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[SysMgt] Method and process for server identification using light patterns

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198318D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-04
Document File: 3 page(s) / 33K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method for utilizing programmed light sequencing on servers and racks in large server rooms to assist administrators and technicians in identifying when there is a problem and quickly lead them to the exact location of the problem.

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[SysMgt] Method and process for server identification using light patterns

Large server farms with many racks, rack mounted servers, chassis, blades, etc. make it difficult for administrators to find the one blinking light they need. Additionally, an administrator might need to request a light be turned on, and have to return to a central management console or open a management application to do so.

The solution entails lights flashing in varying sequences (e.g., chasers and rate of blinking) to indicate the proximity of the machine with the blinking light to the desired server. For example:

There are 10 racks in a row.

Rack #7 has the server of interest.

Racks #1 thru #6 have a chaser sequence leading to rack #7, as do #8 through #10.

As an enhancement, racks #6 and #8 have rapidly flashing lights. Alternatively, the lights on racks #5 and #9 flash slightly less rapidly than #6 and #8.

Baseboard Management Controllers (BMCs) and other management hardware which interacts with system management tools have the ability to synchronize with a common time source, such as Network Time Protocol (NTP). This allows an administrator to request that at fixed intervals and relative to fixed points in time, multiple BMCs turn on and off their identification lights.

For example, assuming a programmer sets a chaser pattern to turn on at 1:15:00PM, and there are four racks to either side of the desired target, the adjacent neighbors (racks #4 and #6) are instructed to turn on the ID lights at 1:15:03PM and off 2 seconds later. Furthermore, the ID lights are to turn on again 3 seconds later, and off 2 seconds later, and repeat this pattern until told to stop. Because they are using NTP synchronization, which can hold clients to 1ms or better accuracy, the appearance, when completely worked out is as follows:

Rack 1 -- on @ :00, off @ :02

Rack 2 -- on @ :01, off @ :03

Rack 3 -- on @ :02, off @ :04

Rack 4 -- on @ :03, off @ :05

Rack 5 -- continual blinking

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Rack 6 -- on @ :03, off @ :05

Rack 7 -- on @ :02, off @ :04

Rack 8 -- on @ :01, off @ :03

Rack 9 -- on @ :00, off @ :02

Racks #1 and #9 light up, followed by racks #2 and #8 one second later, followed by racks #1 and #9 turning off and #3 and #7 turning on one second later. The visual affect guides a person to the correct rack.

This extends to larger numbers of racks, such as in a larger farm having many rows of servers. Additionally, because this does not require that the personnel responsible for servicing the systems have access to a graphical console, they can be guided to a failing server which can then be accessed local to that server; all without a...