Going Mobile with HP

Well, I am back in HP space for a little bit – configuring up a couple of HP c7000 chassis with some Gen8 blades. Being Gen8 they come equipped with an iLO4 interface and it has given me the opportunity to use the HP iLO mobile app. For the purposes of this article, this app was being used on an iPad Air with a bluetooth keyboard.

Having got my basic configuration into the blades I started adding them to the app, which was a little tedius having to re-enter the same credentials all the time. Dear HP, I would love a setting to be able to have a default or global credential store.

This can be worked around however, particularly if you are familiar with QR Codes. Making some assumptions that your server room is secure, you can print out QR codes for your devices with a string of hostname;username;password to put on servers, and then adding servers becomes a scan of the QR code using the app (or a paper based booklet of ‘codes’). The big problem here is that if you do not keep these QR codes secure, anyone with a QR code reading app can obtain login credentials.

As seen in the first image, I have a list of iLO interfaces. There are a couple of servers there with detailed information, and that is collected once you connect to the device for the first time. There is very limited organisation of the devices, with the ability to have a favourites list and thats about it. Dear HP, I would really like to see the ability to see folder organisation in future releases of this app. This will become unweildy with lots of devices.

One of the really nice things that got my attention is that the app allows access to RIBCL scripting:

This has the potential of configuring or gathering information from the iLO using RIBCL scripts relatively easy. As seen in the picture I used this to configure the LDAP settings. Unfortunately it does require the scripts to be hosted on an accessible webserver, and this has security issues if you use login credentials in RIBCL. Dear HP – Please allow ability to upload scripts to app or enter manually so that credentials do not need to be stored in an insecure way.

Running the script will result in screen showing the verbose output of the RIBCL Commands. This isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Finally we get onto using the remote console functionality of the app.

I found that this is really geared towards holding the iPad in portrait mode and definitely not BT keyboard friendly. The only way to gain access to the function keys (F2) was to turn off my BT keyboard and access via the software keyboard.

That said, the remote console option was everything I expected it to be, and a nice touch was the ability to access the iLO administration web page out of the console as well by selecting the button in the lower right of screen.

Another interesting addition was the ability to mount DVD images, again with the caveat that they must be accessible via HTTP. It makes me think that HP are trying to make this application useful to the infrastructure administrator who needs to fix things fast.

Overall this is a really useful application if you’re a HP shop and need to access servers via iLO from time to time. The app, like many of HP’s products, does expect that you have some working knowledge of HP infrastructure and as a result lacks some of the more polished touches.

The expectation to have things available over HTTP is a double edged sword of functionality vs security – If the features were required, I would probably consider having a locked down webserver to deliver the scripts and ISO images.

I would like to see some more consideration made to increase compatibility with the tablet BT keyboards that are available as they make such a productivity difference when used with tablet.

HP iLO Console is availble for both Apple and Android devices foir free.