Dell Remote Access Controller

The Dell Remote Access Controller or DRAC is an interface card by Dell which provides out-of-band management. The controller has its own processor, memory, battery, network connection, and access to the system bus. Key features include power management, virtual media access and remote console, all available through a supported web browser. This gives system administrators the ability to configure a machine as if they were sitting at the local console (terminal).

Power Management

With the DRAC enabled and by having its own separate network connection a user may login and reboot the system even if the core operating system has crashed. If the correct drivers are loaded onto the Operating system the DRAC will attempt to shutdown the system gracefully. Without this feature and with the system running, the remote console can be used to access the operating system to shut it down.

Remote Console

The remote console features of the DRAC let you interface with the computer as if you were sitting in front of it, and indeed you even share the local inputs from keyboard and mouse as well as video output (sound is not supported remotely). This is accomplished through an Active X or Java plugin (depending on the model) which gives you a window displaying the video of the local terminal and takes mouse and keyboard input. This behavior is almost identical to other remote access solutions such as VNC or RDP. In fact, the DRAC uses the VNC protocol.

Virtual Media

The DRAC enables you to mount remotely shared disk images as if they were connected to the system. When this is combined with the remote console you have the ability to completely re-install an operating system, a task which had traditionally required local console access to the physical machine. Virtual media can be controlled through the browser or through the OpenManage tools provided by Dell.

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