Dell, Emerson, HP and Intel to develop a replacement for IPMI server management

Four prominent data center players have announced plans to replace the ageing out-of-band hardware management protocol known as Intelligent Platform Management Interface, which they say is outdated.

IPMI was first introduced in 1998, with Intel leading development of the spec. Just recently it was revised to version 2.0, but that's not enough to manage modern IT hardware. So Intel, Dell, HP and Emerson Network Power are working to create a new standard they call Redfish. The standard is currently under development and shortly will be submitted for review to an industry standards body, the partners said in a statement.

Out-of-band management means servicing hardware independent regardless of the OS and whether or not the machine is on. It can be used to monitor or change BIOS/UEFI settings or monitor system level stats, like temperature, voltage, fans, and power supplies.

IPMI came out in 1998 and is pretty much a standard among hardware vendors, both PC and power management. But there are very few technologies from 1998 still in use today and IPMI has fallen behind what servers are doing. It lacks the complexity and scalability for today's data centers.

According to the companies involved in development, Redfish uses a modern network interface style, allowing access to data using even simple, script-based programming methods. Redfish is designed to improve scalability and expand data access and analysis, help lower costs, and further enable feature-rich remote management while ensuring a secure solution that protects investment.

Redfish's creators say the technology is an evolution of IPMI that gets beyond its limitations. When IPMI was introduced more than a decade ago, servers were managed by 8-bit microcontrollers, which limited what IPMI could do. Microcontrollers now are 32-bit, so they can handle much more data. Redfish will be able to handle managing whole racks of systems or just a single machine.

The next step for the partners is to submit the specification to the Distributed Management Task Force, an industry body that also manages and approved of IPMI. The partners have given no release date. More information can be found on the Redfish FAQ page and the rest of the site.

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