for setting boot parameters (and dumping them in XML/JSON/YAML)? How about a really nice, OS- and vendor-independent way to perform firmware updates?