Systems and network management aggregator Cyclades has added IPMI, the Intelligent Platform Management Interface, to the list of to the list of protocols supported by its Alterpath control centre. It means Alterpath can now remotely monitor and manage servers with built-in IPMI controllers, as well as devices connected via Cyclades console servers and KVM or KVM-over-IP switches.

The Cyclades approach is a complete out-of-band management scheme for a network and systems infrastructure. It combines connectivity hardware with a separate network (so it can help fix the LAN if it goes down) and management tools to collate and aggregate system logs and diagnostic data.

"You need to integrate all those technologies and consider them together," says Charlie Waters, Cyclades global marketing VP. "It's not just servers, it's also secure out-of-band paths to network infrastructure and storage management."

The only potential snag is that Alterpath means buying into a complete management hardware infrastructure, says Quocirca principal analyst Jon Collins. "Cyclades will carry on supporting all the proprietary interfaces, so it's inevitable they'd want to support IPMI as well, but so will everyone else," he says. "While I can see the benefits of Cyclades stuff, there's nothing in their pitch that makes me want to rip out everything I have."

However, Waters argues that there are advantages in his approach: "The server vendors ship IPMI software but a lot of it doesn't scale," he says. "Also it lacks key features like logging and integration with enterprise authentication."

He adds that the upcoming version 2 of IPMI will be especially important for managing blade servers and 1U servers. "It should make it cheaper and simpler to add those for management. You won't need console switches, KVMs or power-control boxes, just an Alterpath manager capable of running 5000 servers and maintaining 248 sessions."