HP Insight Management Agents architecture for Windows servers

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1 HP Insight Management Agents architecture for Windows servers Technology brief, 2 nd edition Introduction... 3 A first look at the Insight Management Agents architecture... 3 HP Insight Management agents... 4 Foundation Agent... 4 Server Agent... 5 Storage Agent... 5 NIC Agent... 6 The SNMP Services component... 6 Microsoft SNMP Agent Service... 6 Management Information Base... 7 Enhancing SNMP Security... 7 Performing SNMP Sets... 7 Delivering SNMP Traps... 7 Additional agents monitoring and alerting functionality... 9 The HP Insight Event Notifier... 9 Process Monitoring The System Management Homepage framework System Management Homepage web server System Management Homepage HTTPS, single sign-on, and secure task execution Replicate Agent Settings capability Considerations when installing and configuring the Insight Agents Updating Insight Management Agents Understanding port use with Insight Management Agents and HP SIM Configuring the data collection interval... 15

2 Setting the server role Additional support for Insight Management on HP ProLiant servers HP Insight Management WBEM (WMI) Providers Support for ProLiant 100-series servers Support for Insight Management Agents on ProLiant Gen8 servers Conclusion For more information... 21

3 Introduction This technology brief is an overview of the HP Insight Management Agents for HP ProLiant servers running the Windows server operating system. Our goal is to provide an architectural overview of the entire set of client-side software components on ProLiant servers that provide integrated manageability using the HP Systems Insight Management solution. To get the most from this paper, you should already be familiar with HP Systems Insight Manager (HP SIM) in managed server environments. A first look at the Insight Management Agents architecture HP Insight Management Agents provide a robust solution for monitoring and managing ProLiant servers using HP Systems Insight Manager. To provide this functionality, which extends beyond that of simple SNMP-based management, the Insight Management Agents architecture requires the installation of a set of software components on each managed server. Although we commonly refer to them as the Insight Management Agents, you should actually think of these as three different groups of software components, each performing a core function in the Insight Manager architecture. The first group consists of the Insight agents and the individual device drivers. There are four different agents in the Insight architecture for Windows based servers. As a group, they collect all of the management information about the server, usually through the various device drivers. This information is reported and displayed in the Systems Insight Manager console and the System Management Homepage. This includes information about the server s health, key operating system statistics, and information about the server hardware. The Insight agents and the HP drivers that support them are available through the HP Service Pack for ProLiant at The SNMP Services are the second component of the architecture. They include the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service that provides the basic set of SNMP services between the managed server and HP SIM. The third component group is the System Management Homepage (SMH) framework. In addition to acting as a web server to deliver detailed information about the managed server as part of the SIM console, it also implements the core functionality that makes unique SIM features such as single sign-on and replicate agents settings possible. Figure 1 shows an overview of the Insight Management Agents architecture and the basic interoperation of the component groups. The sections that follow describe the roles of each of the components in the Insight Management architecture and provide more details about the architecture. 3

4 Figure 1: This is top-level overview of the HP Insight Management Agents architecture. HP Insight Management agents The four HP Insight Management agents make up the core of the architecture on managed servers. As a group, they are responsible for collecting all of the management information about the server and its software environment and storing the data in the Windows Registry. Using SNMP protocol, Insight processes such as HP SIM server and the System Management Homepage (or other SNMPbased management tools) access the information and display it to the user. Some of the Insight agents perform additional tasks within the Insight architecture. Foundation Agent The HP Insight Foundation Agent collects high-level system information about the managed server. As shown in Table 1, most of the information that the Foundation Agent collects comes from the Windows OS itself. The Foundation Agent stores the information in the Windows Registry as Management Information Base (MIB) data. 4

5 Table 1: System information that the Foundation Agent collects Information collected High-level server information (Host name, System role, OS installed) System Performance (OS statistics, CPU and memory utilization) File System information (Logical Drives, Drive utilization) HP software installed Clustering information Source Windows OS Windows OS Windows OS Windows Registry Windows OS In addition to collecting high-level system information, the Foundation Agent has additional roles. It is responsible for the low-level execution of all SNMP Sets within the Insight architecture. We will cover this function later in the section on SNMP Services. Server Agent The HP Insight Server Agent collects the basic server information, including the server s key subsystems configurations and health information. Table 2 lists the categories of information that the Server Agent collects and the sources for this information. Table 2: Information the Server Agent collects Information collected Server hardware information (Product ID, serial #, board revisions) CPU configuration Memory installed PCI devices and system slots Sensor information (fans, temperature, power supplies and redundancy) Critical events (hardware errors) Management processor information BladeSystem enclosure information Source SM BIOS SM BIOS SM BIOS and System Management driver SM BIOS, Windows OS System Management (Health) driver HP Integrated Management Log (IML) ilo ROM BIOS Storage Agent The HP Insight Storage Agent collects and delivers the core storage-related information, including information on storage controllers and their logical and physical drives. The Storage Agent supports HP SmartArray controllers as well as Fiber Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) and SAS HBAs. It also provides basic information on storage box enclosures. Using the HP storage drivers, the Storage Agent obtains most of this information from the disk controller firmware, although it obtains some from the drives (Table 3). 5

6 Table 3: Storage information that the Storage Agent collects Information collected Storage controller information (firmware revision, battery status) Logical drive information (fault tolerance, rebuild status) Physical Drive information (size, speed, location, performance data, pre-failure) Storage box infrastructure (fans, power supplies, temperature) Source Controller firmware Controller firmware Controller firmware Drive firmware Enclosure Services interface via controller firmware The Storage Agent and Insight Management Agents collect and report information on storage that belongs to the single host server. The Insight Agents do not report on multi-host storage on the network, such as SANs. This information is managed using WBEM-based Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) Storage Providers. You can find additional information on HP support for SMI-S at NIC Agent The HP Insight NIC Agent collects and stores information about the network controllers installed in the managed server. The NIC Agent gathers some of the information through the NIC miniport driver. The Windows OS collects other NIC information and stores it in MIB-II in the registry. Table 4 lists the categories and sources of information for the network controllers. Table 4: Networking information that the NIC Agent collects Information collected Adapter Information (firmware, speed, location, MAC) Interface information (Interface name, IPv4 address) Ethernet statistics NIC teaming configuration Source MIB-II, Windows OS, NIC miniport driver MIB-II, Windows OS NIC miniport driver, Windows OS Teaming intermediate driver The SNMP Services component The SNMP Services enable the flow of basic management information between the managed server and HP SIM. These components process SNMP Gets and Sets, as well as the SNMP Traps used in alerting. Microsoft SNMP Agent Service The Microsoft SNMP Agent Service provides the core set of SNMP services that the HP Insight Management system uses on a managed server. This includes the following services: 6

7 Fulfilling SNMP Gets to deliver information from the HP MIB to authorized requesting services. In the Insight architecture, the SIM server or a process associated with the SMH framework typically requests MIB information. Processing SNMP Sets, which are used to change SNMP configuration information as well as alert thresholds for server management information The Microsoft SNMP Agent Service provides a standard SNMP interface to external processes. But its internal structure is specific, using its own set of application program interfaces (APIs). On a managed server, the HP Insight Agents will only work with the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service. Management Information Base The Management Information Base defines all of the information collected about the managed system. In the HP Insight Architecture, the four Insight Agents collect the MIB information and store it in an extension to the Windows Registry. When a process requests MIB information, the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service uses the Insight Agents to retrieve information from the Windows Registry before delivering it to the process, typically the HP SIM server or the System Management Homepage. Enhancing SNMP Security The SNMP protocol provides basic security and access authorization using community strings. But standard SNMP protocol does not encrypt the community strings or the management information that it sends or receives. This leaves the information vulnerable to interception (being snooped) over the network. The HP Insight Management framework provides a more secure management environment by establishing a separate certificate-based HTTPS communication channel between the SIM server and the managed server. This channel is actually a part of the SMH framework, and the Insight Management framework uses it as the transport mechanism for all secure information. The Microsoft SNMP Agent Service sends other less sensitive information to the HP SIM server over standard SNMP. To enhance security, the Insight Management Agents architecture, using the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service, restricts SNMP writes to the local host only. This prevents any external agent from executing writes to the managed server. The HP SIM server is still able to implement SNMP Sets because it sends its commands over the encrypted link. These commands then execute locally. Performing SNMP Sets SNMP Sets are used to define the alerting thresholds for management information or to set SNMP configuration information. Because these operations are sensitive, the Insight Management architecture does not send SNMP Sets over the open SNMP connection between SIM and the managed server. Instead, the Insight Management architecture sends them over the secure HTTPS channel link that SIM establishes with the System Management Homepage framework. These Set requests then go to the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service. It, in turn, passes them to the appropriate HP SNMP Extension Agent and then to an Insight Management Agent. In the HP Insight Management Agents architecture, the Foundation Agent receives and executes all SNMP Sets as part of its extended functionality. Delivering SNMP Traps One function of a management system is to deliver alerts whenever the values for key system parameters exceed or fall below their threshold values or whenever important system events occur. For example, you may want to receive an alert whenever disk utilization exceeds 85%. The Insight 7

8 Management Agents architecture uses SNMP Trap notifications to deliver the alerts to the SIM server, which processes and then displays them on the SIM console. Several different components of the Insight Management architecture, including parts of each of the four Insight Agents, monitor the MIB and process the information to determine when to issue alerts: Remote Alerter Threads Each Insight Management agent has a remote alerter thread that monitors its portion of the HP MIB in the Windows Registry for registry change events. When the thread detects a change that requires an alert, such as a threshold being exceeded, it writes an event to the Windows Event Log with a pre-defined Event ID. The HP Trap Thread This extension to the Microsoft SNMP Agent Service scans the Windows Event Log for alert events that have been written to it by the Remote Alerter Threads. It also detects other key events in the log that should generate an alert. The Microsoft SNMP Agent Service Based on the events selected by the HP Trap Thread, the SNMP Agent Service generates the actual SNMP Traps and sends them to the SIM server for display on the management console. Figure 2 shows the Insight Manager alerting architecture. This is a slightly more detailed view of one section of the overall Insight Agents architecture shown in Figure 1. 8

9 Figure 2: Architecture of HP Insight Manager alerting Additional agents monitoring and alerting functionality The HP Insight Agents architecture provides additional functionality that is unique to the HP SIM solution environment. The HP Insight Event Notifier The HP Insight Event Notifier service provides a mechanism for the Insight Management Agents architecture to send notifications to specified recipients when alert events occur on the managed server. The Insight Event Notifier service is an alternative alerting mechanism. It is designed for management of a small server installation (typically fewer than 10 servers) that does 9

10 not require the full set of capabilities available through HP Systems Insight Manager. Figure 2 shows where the Event Notifier service fits within the Insight Manager alert architecture. Although the Insight Event Notifier is part of the Insight Management architecture on managed servers, it is disabled by default. You can activate this service locally on a managed server through the Computer Management administrative tool. Once you enable the service, you can use the Event Notifier Configuration Wizard to configure the outbound Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server for sending alerts as well as the list of notification recipients for the Event Notifier service. The configuration wizard is part of the HP Management Agents program group on the managed server (Figure 3). Figure 3: Running Event Notifier configuration Process Monitoring The HP Insight Management Agents architecture can also monitor any processes running on a managed server and send alerts when they start, stop, or restart. This functionality is part of the Foundation Agent. You can configure it with the HP Management Agents configuration utility. It is accessible from the Control Panel of any managed server with the Insight Management Agents architecture installed (Figure 4). 10

11 Figure 4: Running the HP Management Agents configuration utility Figure 5 shows the Process Monitor tab for the Management Agents configuration utility. With Process Monitor, you can configure the Insight Management architecture to send alerts to HP SIM on the Start, the Stop, or the Start and Stop of any process on the server. The default setting for monitoring each process is None. In that case, the Insight Management architecture will not send an alert when the process is started or stopped. 11

12 Figure 5: Setting process monitoring in the Management Agents configuration utility The System Management Homepage framework The System Management Homepage framework plays several roles in the Insight Management Agents architecture. It retrieves and displays the detailed management information for a managed server through the System Management Homepage. The framework also provides a set of services that are integral to delivering many of the special features that are part of the Systems Insight Management solution. These include a web server and its various web applications as well as the Secure Task Execution and Configure Agent Settings services. Figure 6 shows a detailed view of the framework, which is part of the Insight Management Agents architecture shown in Figure 1. 12

13 Figure 6: The System Management Homepage framework System Management Homepage web server At the heart of the System Management Homepage framework is an Apache-based web server and an infrastructure for supporting a set of plug-in web applications that we developed. The web applications retrieve the detailed information on the managed server from the MIB. The apps put the data into a meaningful format and create the HTML pages that comprise the System Management Homepage. You can then use a web browser to view the pages that the SMH web server of each managed system delivers. The SMH web server also provides the execution platform for additional web-based applications that are part of the Insight Management system. These include the web-based implementations of HP Diagnostics and the HP Array Configuration Utility, as well as applications such as the HP Version Control Agent. Although it is Apache-based, the web server is a locked-down, non-extensible version of the Apache server that is not accessible for general-purpose use by other applications running on the server. System Management Homepage The System Management Homepage is a set of active web pages that aggregate a system s management information and part of the overall HP Systems Insight Manager solution. As shown in Figure 7, the management console displays general descriptive information about the managed server, and presents information that the HP SIM server gathered over the standard SNMP connection. Often, when you drill-down from HP SIM to view the detailed information for the managed server, you are in fact viewing the System Management Homepage for that server. The browser displays the System Management Homepage in a separate window. In this instance, the System Management Homepage for the managed server was invoked when an administrator clicked on the Health Status choice from the SIM console. You can also access the SMH for a server directly at Port 2381 (a reserved IANA port) of the server s IP address. This requires OS password authentication. If you have configured the Insight Agents properly, at either installation or 13

14 subsequently using the Configure and Repair Agents capability in HP SIM, you are automatically logged into the System Management Homepage when accessing it through HP SIM. This is part of the HP SIM single sign-on functionality. Figure 7: SIM management console and SMH for a ProLiant server HTTPS, single sign-on, and secure task execution An additional role of the SMH framework is to provide a secure communications environment for the Insight Management Agents architecture. SNMP does not provide secure, encrypted communications between the managed server and the remote requesting process. To address this, the SMH framework implements HTTPS, a separate SSL-based secure communications link and protocol between each managed server and the HP SIM server. While HP SIM continues to use the standard SNMP service to retrieve basic MIB information, all sensitive traffic (including threshold Sets, configuration data, and other commands) is sent over this secure HTTPS link. A configurable trust relationship also provides certificate-based authentication between the managed servers and the SIM server. This authentication eliminates the need for a user to log in to each managed server and forms the basis for the Insight Manager single sign-on functionality. Without the SMH framework, SIM single sign-on would not be possible. The trust model also allows SIM to perform automated tasks on managed servers without storing the credentials of the user who sets up the task. This is called Secure Task Execution. Replicate Agent Settings capability The SMH framework implements the remote configuration capabilities of the Insight Management Agents architecture using the Configure Agent Settings functionality, which is part of the Replicate Agent Settings capability. To accomplish this, the service establishes a protocol that allows HP SIM 14

15 to query the SMH framework for the configuration settings of various components of the client-side Insight architecture. This includes the Insight agent settings, general SNMP settings, the SMH security settings, and others. The SIM server and the SMH framework can then pass changes to configuration settings back and forth between them over the HTTPS link. When the Replicate Agent Settings service receives the new parameters, it changes the configuration settings on the managed server. The Replicate Agents Settings capability in HP uses this core service of the SMH framework. In HP SIM, you can use the Replicate Agents Settings functionality to duplicate the agent settings of one reference server across an entire group of managed servers. Without the SMH framework and the Replicate Agents Settings service installed on the managed servers, the Replicate Agents Settings functionality in HP SIM cannot work. Considerations when installing and configuring the Insight Agents There are several important factors you must take into account while running the installation and configuration processes of Insight Agents. Updating Insight Management Agents In addition to the latest device drivers and utilities for HP ProLiant servers, the HP Service Pack for ProLiant contains updated Insight Management Agents. This provides a tested and trouble-free method for keeping the Insight Agents and drivers on managed servers up to date. Understanding port use with Insight Management Agents and HP SIM The various software components that comprise the HP SIM environment use several different system ports for communications. Table 5 lists key ports and the software components that use them. Table 5: HP SIM port usage System Port(s) Usage 161, 162 SNMP traffic between Microsoft SNMP Agent Service and HP SIM server 2381 Secure HTTPS link between SIM server and SMH Framework 2301 Used by SIM to identify management capabilities in a managed server Serving web pages from HP SIM to the management console browser When you use HP SIM as a management solution, it is important to keep the port addresses open within the internal networks. Internal firewalls that block these ports can cause parts of HP SIM to function improperly. Configuring the data collection interval The Insight Management Agents collect information on the managed server at regular intervals. This is known as polling. You can configure how frequently the agents collect data from the managed server, setting the data collection interval from as short as every five seconds to once every hour. 15

16 Using a short data collection interval allows the agents to provide more frequently updated information on the server. You may find this useful for closely monitored systems. But a shorter data collection interval consumes more system resources and can affect system performance at some level. The default value for the data collection interval is two minutes. You can configure the data collection interval under the SNMP Settings tab of the Management Agents configuration utility, from the SMH, or from HP SIM. The data collection interval does not affect the delivery of SNMP traps. Traps are event-driven and are sent immediately whenever a condition requiring an alert occurs. Setting the server role You can use the Insight Management Agents architecture to define server roles for any servers that HP SIM manages. The Server Role is a user-defined string of up to 256 characters. You can typically use this string to identify a server s function in the network or even its physical location. You can set the Server Role in several ways: Using Configure and Repair Agents in HP SIM From the SMH of the managed server From the Management Agents configuration utility 16

17 You can use the Server Role field as one of the search criteria in the HP SIM Advanced Search function. This allows it to find groups of servers based on their Server Role and to create SIM Collections from these groups. Figure 8 shows an Advanced Search screen using Server Role as a search criterion. Figure 8: Advanced Search in HP SIM using Server Role as the criterion Additional support for Insight Management on HP ProLiant servers Support for management of HP ProLiant servers using HP SIM continues to expand in response to the increasing need for more systems management in complex environments. HP Insight Management WBEM (WMI) Providers The HP Insight Management Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) Providers offer an alternative to the SNMP-based Insight Agents for collecting and delivering managed system information to HP SIM. WBEM is a defined standard for a set of management and Internet technologies intended to unify management of distributed computing environments. The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) develops and maintains the WBEM standard. The HP WBEM Providers are based on Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Microsoft s implementation of the WBEM standard. WBEM Providers deliver the management information they collect to the WMI service, part of the Windows operating system. The WMI service acts as the client-side interface to HP SIM in the same way that that the Microsoft SNMP Service does in the Insight Agents architecture. The WBEM Providers client-side architecture also incorporates the System Management Homepage framework. Systems using WBEM Providers and those running Insight Agents can co-exist within HP SIM. HP SIM will discover and transparently manage servers running either type of client-side management 17

18 architecture. You can also install both WBEM Providers and Insight Agents on single managed server if needed. Support for ProLiant 100-series servers Beginning with our G6 servers, the HP Insight Management Agents and HP SIM support ProLiant 100-series servers. Previously, ProLiant 100-series servers supported only the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) for system management. HP Systems Insight Manager 5.3 provides full integration with ProLiant 100-series G6 servers, including discovery and association with the Lights Out 100 management processors on the servers. Support for Insight Management Agents on ProLiant Gen8 servers ProLiant Gen8 servers support the new Agentless Management model that is part of the ilo Management Engine. With Agentless Management, ilo and ilo firmware monitor the health of server and server components and supply this information directly to Insight Manager, including Traps and Alerts. Agentless Management allows you to manage the server using HP Systems Insight Manager without installing the SNMP agents. The new Agentless Management Service (AMS) is software that you can install and use in conjunction with Agentless Management to deliver more information about the server and the OS than with Agentless Management alone. Although ProLiant Gen8 servers feature the new Agentless Management model, HP still supports the Insight Management Agents on these systems. There are several reasons that you may want to continue using the Insight Management Agents, including one or more of the following. Insight Management Agents support the collection and reporting of some data that HP does not yet support with Agentless Management or with Agentless Management and AMS. You may want to stay with a single server management model in data centers with both Gen8 servers and older ProLiant servers. Figure 9 shows the set of information that the SNMP Agents supply to Systems Insight Manager compared to that of Agentless Management. SNMP Agents deliver more information than Agentless Management, particularly for NICs and external storage. 18

19 Figure 9: This is a comparison of the server health data supplied by the SNMP Agents and the data supplied using Agentless Management. Asterisks indicate areas where SNMP Agents deliver a more extensive set of data than the Agentless Management. Based on the server data that you need to monitor, there are several specific situations when you should install the agents if you are managing a ProLiant Gen8 server using HP SIM 7.0 or HP Insight Control 7.0. They include: When you need to monitor server performance using HP Insight Control Performance Management When you need to monitor HP storage devices other than the HP Smart Array controller When you use a third-party SNMP product, such as Computer Associates or Tivoli When you need to monitor additional MIBs for the server, including the full MIB2, RFC1514 Host Resource MIB, MSFT LANMAN MIB, or VMware MIB.ost agents When you want to use a system health threshold for disk or processor utilization Conclusion The HP Insight Management Architecture for Windows servers offer you a robust solution for monitoring and managing HP ProLiant servers. It provides SNMP-based system management that integrates into the HP SIM solution framework. It is also more secure than traditional SNMP management solutions. Although HP introduced WBEM-based Providers as an alternative client-side management solution, we continue to support the Insight Management Agents. We support the SNMP Agents across the ProLiant server line, including ProLiant 100-series servers and the ProLiant Gen8 servers. 19

20 20

21 For more information Visit the URLs listed below if you need additional information. Resource description HP Systems Insight Manager Information on HP System Management Homepage HP Systems Insight Manager 7.0 and HP Agentless Management overview Tech Brief HP Insight Management WBEM (WMI) Providers for Windows HP Service Pack for ProLiant Download Web address c /c pdf em/index.html cks/en/index.html Send comments about this paper to Follow us on Twitter: Copyright 2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. TC , June 2012

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