How I remotely access and manage my servers even when they are powered off!

In this video I talk about how I remotely access the servers in my videos “Out-of-band” aka via a Java console even when they are powered off. I have received quite a few questions about this one and figured it was time to do a video. This is what allows me to access the BIOS and boot menu’s that you normally wouldn’t have access to with something like RDP.

I am really only able to do this since the servers I am using have Baseboard management controllers (BMC) or Dell Remote Access Controllers, HP also has their own version known as the iLO. In this video I will mainly be using a Dell 2950 Gen 2 with a DRAC 5 and a Dell C2100 with a BMC, but I do also have a few Dell CS24s which you see in the video.

Each server has dedicated hardware either built in to the motherboard or as an optional card installed in the server. This hardware has direct access to the servers video output and power management. As long as the server has power, you can perform most of the activities you would if you were physically in front of the server. You can turn it on and off, remote into the server and control it much like an RDP session. Some servers will even let you mount an ISO image from a remote system so that an OS can be loaded.

A typical layout for a server is to have 2 x Gb ports and 1 x 10/100MB port for the BMC/DRAC. Almost all DRACs or BMCs will have their own dedicated RJ45 port for connecting it to the network, but I have seen some that share the Gb ports used for regular network connectivity. Each BMC/DRAC will need its own IP address assigned to it. You can then access the DRAC or BMC’s portal by browsing to http://IP-OF-BMC/. The configuration of the IP and user/pass is typically done through either the BIOS or during the servers boot process.

This is the most common way to access a server when you do not have physical access, in fact most admins now a days rarely see the hardware they are actually working on. In my case it also makes for a good way record this kind of stuff in high quality. Always make sure that you NEVER expose a DRAC/BMC/iLO directly to the internet!

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