Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (2023)

A Principled Technologies report: Hands-on testing. Real-world results.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (1)

In our hands-on tests, the OpenManage Enterprise with OMEVV solution took less time and fewer steps than VMware vSphere Auto Deploy for Stateful Installation of ESXi to a bare-metal server host

Expanding your organization’s data center with new servers typically means that admins must devote time to configuring and deploying them. Being able to harness tools that streamline and automate these processes reduces the burden on IT staff and gets the new gear into action sooner.

We compared the process of deploying and configuring ESXi on Dell servers in a VMware®-based PowerEdge environment using two tools: Dell OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter® (OMEVV) 1.1.0.1250 and VMware vSphere® Auto Deploy for Stateful Installation (VMware vSphere Auto Deploy).

We found that the administrative time for one-time setup and configuration was up to 93 percent less for OMEVV and that deploying bare-metal server hosts after the one-time setup and configuration was up to 74 percent less. OMEVV greatly streamlined these activities, reducing the number of required steps by as much as 83 percent for setup and configuration, and by up to 34 percent for bare-metal host deployment.

By decreasing the amount of time and number of steps necessary to put new hosts into service, using OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter can free your admins to perform other activities.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (2)

How we approached testing

We set up three Dell PowerEdge servers to capture the amount of time and number of steps required to provision Dell servers with ESXi software in a vCenter environment using two different automatic deployment solutions:

  • OpenManage Enterprise with OMEVV leveraging agent-free iDRAC
  • vSphere Auto Deploy for Stateful Installation using PXE boot

We also explored the features the two solutions offer and noted several advantages that OpenManage Enterprise with OMEVV offers over vSphere Auto Deploy for Stateful Installation.

About the OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter

The latest release of OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) utilizes OpenManage Enterprise data in the vCenter administration portal. The integration can improve vCenter monitoring and management in a VMware software-based PowerEdge environment by offering the following:1

  • Hardware information and alerts pulled into vCenter with controls for notifications
  • iDRAC address and service tag details
  • Dell warranty information
  • Deep-level detail on certified Dell hardware components, including memory and local drives
  • Support for both vLCM and VMware Active HA

As we found in previous testing,2 OMEVV automates server firmware updating. The update runs sequentially on each host in a cluster by putting the host into maintenance mode, executing the update task, and returning each host from maintenance mode one by one. This cluster method in conjunction with VMware DRS allows the workload to remain up and running. For more information, please visit https://www.principledtechnologies.com/clients/reports/Dell/OpenManage-Integration-for-VMware-vCenter-1122.pdf

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (3)

What we found: The numbers

In this section, we focus on the quantitative advantages of Dell OMEVV over VMware vSphere Auto Deploy for configuration and deployment: less time and fewer steps required to complete tasks.

One-time setup and configuration

In the first phase of testing, we investigated the time requirements and complexity of performing one-time setup and configuration with the two solutions. Before we dive into our detailed findings, let’s look at a high-level overview of what the two processes involve. As Figure 1 illustrates, the Dell OMEVV process consisted of only two phases. In contrast, the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process consisted of six phases (see Figure 2).

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (4)
Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (5)

Having more phases does not necessarily equate to requiring more time and steps, but in our testing, it did. As Figure 3 shows, using Dell OMEVV to perform one-time setup and configuration was indeed more streamlined than the process with VMware vSphere Auto Deploy, with the process taking fewer than one-sixth the number of steps. It required less admin time, requiring just over 2 minutes versus nearly half an hour.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (6)

Table 1 breaks down the time and steps for each of the two phases of the Dell OMEVV process. As it shows, both were quick for our technician to execute.

Table 1: Time and steps required to perform each phase of the one-time setup and configuration of servers using Dell OMEVV. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
Dell OMEVV Time (min:sec) Steps
Installing OMEVV 1:19 11
Creating ISO profile 0:42 5
Total one-time setup 02:01 16

Table 2 breaks down the time and steps for each of the six phases of the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process. While most of these took our technician a minute or less to execute, setting up and configuring the TFTP server and deploying the reference server took significantly longer.

Table 2: Time and steps required to perform each phase of the one-time setup and configuration of servers using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
VMware vSphere Auto Deploy Time (min:sec) Steps
Enabling vCenter Auto Deploy 0:40 3
Creating Software Depot 00:42 2
Setting up and configuring TFTP server 13:13 37
Configuring DHCP options 01:23 9
Deploying reference server 12:38 25
Creating host profile from reference server 00:55 21
Total one-time setup 29:31 97

Deploying hosts

In the second phase of our testing, we investigated the time requirements and complexity of deploying one, two, and three hosts using the two solutions. As we did earlier, let’s start with a high-level overview of what the two processes involve. As Figure 4 illustrates, the Dell OMEVV process of deploying a host consisted of three phases: discovering the servers in OME, discovering those hosts as bare-metal servers in OMEVV within vCenter, and creating a deployment job. In contrast, the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process consisted of five phases (see Figure 5).

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (7)
Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (8)
Time and steps to deploy a single host

As Figure 6 shows, using Dell OMEVV to deploy one host was more streamlined than performing the same task using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy, with the process taking fewer steps. Deployment with OMEVV took 2.5 minutes of admin time compared to more than 8 minutes of admin time for vSphere Auto Deploy.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (9)

Table 3 provides of breakdown of the time and steps each phase of the Dell OMEVV process required.

Table 3: Time and steps required to perform the three phases involved with deploying one host using Dell OMEVV. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
Dell OMEVV Time (min:sec) Steps
Discovering servers in OME 00:17 8
Discovering bare-metal servers 00:29 8
Creating deployment job 01:44 9
Total 02:30 25

In contrast to the Dell OMEVV process, the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process was more complex, with five distinct phases. Four of these took our technician 45 seconds or less to execute, but booting the server through deployment took more than 6 minutes (see Table 4).

Table 4: Time and steps required to perform the five phases involved with deploying one host using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
VMware vSphere Auto Deploy Time (min:sec) Steps
Creating new rule 00:45 8
Activating rule 00:12 6
Booting server through deployment 06:27 4
Customizing host 00:34 6
Performing host remediation against profile 00:08 6
Total 08:06 30
Time and steps to deploy two hosts

As Figure 7 shows, using Dell OMEVV to deploy two hosts took the same number of steps as deploying one with only 4 additional seconds. In contrast, the process with VMware vSphere Auto Deploy needed four additional steps and 53 additional seconds.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (10)

Table 5 provides of breakdown of the time and steps each phase of the Dell OMEVV process required.

Table 5: Time and steps required to perform the three phases involved with deploying two hosts using Dell OMEVV. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
Dell OMEVV Time (min:sec) Steps
Discovering servers in OME 00:17 8
Discovering bare-metal servers 00:29 8
Creating deployment job 01:48 9
Total 02:34 25

Table 6 breaks down the time and steps for each of the five phases of the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process for deploying two hosts. Four of these took our technician 53 seconds or less to execute, but booting the server through deployment took almost 7 minutes.

Table 6: Time and steps required to perform the five phases involved with deploying two hosts using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
VMware vSphere Auto Deploy Time (min:sec) Steps
Creating new rule 00:53 8
Activating rule 00:12 6
Booting server through deployment 06:59 8
Customizing host 00:47 6
Performing host remediation against profile 00:08 6
Total 08:59 34
Time and steps to deploy three hosts

As Figure 8 shows, using Dell OMEVV to deploy three hosts took the same number of steps as deploying a single host and only 6 additional seconds. In contrast, the process with VMware vSphere Auto Deploy required eight additional steps and an extra 2 minutes and 11 seconds.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (11)

Table 7 provides of breakdown of the time and steps each phase of the Dell OMEVV process required.

Table 7: Time and steps required to perform the three phases involved with deploying three hosts using Dell OMEVV. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
Dell OMEVV Time (min:sec) Steps
Discovering servers in OME 00:17 8
Discovering bare-metal servers 00:29 8
Creating deployment job 01:50 9
Total 02:36 25

With three hosts, four of the five phases of the VMware vSphere Auto Deploy process took our technician 1 minute and 19 seconds or less to execute. However, booting the server through deployment took 7 minutes and 40 seconds (see Table 8).

Table 8: Time and steps required to perform the five phases involved with deploying three hosts using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy. Fewer steps and less time are better. Source: Principled Technologies.
VMware vSphere Auto Deploy Time (min:sec) Steps
Creating new rule 00:58 8
Activating rule 00:12 6
Booting server through deployment 07:40 12
Customizing host 01:19 6
Performing host remediation against profile 00:08 6
Total 10:17 38

As our findings in this section show, the amount of time that administrators save by selecting the Dell solution increased as the number of deployed servers increased. Because the time savings as we added servers was not linear, we can’t reliably extrapolate the savings organizations would see with larger deployments. However, when deploying a large VMware vSphere ESXi cluster of 32 or more servers, the time savings would be even more substantial than what we have shown here.

What we found: The experience

In this section, we present some of the qualitative advantages of Dell OMEVV over VMware vSphere Auto Deploy for configuration and deployment.

Some advantages of Dell OMEVV

  • Our team found OMEVV substantially easier to use than vSphere Auto Deploy and found that its documentation covers all of the use cases we tested.
  • By reducing complexity, job deployment in OMEVV reduces the likelihood of error. Using vSphere Auto Deploy, it is possible to miss steps when navigating among Profiles, Auto Deploy, Rules, Inventory, and back to Profiles to remediate after the first deployment pass completes.
  • OMEVV operates within a single GUI. The user stays within the OMEVV plugin area to complete tasks such as selecting target servers, creating an ISO profile, and creating a deployment job. To create a deployment job, the user stays in a single-pane Deployment Wizard, which functions as a guided tutorial (see Figure 9). In contrast, vSphere Auto Deploy requires the user to move among a variety of different screens and locations.
Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (12)
  • Even if an existing OS is present on the server boot volume, OMEVV can perform an installation without intervention by leveraging the Lifecycle Controller; in contrast, using VMware guidance for setting PXE as the secondary boot method, reinstalling using vSphere Auto Deploy requires manual intervention to invoke the boot menu and users must manually select the PXE option for boot.
  • OMEVV assigns static IPs before installation; vSphere Auto Deploy does this after installation. In a real-world setting, the vSphere Auto Deploy approach wastes time. Admins must wait, turning the install time into active administration time where the admin is unable to work on other tasks or jobs because another step is waiting for them at the end.
  • OMEVV offers additional features beyond deployment that vSphere Auto Deploy does not (see the section "About the OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter"). Once you have added servers using OMEVV, they benefit from OME. For example, OME offers development of firmware setting and support for call-home service, detailed reports, and other plugins.

Some disadvantages of vSphere Auto Deploy

  • vSphere Auto Deploy requires PXE boot, which has networking considerations that users must accommodate.
  • vSphere Auto Deploy requires a TFTP server, which is a potential disadvantage because their lack of authentication and encryption makes these servers less secure and more prone to attacks.
  • In vSphere Auto Deploy, users can only import or extract host profiles and cannot build them from scratch. This limitation means users must have a template server, which adds steps.
  • In vSphere Auto Deploy, Server Initial Config is more specific, whereas in OMEVV Server Initial Config only ensures that defaults are enabled. It is possible to work with Dell so that servers come pre-configured and ready to go for OME/OMEVV on the day they arrive; the admin needs only to power them on, discover them in OME, and run a deployment job.
  • To use rules that target specific servers in vSphere Auto Deploy, the user must know certain information about the servers ahead of time, such as IP addresses, serial numbers, or drive and driver types for targeted installation. OMEVV does not require this.

Conclusion

Deploying servers can be a time-consuming task but it doesn’t have to be. In a VMware-based Dell PowerEdge environment, we found that using Dell OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter to configure and deploy bare-metal server hosts greatly reduced the administrative burden in terms of time and complexity compared to using VMware vSphere Auto Deploy. In addition, by letting our technician perform these tasks in up to 74 percent less administrative time and with 34 percent fewer steps, Dell OMEVV is the clear winner in efficiency and complexity, all from a single console with the added benefit of introducing customers to the host of other OME features.

To streamline your deployment of new ESXi servers and optimize your administrator’s time, choose Dell OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (13)

  1. Dell, “OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter,” accessed April 14, 2023, https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/000176981/openmanage-integration-for-vmware-vcenter.
  2. Principled Technologies, “Implement cluster-aware firmware updates to save time and effort,” accessed April 18, 2023, https://www.principledtechnologies.com/clients/reports/Dell/OpenManage-Integration-for-VMware-vCenter-1122.pdf.

This project was commissioned by Dell Technologies.

May 2023

Principled Technologies is a registered trademark of Principled Technologies, Inc.

All other product names are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (14)

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Streamline server deployment and configuration: Dell OpenManage Enterprise with OpenManage Enterprise Integration for VMware vCenter (OMEVV) (16)

Principled Technologies is a registered trademark of Principled Technologies, Inc.
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DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES; LIMITATION OF LIABILITY:
Principled Technologies, Inc. has made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy and validity of its testing, however, Principled Technologies, Inc. specifically disclaims any warranty, expressed or implied, relating to the test results and analysis, their accuracy, completeness or quality, including any implied warranty of fitness for any particular purpose. All persons or entities relying on the results of any testing do so at their own risk, and agree that Principled Technologies, Inc., its employees and its subcontractors shall have no liability whatsoever from any claim of loss or damage on account of any alleged error or defect in any testing procedure or result.

In no event shall Principled Technologies, Inc. be liable for indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages in connection with its testing, even if advised of the possibility of such damages. In no event shall Principled Technologies, Inc.’s liability, including for direct damages, exceed the amounts paid in connection with Principled Technologies, Inc.’s testing. Customer’s sole and exclusive remedies are as set forth herein.

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