hpe – Recommendations on building an “Admin” server

I manage or oversee about 500 physical and virtual hosts for a development/pre-prod lab. I own about 100-200 of these, but the other assets are provided to 3rd party contractors who generally do not perform admin duties (e.g. installing asset tracking software, upgrade ILO firmware, etc). I use about 2-3 machines to perform Admin functions for the lab, but there are OS / software issues that are complicating my life.

I am looking to build a centralized “Admin” server(s) to make my life easier. The lab contains physical servers that are HPE Proliant DL360/380 G6, G7, G8 rack mount servers and BL460c G6, G7, and G8 blade servers. There are a few C7000 blade chassis. I have a spare HPE DL360 G8 that I intend to use as my main “Admin” server.

I plan to install Windows Sever 2016, which is the latest supported OS on G8 hardware. I would like to use this server for the following:

  • Internet Explorer access to ILO on lab systems.
  • Install VSphere versions to access ESXi hosts
  • Potentially install a VCenter to centralize access to VMs. I’ll need to ask my company about acquiring licenses.
  • Install OpenOffice to modify Visio diagrams for free.
  • Potentially install management software to oversee the HPE systems (get hardware status). I’m aware of HPE OneView, but I’m sure my company won’t pay for the licensing. If anyone knows of any alternatives, I’m all for it.
  • Maybe a web server for ILO installs via ILO CLI when I cannot upgrade ILO via web browser or through OS package. Web server could move to Linux VM, dunno.

This will be Windows 2008 Server. I need an old Windows system to access older HPE ILOs that still require Adobe Flash. For example, some servers don’t have upgraded ILO (like still running ILO 2 v1.80 — yeah, that’s real bad). Another example is the VCFlex10 cards on some C7000 chassis can upgrade up to version 4.75 and not any higher. Version 4.75 still requires Flash. Modern browsers have now removed Flash or any ability to install it. Worse yet, the Adobe Flash certificates for ILO have expired in Jan 2021, so you have to set your clock before 2021 to access your system. I can set the clock back on this system without affecting the main system.

Linux System. We have a VM that installs asset management software from Linux. I’ll just transfer that to here.

Packet analyzer machine. This is currently on physical G5 hardware and rarely used — better to make it into a VM.

So you’ve made it this far. I was debating with myself if I want to use Windows 2016 with HyperV to set this up, or use ESXi as the host system and have everything as VMs and maybe use Windows 2019 as an ESXi VM as the main system. However, I am leaning toward using Windows 2016 as the main system b/c the system would mainly boot into Windows Server, thereby allowing the VCenter and web servers services to start automatically.

Any other recommendations on free software to help manage servers?