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Method to synchronize time securely and centrally for multi-chassis blade system

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199596D
Publication Date: 2010-Sep-10
Document File: 6 page(s) / 44K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a mechanism to automatically set a unified date and time across all chassis components in a multi-chassis blade system. The method also applies to new components added to an existing system. The system is secured with the inclusion of the public/private key cryptography.

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Method to synchronize time securely and centrally for multi -chassis blade system

Implementing a large, multi-chassis server blade installation creates unique challenges in managing the date and time of day for elements in the system. The time of day is critical from a number of viewpoints, including logging for synchronization across all of the chassis elements.

For example, when the error logs occur for events that happen on elements in the chassis, the administrator requires a unified time in order to build the failure scenario and the sequence of events that occurred between different chassis elements. In order for the administrator to gain an understanding of the sequence of events that are taking place, the system must provide a coordinated representation of the time and date stamps of all elements that are logging events.

Another example is in the use of security certificates to ensure secure communications between elements of the system. All security certificates have a expiration date and time. If two elements of the system are establishing a secure connection using certificates, one element may treat the certificate as valid while another treats it as expired if the elements do not have synchronized time and dates.

Typically hardware elements in the system such as a management controller (MC) come from the factory with a default date and time set such as 1/1/1970. Typically, the user must change this to an accurate time. A multi-chassis server can have thousands of elements that span across chassis such as blades, switches, fans, power supplies, etc. It is almost impossible for a user to manually coordinate and synchronize the date and time across all of these elements. Also when hardware is reset back to the factory settings by an administrator, it typically reverts to a default date and time and needs to be manually reset again.

Systems need a mechanism to automatically set a unified date and time across all chassis components. This automatic process must also be able to detect when a new chassis component is inserted into the chassis and automatically configure the time and date for the inserted component.

To solve the time synchronization problem the disclosed invention uses a hierarchy of time servers and clients to allow an administrator to centrally set and control time settings across all components using a Network Time Protocol (NTP) configuration scheme. Each chassis in the system has a management module (MM) that includes a console to manage all elements within the chassis. In this invention each chassis element includes an NTP client daemon which can be configured to point to an NTP server to periodically query for time synchronization. The chassis management module acts as the NTP time server for all chassis elements such as blade servers management controller (MC), switches, fans, and power supplies.

In addition, the invention includes a separate blade server that is located in one of the

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