Remote Provisioning Module

Module enables the automation of installation and configuration processes of operating systems on dedicated servers. One of the most important requirements of the module is to create and synchronize a remote agent in EasyDCIM. The Remote Provisioning Module is based on a remote agents and cannot work properly without it. You can read how to add and configure a remote agents in this section: Remote Agents

Example of use

As was already stated before, EasyDCIM will serve as your main (master) application. Now imagine you run two locations – one in London and the other one in New York. The devices in your London facility work in the 10.10.10.0/24 subnetwork, whilst those in New York in the 192.168.56.0/24 subnetwork. As for both locations you will need separate DHCP and TFTP servers, the next step is to install in each data center a remote agent (slave) that already has DHCP, TFTP and Samba servers built into it. The remote agent works on port 8080 and listens to the master EasyDCIM application for commands (EasyDCIM adds only relevant tasks to its database). An example of such a task may be as follows: “Start X system installation on Y device in London location”. The remote agents set up in New York and London check every five seconds if there are any new orders from EasyDCIM. The New York location will find no instructions to carry on with, but the application in London will immediately begin the process of OS installation soon upon detecting the task. In other words, each slave application has to communicate with the master device only, independently of one another.

Requirements

  • Remote Agent has to be launched on a server that has a direct access to the Internet. It is required so as to automatically download the necessary operating system installation files during the process of dedicated server provisioning. Proxy servers are not supported.
  • No other DHCP servers can be active in the VLAN network of the remote agent server.
  • Dedicated servers on which you want to install the operating system have to be located in the same VLAN network as remote agent server.
  • Dedicated servers have to support the Preboot Execution Environment feature (PXE).
  • The device in EasyDCIM requires a correctly set ‘MAC Address’ field in order to identify the device in the network.

Operating principle

The installer operates on the basis of ISC-DHCP server and TFTP server. A DHCP server is an essential component of PXE technology, as it needs to assign the IP address to the machine that is loading the PXE boot, as well as provide information about how the boot loader file is named and where it can be downloaded from. Even if static IP addresses are used in the current local network, it will still be necessary to use this server. The TFTP server contains necessary files of network boot loaders.

During the installation of an operating system EasyDCIM automatically performs a number of specific actions:

  1. Remote Agent generates the configuration file of the DHCP server based on the ‘MAC Address’ field of the device.
  2. Then it restarts the device using IPMI, PDU or a manual method and puts it into the PXE boot mode.
  3. Once the PXE boot mode is on, the device sends a request to the DHCP server to assign the IP address set in the EasyDCIM ‘IP Address’ field.
  4. The DHCP server assigns the appropriate IP address.
  5. Remote Agent downloads the relevant boot loader file from the TFTP server and uploads it to the memory of the device.
  6. Based on the uploaded boot loader file, the kickstart file is requested from EasyDCIM containing the configuration of the selected operating system.
  7. The kickstart file is downloaded from the specified Remote Agent IP address.
  8. Based on the kickstart file, Remote Agent automatically installs the operating system:
    • downloads the required system files
    • initiates pre-installation scripts
    • sets the time zone
    • sets the language
    • partitions the disk
    • creates user accounts and sets a root password
    • sets the master IP address
    • sets additional IP addresses and network interfaces
    • installs additional system packages
    • initiates post-installation scripts
    • finishes the installation.
  9. Once the installation is complete, corresponding information is sent to EasyDCIM. This principle of operation applies to most of the installation templates. Some templates may slightly vary, but the fundamentals remain the same.

DHCP server operation

The DHCP server is installed automatically together with the remote agent installation. The configuration file is located in the /opt/easydcim_remote/system/etc/dhcpd.conf directory.

It is generated automatically on the basis of the data stored in the admin panel each time:

  • A new subnet is added in the remote agent configuration
  • Module settings are saved
  • The installation process of the operating system starts
  • The installation process of the operating system ends
  • The operating system installation process is removed from the queue.

Since this file is generated anew every single time one of the above actions is performed, we do not recommend making any changes because they will be automatically lost along during the next generation process.

TFTP server operation

The TFTP server is installed automatically with each remote agent installation. The configuration file is located in the /etc/default/tftpd-hpa directory. The directory with TFTP files is located in the following path: /opt/easydcim_remote/system/tftpboot. It contains the bootloader files required to start the installation process. Additional configuration of the TFTP server is not required.

Templates

Supported operating systems

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Windows systems

  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 10 April 2018

Rescue and utility systems

  • SystemRescueCd 5.2.2 - A Gentoo-based live CD distribution for system repairing and data recovery
  • Memtest86 + 5.01 - Diagnostic tools for verifying the correct RAM operation
  • Hiren’s BootCD 15.2 - A package of special programs for diagnosis, repair, disks, optimization and anti-virus protection
  • Clonezilla 2.5.2-31 - Software designed for creating, playing and cloning computer disks
  • WIPE HARD DRIVE - Hard drive cleanup script

Templates

You can easily check the list of supported templates in the ′Templates′ section. The system supports installation templates for operating systems as well as applications.

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Template Matching

The best way to match the template to your needs is to create a copy of the selected template. Owing to this, you will keep the base template. We do not recommend editing basic profiles as well as fields such as:

  • Architecture
  • Edition
  • GPXE Script

As part of the customization of your template, you can freely edit such fields as:

  • Mirror - defines the mirror from which the installation files are downloaded. You can change it to the one matching your country.
  • Disk Layout - defines the partitioning method of the disk. This script depends on the specific distribution of the relational system.
  • Packages - specifies a list of system packages (each in a new line) that will be installed.
  • Pre-Installation Script - specifies the script that will be executed before installing the operating system
  • Post Installation Script - specifies the installation script that will be executed after the installation of the operating system.
  • Timezone - defines the time zone that will be set during the installation of the operating system
  • Language - defines the language that will be set when the operating system is installed.

Templates Cache

When you use the template for the first time during the server provisioning process, the required system installation files are downloaded. In order not to download them during each new installation, they will be stored in appropriate catalogs. Each template has its own folder into which the installation files are downloaded. These directories are located in the following path: /opt/easydcim_remote/system/cache. The cache directory of the template can be freely cleaned using the ‘Clear Cache’ mechanism.

Settings

The module settings are globally applied to all operating system installations.

  • Remote Agent - remote agent we want to use
  • Reboot Method - device restart method
    • Manual - manual restart of the device by an administrator
    • IPMI - device restart using IPMI and automatically entering the PXE mode
    • IPMI (no PXE) - device restart using the IPMI protocol without entering the PXE mode
    • PDU - reset of PDU outlet assigned to the device (for APC and Raritan devices)
  • Send Email Info To Administrator - sending information about the start and end of the installation to the email address of the selected administrator
  • Notification Recipients - selection of e-mail addresses to which information about the start and end of the installation shall be sent
  • Send Email Info To Client - sending information about the start and end of the installation to the email address of the client (owner) of the given server
  • Reinstall Template - selection of the template which will be used for reinstallation, during e.g. service termination
  • Nameserver 1 - the first default name server
  • Nameserver 2 - the second default name server
  • Bootloader - the default boot file

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Basic module configuration

The operating system installation module needs minimal configuration, depending on the network environment in which it is launched. You can check the requirements for running the module on your network infrastructure in the appropriate section.

First, make sure the module is working properly. This can be determined using the ′Remote Agent Configuration Verification′ widget that presents information about the status of individual services and configurations

Installation templates

Templates should be synchronized using the ‘Templates Synchronization’ button from the action menu. If you do not want to adjust the template to our needs, simply skip this process and move on to the next stages of configuration.

Operating system installation

Each installation module is assigned to the appropriate location in the system. For example, if the installation module works for the ‘New York’ site, then all devices in the system that are assigned to the ‘New York’ site will be supported by this installation module.

To start operating system installation, choose the ‘Re-Install OS’ option from the action menu. In the configuration fields specify the following:

  • OS template - decide which OS instillation template to use (it can be an operating system or a diagnostic tool)
  • Hostname - the hostname value is automatically downloaded from the device’s Hostname metadata and can be freely changed. This will be the hostname of the operating system that will be installed on the target server.
  • Username - the username value is automatically downloaded from the SSH username of the device and can be freely changed. This will be the name of a standard user of the operating system that will be installed on the target server.
  • Password - the password value is automatically downloaded from the device’s SSH Password metadata and can be freely changed. This will be the password of a standard user of the operating system that will be installed on the target server.
  • Root Password - the root password value is automatically downloaded from the SSH Root Password of the device and can be freely changed. This will be the root password of the operating system that will be installed on the target server.
  • The installation will start soon after clicking on the ′Save Changes′ button.

Device Configuration

By default, each device uses the global settings of the installation module. However, you can easily adjust the configuration to a particular device. To change the configuration, select ‘Configuration’ from the action menu and specify the following in the configuration fields:

  • Gateway - the default gateway that will be used in the configuration of network interfaces on the target server
  • Netmask - subnet mask that will be used in the configuration of network interfaces on the target server
  • Nameserver 1 - the first name server (if empty, this value will be taken from the global settings of the installation module)
  • Nameserver 2 - the second name server (if empty, this value will be taken from the global settings of the installation module)
  • Reboot Method - a device restart method downloaded by default from the global settings of the installation module
  • Bootloader - a startup file downloaded by default from the global settings of the installation module

Network interfaces

The installer automatically configures network interfaces based on the following variables:

Basic configuration (for IPv4):
  • Parent IP address - downloaded always from the metadata of IP Address of the given server
  • Additional IP Addresses - downloaded always from the metadata of Additional IP
  • Addresses of the given server
  • Netmask - taken from device settings
  • Gateway - taken from device settings
  • Nameserver 1 - downloaded from device settings
  • Nameserver 2 - downloaded from device settings
Configuration while the integration with the IPAM module (for IPv4) is enabled:
  • Parent IP address - downloaded always from the metadata of IP Address of the given server
  • Additional IP addresses - downloaded always from the metadata of Additional IP Addresses of the given server
  • Netmask - taken from the subnet settings in the IPAM module. For example, if the metadata value of IP Address is 192.168.56.3, the system will automatically search for the subnet assigned to this device which contains the specified IP address in the IPAM module. If such a subnet is found, the appropriate Netmask value will be set based on this subnet.
  • Gateway - downloaded from the subnet settings in the IPAM module. For example, if the metadata value of IP Address is 192.168.56.3, the system will automatically search for the subnet assigned to this device which contains the specified IP address in the IPAM module. If such a subnet is found, the appropriate Gateway value will be set based on this subnet.
  • Nameserver 1 - downloaded from the subnet settings in the IPAM module. For example, if the metadata value of IP Address is 192.168.56.3, the system will automatically search for the subnet assigned to this device which contains the specified IP address in the IPAM module. If such a subnet is found, the appropriate Nameserver1 value will be set based on this subnet.
  • Nameserver 2 - downloaded from the subnet settings in the IPAM module. For example, if the metadata value of IP Address is 192.168.56.3, the system will automatically search for the subnet assigned to this device which contains the specified IP address in the IPAM module. If such a subnet is found, the appropriate Nameserver 2 value will be set based on this subnet.