There are a lot of remote server management solutions out there (CIMC, DRAC, BMC, ILO). All solutions have there own set of API’s and functions. In a world where automation is becoming mainstream, the demand for an industry open standard has raised.
The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) has developed the answer to this question by creating an industry open standard for all remote server management solutions, called:
It consist of an object model that is referenced to server hardware, just like the Management Information Tree (MIT) within the Cisco UCS Manager, only made leaner so that the API could be used on ALL server management solutions: only the basic/general objects/functions are stored/available.
The object model can be accessed via a RESTful API with a Open Data Protocol (“OData”) convention, which is translated to a JSON schema representation.
If you think: “what is he saying?” than you’re probably are new to automation, here is small re-cap:
– RESTfull is the communication-layer between the client and server, it consist of an HTTP(S) request whereby you can retrieve/list objects (GET-methode) or create objects (PUT/POST-method) on a server. GET https://api.example.com/resources/ would retrieve a list of “resource” objects, from the “api.example.com” server, using the HTTPS protocol.
– The objects/resources structure on the server are defined in a Open Data Protocol (an open industry standard) representation.
– JSON is the language how the server and client communicate over the RESTfull communication path. JSON is widely adopted and has a large set of tools available (like Google Postmen and even Microsoft PowerShell).
With the Redfish API you now could develop a JSON script and execute it to all supported remote server management solutions without having to change the script!
This is in line with Cloud-principles where functionality is decoupled from the hardware: You could easily change your servers hardware, without having to change your automation-scripts!
As server-hardware(-specification) and it’s functionality becomes more generalized, it’s becoming more difficult for server-vendors to be distinctive. As Redfish is gaining more momentum and more server-vendors are adopting it, the distinctive-ness is becoming problematic.
Cisco is two-step ahead to their competitors, because they have their Unified Computing System which has a complete object-model database (MIT) in place (which they only have to translate to the OData standard) AND Cisco is also member of the Scalable Platforms Management Forum (SPMF) which develops Redfish (1+1=2 .. hmmm).
Redfish on their left-hand have a distinctive question from the developers which are asking generalized API’s and function, but on the other hand have to deal with the adoption of server-vendors. expect extensions to the Redfish standard that are server-vendor specific.
A couple of months ago, Cisco has introduced version 3 of their Integrated Management Controller (IMC) and with this version Redfish support is also introduced!
Redfish is still being developed and more and more functions become available. the next update is expected in Q3 of 2017.