Home / What is IPMI? A Guide to Intelligent Platform Management Interface

What is IPMI? A Guide to Intelligent Platform Management Interface


IPMI is a collection of computer interface specifications for managing devices outside of the network. Accessing computer systems out of network means not having to be in the same room as the system’s physical assets. IPMI allows for remote monitoring without the need for permission from the operating system.

IPMI is a distinct piece of hardware that connects to a motherboard or server. The Baseboard Management Controller is a separate piece of hardware (BMC). The BMC functions as a wise middleman. The interaction between platform hardware and system management software is managed by BMC. The BMC receives and responds to reports from sensors within a system. IPMI uses these data to ensure that the system is operating at maximum efficiency.

IPMI works with industry-standard specification sets like the Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB) and the Intelligent Chassis Management Bus (ICMB) (ICMB). To handle system monitoring tasks, these requirements work together.

IPMI monitors important metrics that describe the operational status of a server’s hardware in addition to these standard specification sets. IPMI keeps track of the power supply, fan speed, server health, security information, and operating system status.

You can compare IPMI’s services to those provided by the on-board diagnostic equipment your mechanic employs. A vehicle’s computer system can be monitored even while the engine is turned off using an on-board diagnostic tool.

IPMI Components

IPMI is a vendor-neutral server monitoring standard specification. It includes the following functions that aid server monitoring.

A Baseboard Management Controller

This is the micro-controller component central to the functions of an IPMI.

Intelligent Chassis Management Bus (ICMB)

An interface protocol that allows chasses to communicate with one another.

Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB)

Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB) is a communication protocol that allows controllers to communicate with one another.

IPMI Memory

An IPMI sensor’s data records and system event logs are stored in the memory.
Authentication Features — This aids in the authentication of users and the establishment of sessions.

Interfaces for sending IPMI messages

These interfaces specify how IPMI messages are sent. IPMI uses either a direct-out-of-band or a sideband local-area network to send messages. IPMI uses virtual local-area networks to communicate.

IPMI Benefits

IPMI’s major value proposition is its ability to manage many machines in various physical locations. One key advantage that other monitoring tools lack is the ability to monitor and manage systems independent of a machine’s operating system. Other significant advantages include:

Predictive Monitoring

Downtime is caused by unexpected server failures. Downtime halts business activities and can cost up to $200,000 per hour. IPMI monitors a server’s status and offers advanced warnings about potential system faults. When predetermined thresholds are surpassed, IPMI sends out an alarm. As a result, actionable intelligence is necessary. IPMI aids in the reduction of downtime.

Intelligent Recovery 

When system failures occur, IPMI recovers operations and gets them back on track. IPMI, unlike other server monitoring tools and software, is always available and helps with server recovery. In cases where the server is down, IPMI can assist with recovery.

Vendor-neutral Universal Support

Vendor-neutral IPMI does not require any proprietary hardware to function. Most hardware manufacturers include IPMI support, which reduces compatibility difficulties. IPMI’s server monitoring features are delivered in ecosystems with hardware from many vendors.

IPMI does not require the use of an agent to manage a server’s operating system. It allows you to make changes to settings like BIOS without having to log in or ask the server’s OS for permission.

IPMI Risks

Using IPMI has some risks and drawbacks. These drawbacks revolve around security and usability. User feedback has shown the following flaws:

Cybersecurity Challenges

IPMI communication protocols can sometimes leave vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber-attacks, and successful breaches are costly, as data indicate. The IPMI installation and configuration procedures might also expose a dedicated server to attack. IPMI version 2.0 included encryption and firmware firewall functionality in response to these security concerns.

Configuration Challenges

In cases when older network settings are distorted, configuring IPMI can be difficult. Clearing network configuration through a system’s BIOS is capable of solving configuration issues in situations like these.

Challenges of Updating

The installation of update patches might occasionally result in network failure. Switching ports on the motherboard can result in problems. In many cases, rebooting the system can resolve the problem that caused the network to go down.

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