Impressions of Dell EMC OpenManage Enterprise

Dell EMC OpenManage Enterprise has now been available available as a Tech Release for a couple of months now, and I have recently had a opportunity to sit down and do some evaluation of the product at work.

The following thoughts and comments are made based on the version 1.0.0 (build 543) appliance.

DellOMEnt02-blur

 

OpenManage Enterprise (OMEnt) is described by Dell EMC as the next generation of their  Open Manage Essentials (OMEss) platform. At face value it has some really good features going for it:

  • System is now deployed from an appliance template (OVF, VHD etc). No more having to customise a host build for the application, and no more licensing considerations.
  • The UI is now HTML5. I can’t begin to describe how happy I am to see the end of silverlight…
  • Information and UI simplification.

Installation of the appliance was painless, and I had my test install up and running in under 10 minutes, which again is quite a welcome thing. Previous OpenManage Essentials installed usually took much longer after ensuring the prerequisites software installs were met, and mucking around with the interactive install.

Upon logging in, your eyes are in for a treat. The new HTML5 UI makes OMEss look positively archaic. Dell EMC have largely adopted the interface design seen in their OpenManage Mobile (OMM) application and the whole login dashboard is refreshingly uncluttered. The same goes for the whole UI really, and I think this is best shown in the device views.

Another excellent new feature is the overhaul of the firmware management within OMEnt. It is now possible to configure multiple baselines for firmware based on network share location or by using the Dell EMC online repository. This is fantastic news for larger organisations that like to establish firmware baselines and schedule their platform updates, rather than having to do some fancy repository juggling that OMEss forced you to do.  The one issue I do see with this so far is that you cannot import firmware version information from an existing device to establish what the baseline should be.

Update: Version 2.4 of OMEss released Jan 25 supports multiple firmware baselines as well.

Many of the other features currently remain the same as OMEss, albeit in in a much nicer UI, so I do not plan to go through those.

Email alerts have also had a facelift, now being full HTML, rather than the plain text of OMEss. This I have mixed feelings about because for email alerts at least, pretty formatting seems overkill and gets in the way of information. Below is an example of one of the new look alerts.

DellOMEnt-EmailAlert

Being a version 1.0.0 Tech Release build, it definitely has a number of issues that will need resolving before the next planned release during Q2-Q3 2018. Some of the issues I have experienced include:

  • AD/LDAP integration doesn’t appear to be working
  • Logins cannot have a ‘.’ in the username
  • In order to import configuration templates from devices, SMB1 must be enabled in application settings. This one tripped me up and left me frustrated for a good day.
  • Navigation around application logs is not terribly intuitive. When the configuration template import failed (see above), there was no immediate way to find a log file to find out why it had failed. I eventually found it buried in the jobs section of the site.
  • It is not possible to archive alerts in a way that they are cleared as being active in dashboards, but remain associated with the device. This can be very useful for forensic troubleshooting of a server (e.g. oh look, it had memory issues 3 times in last 12 months). Currently the only way to “clear” an active alert is to delete it from OMEss/OMEnt.

Being a Tech Release of the software also means that there is a reasonable amount of technical information not available yet or vague. One such example was that in the build white paper, it advised to install on “fast storage”. I am pretty sure “fast storage” could mean a number of different things to people – SSD, SAN, RAID Array, High RPM disk?

Luckily, there is an active Dell EMC Community Forum where you can ask questions and leave feedback. My experience there has been mostly a positive one.

OMEnt will not be replacing Essentials any time soon though, with a 2.4 release of OMEss on the 25th January and future release look likely to be scheduled as OMEnt still appears to lack some features of OMEss such as integration with OpenManage Mobile, which in the install I was using there were references to in the documentation, however did not appear in any of the application settings menus.

The appearance of OMEnt as an appliance also raises questions about the future for the suite of additional applications associated with the OpenManage suite including:

  • OpenManage Power Center
  • OpenManage License Manager
  • OpenManage Repository Manager

One of the “useful” things about OMEss install on a host system was that you were able to install these additional tools on the same host. I am particularly hopeful that Dell EMC will look into integrating the features of these products into the appliance itself – for example I couldn’t imagine there being a huge jump to store historical power and temperature data from the iDRAC to draw charts with, which would almost make power center redundant (some code would need to be written around power policy as well). License Manager was purely about exporting and storing licenses from management interfaces, that could be integrated into OMEnt as well.

Overall the Tech Release of OMEnt shows significant improvements in the UI and ability to manage servers and you can see that there is great potential there for this to be a much better management platform that it’s predecessor. If you are only needing basic monitoring and firmware management, then you may want start your own evaluation of the Tech Release.

However if you are an OMEss power user, Making extensive use of Configuration Management for Deployment along with firmware repository management and using the secondary applications like OpenManage Mobile, Power Center and Repository Manager, I would say that you may wish to hold off on rolling out OMEnt until reviewing the next release – right now it’s not quite there yet, but many things are on the roadmap.

 

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