H3C iFIST Technology White Paper-6W101

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H3C iFIST

Technology White Paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Software version: V1.2

Copyright © 2022 New H3C Technologies Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.

No part of this manual may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of New H3C Technologies Co., Ltd.

Except for the trademarks of New H3C Technologies Co., Ltd., any trademarks that may be mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.

The information in this document is subject to change without notice.



Overview

The H3C integrated Fast Intelligent Scalable Toolkit (iFIST) is a single-server management tool pre-installed in an H3C server. iFIST provides an intuitive graphical user interface for users to configure RAID settings and automated OS installation settings, diagnose hardware, manage configuration, download logs, update firmware, and complete secure data clearing, facilitating daily server O&M and troubleshooting.

iFIST provides the following key features:

·     Supports both Legacy and UEFI boot modes.

·     Compatible with most storage controllers.

·     Supports the server lifecycle management, including server onboarding, maintenance, and decommissioning.

As shown in Figure 1, iFIST consists of the following layers:

·     Hardware layerHardware storage space on a server that is used to store the Linux operating system files and the iFIST application program.

·     Operating system layerLinux, which provides the operating environment for the iFIST application program.

·     Application layerProvides the graphical user interface of iFIST based on the browser/server architecture.

Figure 1 iFIST architecture

 

Benefits

iFIST provides the lifecycle management of a single server through a simple Web interface, which reduces learning costs and maintenance time, and improves user experience. The benefits of iFIST are as follows:

·     Simplified RAID configurationProvides a unified Web interface for creating, deleting, importing, and exporting logical drives on storage controllers in various operating modes.

·     Automated OS and driver installationProvides the following functions:

¡     Automated installation of mainstream operating systems (including Windows Server, RedHat Linux Enterprise, SUSE Linux Enterprise, CentOS, VMware ESXi, Ubuntu, H3C CAS, and Oracle Linux) and drivers (through REPO).

¡     Export and import of OS settings.

·     Proactive hardware diagnostics and fault detectionSupports running diagnostic tests on server hardware components. This helps administrators detect server faults proactively to ensure stable operation of the server.

·     Configuration managementImports and exports HDM, BIOS, and RAID configurations.

·     Firmware updateUpdates firmware for HDM, BIOS, CPLDs, NICs, storage controllers, and drives.

·     Secure data clearingClears user data of HDM, BIOS, and storage system in a secure way to avoid user data breach.

·     Log downloadDownloads logs of the OS, SDS, storage controllers and drives.

RAID configuration

Concepts

Redundant Arrays of Independent Drives (RAID) is a technology that enhances the security and stability of the server storage system. RAID configuration requires that a storage controller be installed on a server. With a storage controller installed, you can group a number of physical drives to create a RAID array (also known as a logical drive) to provide data redundancy and validation functions.

iFIST allows you to easily create logical drives on various types of storage controllers from the iFIST Web interface, which greatly streamlines RAID configuration and improves configuration efficiency.

Feature overview

RAID configuration involves the following tasks:

·     Create RAID arraysSelect physical drives to build a RAID array with the specified name, RAID level, and other settings.

·     Manage physical drivesView information about the physical drives on the server and manage drives such as setting the physical drive status.

·     Manage logical drivesView information about the logical drives on the server and manage logical drives, such as deleting the drives.

 

 

NOTE:

·     The Web page content varies by storage controller model. See H3C iFIST User Guide or H3C iFIST Online Help for more information.

·     Some storage controllers (such as HBA-LSI-9300) do not support logical drives. On a server with such a storage controller installed, iFIST provides only the physical drive management function.

 

Mechanism

iFIST can integrate with storage controller drivers as well as the management tools and RESTful APIs provided by storage controller vendors. After the user configures RAID settings through the iFIST Web interface, iFIST automatically calls the related tools to apply the settings to the server.

Automated OS installation

Concepts

A user often encounters the following issues during the manual OS installation process:

·     The storage controller driver in not integrated in the OS image, resulting in hard drive recognition failures during the installation process.

·     Manual intervention (such as configuring installation parameters) is required during the OS installation process, which increases the O&M time.

·     After the operating system is installed, the user needs to manually install the required drivers.

To address the preceding issues, iFIST provides automated OS installation on the server. A user can configure all the OS installation parameters on the iFIST Web interface, which then automatically installs the operating system on the server without manual intervention.

Feature overview

After the Configure system settings page is opened, iFIST performs the following operations:

1.     Determines the type of OS image to be installed according to the user-defined image source. Supported image source include CD (physical CD or HDM virtual media) and USB flash drive.

2.     Identifies the repository (CD or USB flash drive) selected by the user and iFIST embedded drivers. Then, iFIST displays the drivers that match the OS and can be installed in the repository on the Configure system settings page.

A repository is released by H3C and it contains a bundle of driver and firmware installation packages for servers.

The configurable OS installation parameters on the page vary by OS type. For example, to install a Windows operating system, you can perform the following tasks:

·     Select the drivers to be installed.

·     Select the OS image file to be installed. For example, if the image source contains two image files (Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO files for standard edition and datacenter edition), you can select which one to install.

·     Specify the host name, password, and key for the operating system.

·     Specify the target drive (physical or logical) for OS installation and set the drive capacity. As opposed to OS installation on a random drive, installing the operating system on a designated drive helps reduce the risk of data loss.

Mechanism

Automated OS installation

Each OS vendor implements its own automated OS installation mechanism, such as the ks.cfg file-based mechanism for Linux and the unattend.xml file-based mechanism for Windows. Based on in-depth analysis of the vendor-specific automated OS installation mechanisms, iFIST provides the automated OS installation feature to enable automated installation of most mainstream operating systems. This feature also resolves the hard drive recognition issues caused by lack of compatible storage controller drivers. The automated OS installation feature of iFIST greatly speeds up the OS installation process and reduces the O&M costs on a server.

 

 

NOTE:

For information about automated ks.cfg file-based Linux installation and unattend.xml file-based Windows installation, see the related documents of the specific OS vendor.

 

Automated driver installation

After installing the operating system on a server, iFIST can proceed to install the drivers required by the operating system. The user just needs to mount the repository that contains the driver packages to the server and select the drivers to be installed in the OS installation settings. Then, iFIST will automatically install the drivers after the OS installation completes.

Server hardware diagnostics

Concepts

After the server has been running for a long time, some hardware components might fail due to physical loss and other reasons, causing problems such as system downtime. This kind of hardware failure might appear irregularly and is difficult to reproduce in the normal use of the server, which compromises the stability of the server. In order to resolve the issue, iFIST provides the server hardware diagnosis function to help quickly and accurately troubleshoot hardware faults by testing the hardware performance in various load conditions.

The server hardware diagnosis function includes the following parts:

·     Device scanningScans the hardware devices on the server and presents the hardware information for users to assess the overall hardware configuration state of the server.

·     Fast diagnosticsRuns basic tests on the server hardware components to troubleshoot basic problems.

·     Stress testsRuns compressive stress tests on the server hardware components to troubleshoot problems that are not easy to detect.

·     Memory smart-testTests or repairs the server memory.

Feature overview

The iFIST server hardware diagnosis function provides the following capabilities:

·     Displays information about key hardware components on the server, such as the CPU, memory, PSU, fan, HDM, PCIe, NIC, and GPU.

·     Runs fast diagnostic tests and stress tests on server hardware components such as the CPU, memory, PSU, fan, HDM, PCIe, NIC, and GPU.

·     Displays the hardware test state and results on the iFIST Web interface.

·     Exports the server hardware information and test results to a USB flash drive.

·     Performs memory smart-test.

 

 

NOTE:

Only the memory of some vendors supports the memory smart-test feature. For more information, see the iFIST user guide or online help.

 

Device information display

iFIST displays information about the hardware components on the server on the Device Info tab of the Server Diagnostics page.

The device information includes the system information as well as information about individual hardware components, including BIOS, HDM, CPU, memory, storage, NIC, PSU, fan, and temperature sensor. You can expand or collapse the information area for a hardware component as needed.

Fast diagnostics

On the Fast diagnostics tab of the Server Diagnostics page, the user can configure the fast diagnostics settings to run tests on the selected hardware components. iFIST supports the following fast diagnostics test modes:

·     Common testTest the selected hardware components one by one until the last component is tested.

·     Cyclic testTest the selected hardware components repeatedly for the specified number of cycles.

·     Timed testTest each of the selected hardware components for the specified duration one by one.

Stress test

As a supplement to fast diagnostics, stress tests can detect hidden hardware problems that cannot be detected in fast diagnostics to provide best-effort server operation assurance. Stress tests support the following modes:

·     Common testTest the selected hardware components one by one until the last component is tested.

·     Cyclic testTest the selected hardware components repeatedly for the specified number of cycles.

Data export

On the Data Export tab of the Server Diagnostics page, you can export the server hardware information and test results to a USB flash drive for further analysis.

Memory smart-test

iFIST performs tests and repairs on the memory chips of the server only in UEFI boot mode. You can configure the smart test parameters from iFIST, and then the memory smart-test feature tests the memory in the memory initialization stage after the server reboot. To view the test results, log in to iFIST after the test.

Mechanism

iFIST can obtain hardware information through both HDM and Linux on the server.

The following tables show the supported test items for fast diagnostics and stress tests.

Table 1 Fast diagnostics

Test item

Description

System

Checks the validity of the server's serial number and the server's health state.

CPU

Checks the number of CPUs on the server and available memory for the CPUs, runs UPI bandwidth, link, and floating-point tests on the CPUs, and checks for machine check architecture (MCA) errors.

Memory

Runs read and write tests on memory modules and checks for MCA errors on the memory modules.

Storage

Runs the following tests on storage modules:

·     Bandwidth, rate, health, and capacitance state tests on storage controllers.

·     Bandwidth and speed tests on NVMe SSDs and PCIe SSDs.

·     Hard drive self-test.

·     Sequential read tests on logical drives.

NIC

Runs the following tests on storage modules:

·     NIC bandwidth and speed tests to determine whether they are below the nominal values.

·     MAC address conflict test.

·     Network port self-test.

GPU

Checks the GPU's bandwidth and rate to determine whether they are below the nominal values.

PCIe

Determines whether the bandwidth and speed of the PCIe device meet the server requirements.

PSU

Checks the state of PSUs on the server.

Fan

Checks the health state of fans on the server.

Temperature

Checks the temperature sensor state of server components, including memory, CPU, PSU, storage controller, and PCIe slot.

MCA

Checks for MCA errors.

 

Table 2 Stress test

Test item

Description

CPU

Runs long time UPI link tests and floating-point tests, and checks for MCA errors.

Memory

Runs read and write tests on memory modules and checks for MCA errors on the memory modules.

Storage

Runs sequential read tests and random read tests on individual physical and logical drives.

MCA

Checks for MCA errors.

 

Table 3 Memory read and write test models

Test mode

Test models

Fast diagnostics

Stuck Address, Compare XOR, Compare SUB, Compare MUL, Compare DIV, Compare OR, Compare AND

Stress test

Stuck Address, Compare XOR, Compare SUB, Compare MUL, Compare DIV, Compare OR, Compare AND, Sequential Increment, Solid Bits, Block Sequential, Checkerboard, Bit Spread, Walking Ones, Walking Zeroes, Walking Data Ones, Walking Data Zeroes

 

For memory smart-test, iFIST calls the memory test tool provided by the manufacturer to perform tests and repairs on the memory in the memory initialization stage after the server reboot. Before the server reboot, you can configure the memory smart-test-related parameters from iFIST.

Secure data clearing

Concepts

When a server stops running for the end of lifecycle or other reasons, you can use the secure data clearing function to clear the data saved in the server to avoid user data breach. For security purposes, this function ensures that the cleared data is difficult to be restored. The secure data clearing function helps users complete a secure server decommissioning.

Feature overview

The secure data clearing function supports the following tasks:

·     Restore HDM and the BIOS to the factory defaults.

·     Clear the BIOS passwords.

·     Clear NVDIMM data

·     Delete logical drives.

·     Clear data saved in all drives and SD cards.

Mechanism

The secure data clearing function adopts the purge method in NIST Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1 Guidelines for Media Sanitization. The following table shows the data clearing operations on server components.

Table 4 Secure data clearing

Component

Operation

Influence

HDM

Remove the user-defined configuration.

Restore HDM to the factory defaults.

BIOS

Remove the user-defined configuration.

Restore the BIOS to the factory defaults.

Clear passwords.

The administrator password, user password, and power-on password, if any, in the BIOS are cleared.

RSTe and VROC

Delete logical drives.

All logical drives are deleted.

PMC and LSI storage controllers

Delete logical drives.

All logical drives are deleted.

SD cards

Execute the dd command.

The data in SD cards are cleared.

NVDIMM

Use the ipmctl tool to set the NVDIMM to the full memory mode.

All data in non-memory mode is cleared, and the NVDIMM changes to the full memory mode.

SATA HDD

Execute the ATA sanitize command of the overwrite EXT option.

Use all zeros to overwrite all physical sectors, including inaccessible sectors. All data is cleared.

SATA SSD

Execute the ATA sanitize command of the block erase EXT option.

Unable to restore the previous data in all physical memory blocks, including inaccessible blocks.

SAS HDD

Execute the SCSI sanitize command of the overwrite EXT option.

Use all zeros to overwrite all physical sectors, including inaccessible sectors. All data is cleared.

SAS SSD

Execute the SCSI sanitize command of the block erase EXT option.

Unable to restore the previous data in all physical memory blocks, including inaccessible blocks.

NVMe

Execute the format command of SES=2, if NVMe supports encryption.

The encryption key is cleared and the data cannot be restored.

Execute the format command of SES=2.

All data and metadata associated with the namespaces are deleted, and all user contents in NVMe are erased.

 

Firmware update

Concepts

Some server components might require functional update or bug fixes. Users can use the firmware update function in iFIST to quickly update the server firmware.

Feature overview

The firmware update function use simple steps to update the component firmware version. You must perform firmware update in conjunction with REPO images. The REPO images can reside in a USB flash drive, be burned to a CD, and be mounted to HDM virtual media. The firmware update function can update various firmware products, including HDM, BIOS, various CPLDs, storage controllers, NICs, and hard drives.

Mechanism

The firmware update method varies by product:

·     HDM, BIOS, and CPLDsiFIST sends the REPO image file through the in-band USB channel, and then issues IPMI commands to start firmware update.

·     Storage controllers, NICs, and hard drivesiFIST calls the update tools and files provided by the manufacturers to complete firmware update in the system. The related tools have been integrated in iFIST and do not require installation.

Configuration management

Concepts

For server deployment, the configuration management of iFIST allows users to configure the same settings on the servers in bulk by importing and exporting HDM, BIOS, and RAID configuration files.

Feature overview

iFIST supports importing and exporting HDM, BIOS, and RAID configurations.

 

 

NOTE:

iFIST obtains the HDM, BIOS, and RAID configuration files through interaction with HDM. The exported RAID configuration file in this section contains only RAID configuration and is different from that in "Automated OS installation," which contains both OS installation parameters and RAID configuration.

 

Mechanism

Use the configuration management function to perform the following tasks:

·     Export configuration—Export the target configuration file from HDM to the USB flash drive through the in-band USB channel.

·     Import configurationImport the target configuration file in a USB flash drive to HDM through the in-band USB channel, which can achieve rapid configuration replication.

Log download

Concepts

Failures might occur during the server operation. When the O&M personnel arrive at the site, they might need to collect different logs as required. iFIST integrates the collection of most commonly used logs, which reduces the collection time and difficulty for onsite engineers.

Feature overview

iFIST supports downloading OS logs, SDS logs, storage controller logs, and hard drive logs. The OS logs refer to the logs on the iFIST side instead of those in the customer service system, which reduces risks.

Mechanism

The log download method varies by log type:

·     OS logsCollected by using the system commands, including dmidecode, lspci, and other Linux system commands to obtain related hardware information.

·     SDS logsDownloaded from HDM through the USB channel.

·     Storage controller logsCollected by using the tools provided by the storage controller manufacturers.

·     Drive logsCollected by using the tools provided by the drive manufacturers.

Acronyms

Acronym

Description

FIST

Fast Intelligent Scalable Toolkit

iFIST

Integrated Fast Intelligent Scalable Toolkit

BMC

Baseboard Management Controller

HDM

H3C Device Management

RAID

Redundant Arrays of Independent Drives

KVM

Keyboard Video Mouse

OS

Operating System

BIOS

Basic Input Output System

UEFI

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface

Legacy

Legacy

REPO

repository

MCA

Machine Check Architecture

SDS

Smart Diagnosis System

IPMI

Intelligent Platform Management Interface