Acronym Soup: What is IPMI?
In today's "Acronym Soup" blog post, we will once again take a step over on the manageability side of things and ask the question: what is IPMI?
IPMI is an acronym for "Intelligent Platform Management Interface", so this alone gives an indication of its meaning. Originally developed by Intel in the late 1990s and promoted and adopted by many leading OEMs and ODMs over the decades that followed, in short IPMI is a standardized, message-based protocol for out-of-band monitoring and management of remote server platforms.
However, before going too deep into the waters of IPMI, it would perhaps be helpful to define out-of-band (OOB) management. In simple terms, out-of-band management is one of several methods or communication protocols by which servers can be contacted, surveyed and managed even when they are unresponsive or powered down.
Typically, out-of-band management does so by using a "message-based" communication protocol to get information about the status of the platform, including temperature, fan and power status, and hardware integrity. As such, there is no need for the OS system or any type of system management software to be present or functional on the system in order to observe and communicate with it.
This communication can be done in several ways. For example, IPMI monitoring can be done over a direct or side-band local access network (LAN) connection, as well as a serial connection, often communicating with the network interface card (NIC) on the target server to access management information about the system.
In 2004, a major upgrade to the IPMI protocol took place with the release of IPMI version 2.0. With it, a host of new manageability features and communication methods were added to IPMI. According to Intel [https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/servers/ipmi/ipmi-home.html], the current version of the IPMI specification offers the following advantages and capabilities:
"The current specification defines common interfaces that allow IT managers to receive status alerts, send instructions to industry-standard servers, and run diagnostics over a network versus locally at the server. IPMI, v2.0, is designed to extend customers' IT capabilities and further improve remote management by introducing enhanced security, remote access, and configuration capabilities while maintaining compatibility with previous IPMI versions. The next-generation IPMI also offers customers more cost-effective implementation options, which can provide greater flexibility and lower the cost of server deployment."
One of the biggest additions to IPMI v2.0 was Serial over LAN (SOL), often referred to as "console redirection", which gives administrators the ability to re-route text-based console output via the Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) on board the server to virtually anywhere and perform OS updates, administer utilities and commands, and similar tasks.
Support for the latest version of IPMI support is a key feature of many of AMI's MegaRAC BMC firmware and manageability products, and MegaRAC products such as MegaRAC SP-X BMC Firmware are known for their deep and innovative implementations of SOL and other out-of-band BMC communication methods. To learn more about IPMI implementation in MegaRAC SP-X, AMI's flagship BMC management firmware, please visit: https://ami.com/en/products/remote-management/service-processor/Thanks for reading today's Tech Blog, we hope you found this bit of Acronym Soup refreshing and enjoyable! Feel free to drop us a line via social media or our Contact Us form and let us know – and what you might like to see in future posts!