Security is Built In To iDRAC

DSA was privileged to meet with and interview a friendly face for Dell recently, in the form of Mr Enrico Bracalente. An Italian who is living in the US but has evidently not lost any of his accent as this writer picked up early on.

Enrico joined Dell Inc. in 2006 and is Director of Product Management in the Dell EMC Infrastructure Solutions Group, leading a team in charge of various systems management solutions ranging from OpenManage tools to integrations with major software vendors’ consoles. He has also held head roles within a number of high-tech companies including Texas Instruments, Micron Technology, and BMC Software. His career began in Europe and evolved into global responsibilities across R&D, Product Management, Product Marketing, Strategic Planning, Business Development, and Alliance Management. Enrico earned his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston, Texas, USA.

Enrico, who joined Dell after being in both software and hardware backgrounds, said the server now manages the full lifecycle.

“So the lifecycle of the server is under the control of the system management. Good news is lately we have been number one in the server business, not all in terms of units but (also) in terms of revenue,” he said, adding that they are very happy to be in that position.

He then goes on to share the Dell philosophy from inception to destruction and why it must be done this way.

“Server is the central technology that will enable from compute, to the network (and) to the storage. Basically, there are different vectors that we take into consideration. Today we will focus on security.”

The launch of the New PowerEdge 14th generation servers – the bedrock of the modern data centre – include performance gains to provide customers with a secure and optimised platform for every workload, with simplified management.

  • Scalable business architecture, optimised for software-defined data centre, delivers up to 12x database IOPs for accelerating cutting-edge applications

  • Intelligent automation speeds up administration up to 4x with iDRAC9 and 30% fewer steps to set up iDRAC with QuickSync 2

  • Integrated security capabilities offer cyber-resilient architecture and secure supply chain for end-to-end protection

The iDRAC or Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller is a controller that goes inside each server. This he assures, is to protect against the unlikely event that the OS goes down.

“So we created this iDRAC to be out of the band and out of the dependency of the OS. It’s working on its own with its own processor, its own OS, and it’s taking care of all of the administration of the server,” he clarified.
But with the constant security issues that have been hitting the industry, Dell has decided to deepen the level of security inside iDRAC. Making iDRAC the guard of the system.

Now if you make an update activity or monitoring activity, or even a maintenance activity, iDRAC will be at the centre of this.

“We have put more powerful capabilities inside iDRAC. The core of the security for us is that the security is built-in. It is not bolt-on. So when we build our hardware, we build with security in mind.”

From procurement to design and manufacturing, and everything that comes before and after, is looked into with a fine-tooth comb and made to fit. Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is left out of their scope. Even in shipment and stocking, the hardware and software are monitored and secured so no penetration is possible.

“For instance, iDRAC is capable of detecting if there’s a transportation breach. As soon as someone turns it on, it detects that something is up. So this will tell you it’s important for the whole chain, not just when someone is injecting some malicious problem, but even opening, even intrusion, is very important for us.”

Either by physically locking the chassis itself or recording all transactions and activity that takes place, Dell have shown great precedence in how they are approaching their security and how they are effectively making iDRAC operate.

“This seems like something so trivial, well no one has thought about that,” he said in jest while effectively stamping their claim to it being the first of its kind.

With Dell’s iDRAC at the core of security for their systems, could this approach to security detail be what is needed to combat cyber threats and finally put an end to such growing widespread attacks? One can only hope.

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