UCS: The Soul of a Server

One of the messages I’ve been putting to people in my UCS messaging lately is the concept of the soul of a server.  The soul of the server in a nutshell is its configuration, its policies, its associated hardware identifiers, its boot parameters etc.  Imagine the concept of a server you formerly loved.   When it goes off into the decommissioned graveyard, the concepts of this server, of what it was still exists.  Before a server is born, you as the administrator have an idea of what it will look like.  You know how it will boot, where its storage is, and you could get even more detailed than that.  But most of the time, we wait until we actually see the physical server.  It is then, when this new soul is placed under our care do we apply settings and policies.  For example, the new server comes in, and you apply a boot policy to the BIOS:  “Thou shalt first boot from USB, DVD, then network, then hard drive”.

With UCS, the soul of the server is the concept of the service profile.   Your server is indeed having an out of hardware experience.  When its physical hardware is taken out and laid on the operating table for maintenance, the soul lives on in UCS manager.  In fact,  since its now in this transient state, it can now possess the hardware (body) of another physical device.  When the server laid on the operating table is placed back into the rack, you as the admin are now the exorcist and can cast the soul from the previous server, back into its original hardware if you so choose to do.  You have godlike powers as a UCS admin.

But the madness doesn’t stop there.  You can make templates of service profiles, or blue prints of souls.  Soul GroupA is a happy soul group.  All members of this soul group are able to boot from SAN A.  Soul GroupA shall have firmware revision 1.4.3q on all BIOS, Adapters, and CIMCs.  And the cool thing about Soul GroupA is that it doesn’t have to be tied to a particular platform.  Soul GroupA can run on different servers:  Half-wide, full-width, even rack mount servers!

And here’s the best part:  If we make a change to the service profile template (or Soul Group A), this change can be instantly made to all servers in this soul group.  Oh, did you decide you want servers from Soul Group A to disable hyperthreading in the bios?  You make one check mark, save it, then reboot the servers.  Settings take place, you just sit around and watch.  Oh, did you just receive a new BIOS update?  Apply that update to the soul group.  Upon reboot, all servers get updated.    Oh, did you just get a brand new server?  If this server conforms to a dynamic pool, the just slap that server in the rack (chassis) and it will get all the boot policies, firmware updates, identifications that it needs.  Boom!  Ready to go.  Yes, my friend, your life just got that much easier.  No, no, no need to thank me, I’m just doing my job.  I’m just the messenger here.

There is power in dealing with souls (service profiles) and soul groups (service profile templates) instead of physical hardware.

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