Method for Automatically Configuring Static Network Addresses in a Server Blade Environment
Original Publication Date: 2001-Oct-27
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Disclosed is a method for automatically assigning fixed, predetermined network settings to operating systems running on server blades. This method includes an integrated hardware configuration which combines a network switch, a management processor, and multiple server blades into a single chassis which shares a common network interconnect. This disclosure combines this hardware environment with firmware on the management processor to create an automatic method for assigning fixed, predetermined network settings to each of the server blades. This method embeds the network configuration logic into the management processor firmware. The management processor has knowledge of each of the server blades in the chassis, their physical slot location, and a unique ID identifying their network interface card (NIC). The management processor statically allocates network settings to each of the blades based on physical slot position, ensuring that each blade always receives the same network settings. The management processor then responds to requests from the server blades using the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), thus communicating the network settings to each blade. Each DHCP request is correlated by the management processor, using the unique NIC ID to look up the slot position and the assigned network configuration. In the event that a blade is replaced due to a failure or upgrade, the newly installed blade will continue to receive the same network settings and function identically to the previous blade. To prevent an external DHCP server from possibly being able to interfere with or modify the network configurations specified by the management processor, the management processor configures the network switch to prevent DHCP broadcasts from leaving the chassis. DHCP messages are confined to the server blade chassis using standard Level 3 packet filtering in the network switch. Since all of the server blades share a common network interconnect, the integrated network switch is able to prevent DHCP messages from reaching the outside network. Because network settings are automatically configured by the server blade environment itself, no special deployment software is required to configure static network settings on the blades. Each server blade can be installed with an identical copy of an operating system, with each operating system configured to dynamically retrieve network settings using the DHCP protocol. Since the DHCP protocol is confined to the server blade enclosure and is tightly controlled by the management processor using intrinsic knowledge of the NIC ID and the position of the blade, this solution guarantees that each server blade will receive the same network settings each time it is booted.