by Josh Rosen
One of the challenges with today's servers is getting the server up and running and understanding what all of the steps are once you plug the server in for the first time.
So many different pieces come into play: installing drivers, updating firmware, configuring RAID, and provisioning the operating system. All of these steps must be done before you can even start using the server.
Finding the latest firmware and drivers, making sure you have the right versions, and knowing that all the different software and firmware components work together properly can be a real challenge. If not done correctly, such as if you separately download disk firmware or controller firmware that doesn't match the existing OS drivers, you could experience bugs, performance problems, and incompatibilities. Gone are the days of having to locate the tools and drivers media that shipped with the server only to find out that newer versions of software and firmware are available on the web.
Oracle has solved these challenges in the new X3-2 family of servers by introducing Oracle System Assistant
. Oracle System Assistant is an innovative tool that is built-in to every new x86 server. It provides step-by-step assistance with configuring the server, updating firmware and drivers, and provisioning the operating system. Once you have completed all of the steps in the Oracle System Assistant tool, the server is ready to use.
Oracle System Assistant was designed to be easy and straightforward. Starting it is as simple as pressing F9 when the server is booting. You'll need a keyboard, monitor, and mouse or you can use the remote console feature of Oracle ILOM
(Integrated Lights Out Manager) to access a virtual KVM to the server from any machine. From there Oracle System Assistant will walk you through each of the steps necessary to set up your server.
After configuring the network settings for Oracle System Assistant, the next step is to check for any new software or firmware for the server. Oracle System Assistant connects back to Oracle using your My Oracle Support account and downloads any updates that were made available to you for this specific server.
This is where you really start to see the innovation that went into Oracle System Assistant. Firmware for Oracle ILOM and BIOS, operating system drivers, and other system firmware (including for option cards and disk drivers) come as a single bundle, downloading as a single unit, that has been engineered and tested to work together by Oracle. Oracle System Assistant figures out the right combination for your server, so you don't have to.
Now that the server has the latest firmware, Oracle System Assistant will next walk you through configuring the hardware. From Oracle System Assistant, you can configure many Oracle ILOM settings, including the network settings and initial user accounts. This ensures that ILOM is accessible and ready to use.
Oracle System Assistant is where all parts of the server come together. In addition to communicating with Oracle ILOM and interacting with BIOS, Oracle System Assistant understands and can configure the storage subsystem. Before installing the operating system, Oracle System Assistant can detect the storage configuration and configure RAID for all disks in the system.
At this point, the server is ready to be provisioned with the host operating system. You can use Oracle System Assistant to provision a supported OS, including Oracle Linux, Oracle VM, RHEL, SuSe Linux, and Windows. And by using Oracle System Assistant, you can be sure that the proper OS drivers are installed for each of the installed hardware components.
With Oracle System Assistant, initial setup of the server has never been easier. If we can innovate around problems and find solutions to make our servers easier to manage, this reduces IT costs and makes managing servers simpler. I think with Oracle System Assistant we have done just that.
Josh Rosen is a Principal Product Manager at Oracle and previously spent more than a decade as a developer and architect of system management software. Josh has worked on system management for many of Oracle's hardware products ranging from the earliest blade systems to the latest Oracle x86 servers.