Automatically Configuring a Server Blade Environment Using Positional Deployment
Original Publication Date: 2001-Oct-27
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Disclosed is a mechanism for deploying a particular persona to a server based on its physical position within a rack or chassis. The persona information includes the operating system and runtime software, boot characteristics, and firmware. By assigning a particular persona to a position within the chassis, the user can be assured that any general purpose server blade installed at that position will perform the assigned function. All of the persona information is stored remotely on a Deployment server and can be pushed to a particular server whenever it boots to the network. On power up, each server reads the slot location and chassis identification from the pins on the backplane. This information is read by the system BIOS and stored in a physical memory table which can be read by software. The system BIOS will then boot from the network and execute a boot image from the Deployment server which contains hardware detection software routines that gather data about the physical slot position as well as other data to uniquely identify this server hardware (such as the unique ID for the network interface card (NIC)). These hardware detection routines read the position of the server within the chassis and report information about the location back to the Deployment server. The Deployment server uses the obtained information to determine whether a new server is installed at the physical slot position. To determine if a new server is installed, it checks to see whether the unique NIC ID for the particular slot has changed since the last hardware scan operation. In the event that it detects a newly installed server in an assigned slot position, the Deployment Server will send additional instructions to the new server indicating how to boot the appropriate operating system and runtime software, as well as other operations to cause the new server to assume the persona of the previously installed server. This mechanism allows customers to create deployment policies which allow a server to be replaced or upgraded with new hardware but maintain identical operational function as before. When a server is replaced, it can automatically be redeployed with the same operating system and software that was installed on the previous blade. This invention minimizes customer downtime and simplifies the upgrade process, encouraging customers to upgrade to the latest hardware.