What Is OpenBMC, and How Does It Improve Firmware Management?

05/04/2022 | Featured Content, Technology Education

As the years go by, your company makes incremental upgrades to its hardware infrastructure. What starts as a uniform system changes over time, and you end up integrating parts and components from different manufacturers. This change may be due to hardware availability, budget, and technology requirements.

Variety in your hardware components creates management challenges. Different brands have different management interfaces and features. Even hardware within the same brand varies by generation, and closed BMC (baseboard management controller) firmware forces users to manage systems separately. OpenBMC was created to address this problem.

OpenBMC Standardizes System Management

First, it’s important to understand what a baseboard management controller does. A BMC is a system on a chip (SoC) device that uses sensors to monitor the computer or server state and communicates with the system administrator. It’s crucial for taking quick action when temperature, communication, and operating system functions fall out of line.

Since the software that a BMC runs on is closed, OpenBMC was created as an open-source alternative that can be modified to the user’s needs. Companies are therefore able to leverage several benefits, including:

  • Enhanced security. Security is a critical part of the tech stack. However, this consideration can often take a back seat during the manufacturing and support processes. OpenBMC gives you control of mission-critical firmware and allows you to keep your system updated and secure.
  • Standardized management. Working with hardware from different manufacturers creates gaps in feature sets and management abilities. OpenBMC allows you to create a unified way of managing device-agnostic hardware — simplifying management and reducing costs.
  • Customizable features. Closed BMC solutions are locked, and you’re stuck with what comes in the box. OpenBMC allows you to customize features. For example, you may want to add an embedded LCD screen to facilitate administration. OpenBMC allows that.

As OpenBMC matures, more manufacturers are building hardware with the enablers to support the firmware. Normalization of your hardware firmware is becoming more attainable every day.

On the Frontier of OpenBMC Implementation

Open software benefits from a community-driven approach where your team isn’t solely responsible for discovering and fixing bugs. This approach often leads to robust software that’s very secure. Additionally, you can benefit from updates and added features that are actively worked on worldwide.

Equus has been working with OpenBMC since 2018 and understands the benefits and challenges of implementation. We’ve seen how this technology puts white-box hardware on par or above tier 1 hardware solutions. If you want to improve security, standardize firmware, or customize your hardware at a deeper level, OpenBMC may be for you.

Talk to our team if you want to explore OpenBMC in your business. We’ll help you determine if the value is worth the investment and the approach you’ll need to take to manage your OpenBMC implementation. Contact us to learn more.