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TIME TO UPDATE FIRMWARE: DELL LIFECYCLE CONTROLLER 2 VS.
HP INTELLIGENT PROVISIONING


A PRINCIPLED TECHNOLOGIES TEST REPORT
Commissioned by Dell Inc., October 2012



Efficiency in systems management is a fundamental requirement �}�(���š�}�����Ç�[�•�������š���������v�š���Œ�X��Automation

of necessary but repetitive management tasks for the system administrator saves time and frees resources

for more strategic tasks. If you are a system administrator, many solutions on the market let you perform

common system management functions, such as deploying firmware updates to your servers. However, the

embedded management solution you choose should allow you to better adhere to ever-decreasing

maintenance windows and reduce your scheduled downtime. How do you determine which embedded

server management solution offers the most effective automation? To answer this question, we analyzed

the abilities of two well-known embedded systems management subsystems: the Dell Lifecycle Controller on

Dell PowerEdge�¡ 12G servers and HP�[�• Intelligent Provisioning system found on the latest Gen 8 servers;

with special focus on administrator hands-on time savings, and improvement in platform uptimes.

Specifically, we compared the process of updating the storage controller firmware and the BIOS of

the Dell PowerEdge R720xd server using its Lifecycle Controller 2 user interface, to the same process on the

HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 server with HP Intelligent Provisioning. Our findings show that the embedded Dell

Lifecycle Controller 2 provided a dramatically faster process than that of the embedded HP Intelligent

Provisioning �t requiring up to 78 percent less hands-on time when applying firmware via the management

interface and performing the complete upgrade up to 2.5 times faster.

We designed the tests to reflect what an IT administrator would experience when using the

embedded management subsystem of each platform. We measure the times in seconds �t both hands-on

administrator task time requiring interaction from IT staff, and full machine wait time where the system is

rebooting or performing other tasks with no interaction. By more thoroughly automating the update

process, Dell servers and the Lifecycle Controller provided faster firmware update automation and reduced

administrative hands-on time in our testing, as compared to the HP embedded solution.



http://www.principledtechnologies.com/

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A Principled Technologies test report 2



Time to update firmware: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 vs. HP Intelligent
Provisioning

DELL LIFECYCLE CONTROLLER 2 SIMPLIFIES SYSTEM MANAGEMENT
The heart of Dell 12G automated systems management is the embedded

Lifecycle Controller 2, which works in conjunction with the iDRAC (Integrated Dell

Remote Access Controller) to receive instructions from management systems; serve as a

staging point for updates; and perform automated tasks as directed to create and

maintain healthy servers. The Lifecycle Controller 2 provides a user interface that allows

an administrator to leverage the power of the embedded controller without having to

utilize additional management tools. The LC user interface provides a connection to

�����o�o�[�•��Internet based firmware and software repository via FTP, eliminating the need for

removable media.

In our tests, we compared deployment of BIOS and storage controller firmware

updates to a Dell PowerEdge R720xd server using Lifecycle Controller 2 v1.0, and to an

�,�W���W�Œ�}�>�]���v�š�����>�ï�ô�ì�‰���'���v�ô���•���Œ�À���Œ���µ�•�]�v�P���,�W�[�•�����u���������������/�v�š���o�o�]�P���v�š���W�Œ�}�À�]�•�]�}�v�]�v�P 1.10.174.

�d�Z�����Œ���•�µ�o�š�•���•�Z�}�Á�����������o�o�[�•���]�u�‰�o���u���v�š���š�]�}�v���}�(��firmware updates via embedded

management substantially decreased the amount of hands-on administrator time and

wait time required to perform system updates.

Dell Lifecycle Controller 2: Updates applied 2.5 times faster, with 78 percent less hands-on time
than HP Intelligent Provisioning

Applying BIOS and storage controller firmware updates to a Dell PowerEdge

R720xd using Lifecycle Controller was 2.5 times faster overall and required 78 percent

less administrative hands-on time than applying BIOS and storage controller firmware

updates on an HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 using HP Intelligent Provisioning, as shown in

Figures 1 and 2. The ���(�(�]���]���v���]���•���]�v�������o�o�[�•���µ�•���Œ���]�v�š���Œ�(���������������}�µ�v�šed for a great deal of this

time. Below we discuss these efficiencies in detail.

Figure 1: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2
yielded faster results when updating
firmware than HP Intelligent
Provisioning.

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1,500

2,000

2,500

3,000

3,500

Dell HP

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Dell Lifecycle Controller vs HP Intelligent Provisioning Console -
BIOS and Storage Controller Firmware Updates

Wait
time

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on
time

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A Principled Technologies test report 5



Time to update firmware: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 vs. HP Intelligent
Provisioning

Console BIOS and Storage Controller Firmware Updates Hands-on time Wait time Total time

Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 Unified Server Configurator 179 685 864

HP Intelligent Provisioning 875 2,244 3,119

Figure 4: Hands-on and wait time to update firmware with the two management solutions. All times are in seconds.


WHAT WE TESTED

Our test configuration
Our test configuration for each solution consisted of two different servers: a

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 SP1 server for Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP, and the

server targeted for management.

We configured each target server for remote access using their dedicated

management interfaces �t iDRAC7 for the Dell PowerEdge R720xd and iLO4 for the HP

ProLiant DL380p Gen8.

About iDRAC7 and the Dell Lifecycle Controller
The iDRAC7 and the Dell Lifecycle Controller allow simplified management of

both local and remote servers. Embedded management features are built into the

server, and reduce reliance on external tools and media. The overall result of this

centralized management location is a reduction in steps, time, and potential errors, as

well as an increase in efficiency, when managing your servers.

To learn more about the Dell Lifecycle Controller, visit:

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/systems-management/w/wiki/lifecycle-

controller.aspx.

To learn more about iDRAC7, visit:

http://www.dell.com/us/enterprise/p/d/solutions/integrated-dell-remote-access-

controller-idrac

CONCLUSION
This paper focuses on �����o�o�[�•��embedded systems management component,

Lifecycle Controller 2 and its user interface. Leveraging the power of the Lifecycle

Controller 2 User Interface, Dell made server management simpler and faster via

automation in our test scenarios. In our tests, using Dell server embedded management

features saved time and required fewer steps when compared to using similar HP server

embedded management features. This approach can potentially offer an organization

dramatic savings in time, effort, and money over the server lifecycle.

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/systems-management/w/wiki/lifecycle-controller.aspx
http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/systems-management/w/wiki/lifecycle-controller.aspx
http://www.dell.com/us/enterprise/p/d/solutions/integrated-dell-remote-access-controller-idrac
http://www.dell.com/us/enterprise/p/d/solutions/integrated-dell-remote-access-controller-idrac

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A Principled Technologies test report 6



Time to update firmware: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 vs. HP Intelligent
Provisioning

APPENDIX A DETAILED TEST RESULTS
Firmware updates using Embedded Management

Our target server for performing Dell server firmware updates using Dell

Lifecycle Controller was a Dell PowerEdge R720xd containing two 147GB hard drives

configured as a RAID 1 array, 64 GB of RAM, and two Intel Xeon E5-2660 processors. The

iDRAC7 was licensed with an Enterprise license, configured to use its own dedicated

interface, and assigned a static IP address. The Lifecycle Controller utilized LOM1 for

network access, and assigned a static IP address. Both addresses resided on a private

network dedicated to Dell testing, with Internet access via a gateway.

Our target server for performing HP server firmware updates using Intelligent

Provisioning was an HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8, containing two 146GB hard drives

configured as a RAID 1 array, 64 GB of RAM, and two Intel Xeon E5-2680 processors. The

iLO 4 was licensed with an ILO 4 Advanced license, and assigned a static IP address. The

address resided on a private network dedicated to HP testing, with Internet access via a

gateway.

For both target servers, we accepted firmware versions available to the

embedded management systems as of September 4, 2012.

Dell firmware updates using Lifecycle Controller UI
8 steps (20 min, 26 sec)

HP firmware updates with Intelligent Provisioning
18 steps (51 min, 59 sec)

1. Boot the server.
2. Press F10 to enter Lifecycle controller.
3. Select Platform Update.
4. Select the link for Launch Platform Update.
5. Select the location for repository (ftp.dell.com) and

click Next.

6. Configure Access settings:
a. Leave username and password blank.
b. Under Proxy Settings, clear the checkbox for

Enable settings and click Next.

7. Select the firmware to update by checking the
boxes beside BIOS and Storage Controller, and

press Apply. The system begins component updates

and performs a reboot between each update. The

system launches into Lifecycle Controller and

verifies each updated component.

8. Exit Lifecycle Controller by pressing ESC on
keyboard, confirm exit, and reboot.



1. Boot the server.
2. Press F10 to enter Intelligent Provisioning.
3. Select Perform Maintenance.
4. Select the icon for Firmware Update. Intelligent

Provisioning displays the following messages: “Looking

for updates, this might take a few minutes” and

“Checking hardware, this may take a bit longer.”

5. Select the firmware to update by checking the boxes
for BIOS and Storage controller and click Install.

6. Review the changes, and click Continue.
7. Intelligent Provisioning displays a warning: “The

operation you are about to perform CAN NOT be

cancelled once started…” Click Continue.

8. Firmware updates begin. Upon completion, click
Continue.

9. The Firmware update main screen appears with a
message at the top of the screen: “You must reboot for

the latest firmware information to be reflected here.”

Intelligent Provisioning re-launches the discovery

process and displays the following notifications:

ftp://ftp.dell.com/

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A Principled Technologies test report 10



Time to update firmware: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 vs. HP Intelligent
Provisioning

System Dell PowerEdge R720xd HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8

Rank Dual Single

Graphics

Vendor and model number Matrox G200eR2 Matrox G200

Graphics memory (MB) 16 16

Driver N/A N/A

RAID controller

Vendor and model number PERC H710P Mini HP Smart Array P420i

Firmware version 21.0.2-0001 2.14

Cache size 1 GB 0 MB

RAID configuration RAID 1 RAID 1

Hard drives

Vendor and model number Dell HUC151414CSS600 HP EH0146FBQDC

Number of drives 2 2

Size (GB) 147 146

Buffer size (MB) 64 64

RPM 15000 15000

Type SAS SAS

Ethernet adapters

Vendor and model number Intel(R) Gigabit 4P I350-t rNDC HP Ethernet 1Gb 4-port 331FLR

Type Integrated Integrated

Driver N/A N/A

Optical drive(s)

Vendor and model number N/A HP DS8D3SH

Type N/A DVD

USB ports

Number 3 external, 1 internal 4 external, 1 internal

Type 2.0 2.0

Firmware Versions

BIOS 2.1.6 (P70) 2012.2.25

Storage Controller 21.0.2-0001 2.14

Figure 5: System configuration information for the test servers.

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A Principled Technologies test report 11



Time to update firmware: Dell Lifecycle Controller 2 vs. HP Intelligent
Provisioning

ABOUT PRINCIPLED TECHNOLOGIES



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led eTesting Labs, and after the acquisition of that company by Lionbridge
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