Admin Alert: Remotely Accessing an HMC System Console, Part 1
October 3, 2007 Joe Hertvik
The problem with i5/OS system consoles is that they are usually locked away in secured areas, and the only way that most people can use them is to go to the computer room. This week and next, I’ll demonstrate a technique for using a remote 5250 session to access a system console on the Hardware Management Console (HMC) without leaving your desk.
Why Do I Need to Remotely Access My System Console?
Most System i and iSeries administrators don’t mind walking to the computer room to use the system console if the console is in the same building, preferably on the same floor and not too far away from the coffee machine. The problem gets more difficult when your console resides in another building or in another city. My own search for remote access to our HMC system consoles started when we were co-locating an i550 system to another location, and our staff across town needed to access the console for system backups and to configure and test the machine while it was in restricted mode. But the need for remote access doesn’t need to be that obvious. You might also want to configure remote access so that your operators or consultants don’t have to go into the computer room and stand under a blowing air conditioning vent for hours at a time while they do their work.
Whatever the reason for remote system console access, I recently discovered that configuring an HMC system console for remote access is a fairly easy affair. It consists of two configurations. The first configuration checks and readies your HMC so that it can be accessed over a network (steps 1 and 2 below), and the second configuration sets up your Windows PC to access an HMC system console through an iSeries Access for Windows PC5250 emulator (step 3). This week, I’ll cover the HMC configuration piece and next week I’ll discuss setting up your PC for Remote 5250 console access.
Based on my experience, here’s what you need to do to set up and connect to an HMC partition’s system console by using an approved 5250 emulator.
Here’s how to configure your HMC so that you can easily connect to and use the system console from any location on your network (steps 1 and 2).
Shaking Down Your HMC
The first step is to ensure that your HMC can communicate over the network. An HMC is basically a Linux PC that has one or more Ethernet ports on the back of the box. The first port is always identified as eth0 and that port is used to connect your HMC box to the managed System i server that it controls. If you’re not sure how to identify eth0, check out IBM’s Information Center entry on the subject. Once you’ve identified where eth0 is, your next job is to leave it alone and look instead for port eth1.
IBM generally delivers its Hardware Management Console PCs with an additional network card that the system identifies as port eth1. Once configured on the network, eth1 can be configured to use the Web-based System Manager (WebSM) or to connect to one of the HMC system consoles on your network through a 5250 session using iSeries Access for Windows. I’ll cover WebSM (which allows you to run your HMC interface through a Web browser) in a future article. This week, I’ll concentrate on bringing up a system console on an HMC partition through the HMC’s Remote 5250 Console feature.
You need to check and possibly configure the following items to make sure that the HMC will allow you to start a 5250 session for remotely accessing its system consoles.
Here’s how to perform each of these steps in detail.
Physical Cabling From the HMC To the Network
The first step is to make sure that the HMC is physically cabled to the network, so that it can talk to your network infrastructure. You can do this by looking behind the HMC box and noting whether there are one or two Ethernet cables plugged into the back of the PC. If there are two cables, the cables are probably plugged into side-by-side Ethernet ports on the back of the HMC (eth0 and eth1). For a two cable setup, one cable is being used to connect the eth0 Ethernet port to your System i through the managed server’s Flexible Service Processor (FSP), and the second cable is probably being used to attach your PC to the network via the eth1 Ethernet port. If there is only one cable on the back of your box, it is only being used to connect the HMC to the System i FSP, and you will need to attach a second Ethernet cable from the eth1 port to a LAN switch or network hub residing on your network. This will complete the physical configuration to allow remote users to attach to your HMC over a network.
Configuring eth1 for IP Communication
Once you are sure that the HMC is cabled to the network through eth1, the next step is to make sure that the port is configured with an IP address and that systems on the network can communicate with the port. To check your Ethernet card configuration and change it if necessary, go to the HMC Console and open the HMC Management→ HMC Configuration node for your configuration. The HMC Configuration menu will appear in the right-hand pane of the HMC screen. Choose the Customize Network Settings menu option, and the Customize Network Settings window will appear. Perform the following actions from that window:
Configure Your Partitions To Connect Using the 5250 Console
The final step in preparing your HMC to allow remote 5250 access to the remote console is to perform one simple configuration for each partition where your users will be connecting remotely to the partition’s system console. For each partition, go to the main HMC console screen and expand the Server and Partition→Server Management node. In the right-hand contents pane, open the Partitions folder and right-click on any partition that you want to provide remote 5250 access to its system console. Select Properties from the pop-up menu that appears and click on the Tagged I/O tab on the Properties screen that appears. On the Tagged I/O screen, check the Use HMC console check box and click OK to save the change. Repeat this procedure for any other partitions that you want to provide remote 5250 access to the partition’s system console.
If you added an IP address to your eth1 adapter, you can exit and reboot the target Hardware Management Console. At this point, your HMC is ready to accept 5250 sessions for system console access. Next week, I’ll discuss how to set up your iSeries Access for Windows PC to connect to and run a system console that resides on the HMC.