I needed a new rack-server to fit in a standard 19" telco-rack. Your average rack-mounted server is 60 to 100 cm long. A rack-server may be really thin. 1U (4,5 cm) or less, but really long. Then again, your average telco rack is not long enough for a long server, they may be 40 to 50 cm and not all of them have brackets for mounting the back. My requirement of mounting a server into a telco-rack hugely limits the options to choose a server from. One final requirement I had was that the server must have IPMI 2.0, because that would guarantee KVM over IP.
But after a longish search I found one. The bad news was, that it was a Supermicro, a SuperServer 5015A-EHF-D525 to be exact. Supermicro's track-record on failing IPMI-security is known, see an earlier blog post about it. Anyway, I got a vendor from UK who would order one. They didn't have them in stock and such small rack-servers are quite inexpensive, but don't sell like hotcakes. Who would be crazy enough to want one? I am, so put an order in with the Boston Ltd. It didn't take them many weeks and I got my server delivered.
Here are the pics from front and back:
In the front there is couple of LEDs, power and reset buttons. In the back there are couple of USB 2.0 -ports and two RJ-45 for 100 Mbit/s Ethernet. It is possible to run IPMI on a shared Ethernet-port or a dedicated one. In my setup I didn't want to have the extra cable and went for a shared setup. The port announces itself as two different MAC-addresses and effectively gets two different DHCP-addresses. One for IPMI and one for the operating system.
This is what it looks inside:
Notice how the Intel SSD -drive is not attached properly yet at the time of taking the pic. The motherboard is really small. The only fan is in the PSU, no other ones are required as the Intel Atom CPU does not produce too much heat and the GPU isn't much of a rocket. The tiny box is almost empty, even with a 2.5" SSD in it.
In the BIOS I found that there is a lot of watchdogging to do, there are two of them:
I don't know what the BIOS watchdog is good for as it keeps triggering if turned on. For the IPMI's watchdog there is a Linux-daemon.
Anyway, except the small size and 32-bit Atom CPU there is nothing special in it. 10 years ago such a server would have been a state-of-the-art box, but on today's standards its just a small low-power unit.
On the positive side, IPMI's web console has a setting for IP Access Control. I tested it and it seems to work. It closes all the ports for everybody else. Since the raw rules are not available for inspection, there still may be couple of network blocks which are allowed. These days you cannot help being suspicious.
This is a special box. If you happen to need a silent low-power server, then go with a 5015A-EHF-D525.