The Future of Server Management and its Impact on Data Center

Agustin Roca •

Change is coming and it will ultimately create new opportunities for data center management.

The Redfish specification, developed with the support of many of the industry’s biggest names and now under the guidance of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), was officially released in August 2015.

The need for Redfish emerged as a result of industry-wide recognition that IPMI, the de-facto server management interface, had become dated and was impeding industry progress toward open computing, data-driven management and automation. You can read a more in-depth discussion on the challenges of IPMI that I participated in here, but in short, IPMI isn’t very user friendly, is fragmented by OEM extensions, and doesn’t scale well.  This limits the ability of operators to extract and use critical data to enable more dynamic management needed for modern data centers.

Redfish addresses these limitations through a purposeful REST-based design that is lightweight, secure, easily maintainable, extensible and scalable.  More importantly, Redfish should be immediately familiar to developers who are used to working in RESTful environments and also employs JSON to present information in a “human readable” form that is easily interpreted and automated.

As one of the leading providers of infrastructure and server management solutions, Vertiv has been involved in Redfish development from the very beginning of the process and we are excited about its potential for the future. We are already seeing some server products entering the market with Redfish support and you can expect the availability of Redfish-enabled servers to ramp-up throughout this year. In fact, most new servers will support Redfish in some form by the Intel Purley platform launch in 2017. The fact that the Open Compute Project has embraced Redfish could also accelerate adoption.

In addition, Redfish’s impact won’t be limited to server management. It’s such a powerful and elegant approach that it has the potential to evolve into what for many has been the Holy Grail of data center management: a common language for all managed systems.

That won’t happen overnight. We understand many users have investments in IPMI toolsets that they will be reluctant to abandon and it may take multiple server refresh cycles for Redfish to become the dominant specification in any particular environment. But it will happen—and perhaps sooner than some expect.

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