Introducing the new Sun x86 SNMP Hardware Monitoring Agent

I thought now it would be a good opportunity to introduce the newly released Sun x86 SNMP Hardware Monitoring Agent found in the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.0 to discuss its functions and high-level architecture. First what is the function of this agent? Basically it is a host-based (i.e. in-band) SNMP hardware monitoring agent for Sun x86 servers. In the 1.0 release, the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack can provide:
  • Monitoring of environmental sensors
  • Inventory and presence of FRUs
  • Status of system indicators
  • Trap notifications for all sensor-related events

This enables Sun x86 systems to provide SNMP monitoring from the host OS to anything that can consume SNMP which is basically the vast majority of the Monitoring Systems out there in use. This agent is not yet utilized by xVM OC (Ops Center) as that is already highly integrated with Sun platforms via both IPMI and SSH and can easily monitor, control, and provision Sun ILOM (and also ELOM, ALOM and RSC) based systems.

Platform Support: Current Sun x86 ILOM server platforms. Since this agent installs within the host Operating system it does not support the Blade Chassis Management Modules (CMM):

  • Solaris x86
  • Sun supported Red Hat and Novell Linux distributions
  • VMware ESX 3.5
  • Microsoft Server 2003 (Q3CY09)
  • Microsoft Server 2008 (Q3CY09)
Architectural Overview

This new agent provides in-band monitoring to complement the existing out-of-Band monitoring provided by ILOM itself. This is really a question of choice rather than there being a correct approach, some users like out-of-band monitoring over private management LANs direct to ILOM whilst others prefer in-band communication with agent(s) in the host OS. We know that a significant proportion of users do not connect Service Processors to the network. In addition users may already utilize other monitoring agents on the host OS so it may be the preferred point of monitoring.
There are 2 fundamental components plus the KCS driver that provides a path to ILOM from the host OS:, a daemon hwagentd and the SNMP agent itself.
x64-agent-architecture.png
First the hwagentd daemon's role: As illustrated in the figure above. hwagentd polls ILOM via IPMI over the KCS driver for events that it then communicates to the SNMP agent (and potentially any other future agents for example WS-MAN). In addition it can write events to syslog. The hwagentd polls every 30 seconds and caches the data. In the future hwagentd due to its architecture can also call other libraries/utilities, thus extending both it's own functionality and as well as the functionality of ILOM.

The agent supports a pair of MIBs (Management Information Base) SUN-HW-MONITORING-MIB defines the SNMP GET interface and SUN-HW-TRAP-MIB defines the SNMP Traps (event / alert) generated by the agent for  net-snmp and can both receive and request events from the daemon. The agent does not itself communicate directly with ILOM but rather makes calls via hwagentapi and reads the hwagentd cache. It can then propagate these events to an external management platform or tool or respond to SNMP trap requests. Key features of the agent include:
  • SNMP Interface – Obviously! Still the de facto system/network management protocol
  • Support for AgentX – Allows for flexible configuration of the OS agents and improved co-existence with other agents.
  • Trap interface – This allows for event-based integrations with ISV applications.
  • Identical sensor names as the SP – Consistent naming not only presents a more unified product but also improves serviceability
  • Logical grouping of information in MIB by device type – The information in the MIB will be presented in logical groups that present an organized view of the hardware system.
  • Aggregated status information – The ability to have rolled-up status for all sensors and groups of sensors by device type will allow ISV integrations and users to quickly detect if there is an error in the system.
  • LED State - state of system LEDs visible
What about ILOM based SPARC Platforms?

This agent complements what we already offer for SPARC, specifically MASF (Management Agent for Sun Fire). The MASF agent is an SNMP agent that runs on Solaris SPARC and exposes the SUN-PLATFORM-MIB. On ILOM-based platforms it communicates with ILOM by a somewhat different architecture than that shown above. It has extensive SPARC platform support including: T Series (including Uniboard), V125 to V445, Netra 210, 240, 440. Details here:
What Next?

Most immediate on the roadmap is Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.1:
  • ILOM 3.0 Support
  • Red Hat EL 4.0 Support
Then in the near term, Q3CY09, Windows Server support is the next big add. Also we will see increasing support of the agentry within our own 3rd party System Management Integrations. Over time we will release a new WS-MAN agent enabling us to support CIM (Common Information Model), which is seeing growing support particularly in the Windows and VMware world.

Where Can I Learn More?
Comments:

It sounds like the tool we are looking for.
We have downloaded the package (version 1.1) and installed on an X4100 test machine, but it does not work.

The hwagnetd is up and running, but there is no KCS IPMI interface defined; there is no /sbin/chkconfig, /etc/init.d/ipmi on any of our X4600/X4450/X4540.... We have more than 300 servers.

Since KCS IPMI interface cannot be enabled, we do not how can we use this tool.

Posted by Catherine Chang on August 27, 2009 at 02:14 AM MDT #

It sounds like the tool we are looking for.
We have downloaded the package (version 1.1) and installed on an X4100 test machine, but it does not work.

The hwagnetd is up and running, but there is no KCS IPMI interface defined; there is no /sbin/chkconfig, /etc/init.d/ipmi on any of our X4600/X4450/X4540.... We have more than 300 servers.

Since KCS IPMI interface cannot be enabled, we do not how can we use this tool.

We just realize the above mentioned commands are for Linux platform. we will get to our Linux servers later.

Posted by Catherine Chang on August 27, 2009 at 02:31 AM MDT #

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