Saturday 10 March 2012

IBM Blade (mis)Management – Disabled External Ports

We have an IBM Blade Center with two Management Modules, two Nortel Ethernet switches and two Brocade Fibre Channel switches.

The Management modules are used to provide the I/O Modules (the Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches) with basic network configuration (IP address, etc.). The rest of the configuration of the I/O Modules is done directly on the modules themselves (i.e. via telnet or a web browser and Java).

We have had an issue with the Blade Center where after an outage the external ports on the I/O Modules come up disabled. I had to connect to each of the modules and enable to external ports. Now, the first time this happened I assumed that some twit (me) had forgotten to save the configuration of the I/O Modules. So, of course I made extra sure that I saved the configuration.

The next outage we had the same thing happened. The external ports where disabled. However, it was obvious that the configuration had been saved because all the other settings (VLANs, etc.) were correct.

Later I discovered by accident that there’s a setting in the Management Module that overrides the I/O Modules. This setting is tucked away in the Admin/Power/Restart screen when all other configuration is access via the Configuration screen (or by connecting to the modules directly). And it seems that this setting defaults to disabled (although I can’t confirm that):

I/O Modules Advanced Setup

Now, I can perhaps think of a reason for allowing the Management Module to override the I/O Modules (maybe – if you want to disable all external I/O to a particular module, although we can do that by connecting to the modules themselves, the place where we would normally configure them). But why default to disabled? And if we enable the ports on the I/O modules themselves, shouldn’t the above setting also change to enabled?

It’s just not good enough!

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