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Old January 12th, 2013, 06:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Email SMTP server advice needed

So, I have an IBM x3500 M3 server running in my house (yes, overkill but I got it free). This server has a hardware management system with an Ethernet port that runs independently of the OS (IBM RSA-II). I can access this management system even if the server is powered down. I can use it to check the status of hardware, power the server off/on remotely, schedule power ons and do other nifty things.

One really neat thing is it can send an email to me if there's a problem, or if I just want status updates on a schedule I set up. Now here's the problem: it uses an SMTP server address to send the email, but it does NOT support authentication. I tried using Google's SMTP server, but those are not open and require a username and password. So that won't work. I searched the interwebs for free & open SMTP mails servers and did turn up with much. I could just setup a simple SMTP server on the server itself, but that won't help me if the server is down and the RSA-II is needing to send the report.

I'm about to toss 5 2TB hard drives in a RAID-5 in this server and the RSA-II will monitor the status of the drives and alert me if the array drops into a degraded status, so I want this to work.

Any idears?

Thanks in advance.

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Old January 12th, 2013, 06:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you thought of setting up the monitoring on another computer on your network (particularly the SMTP server)? That may do better in being able to notify you if there's a problem.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 07:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by palmtree5 View Post
Have you thought of setting up the monitoring on another computer on your network (particularly the SMTP server)? That may do better in being able to notify you if there's a problem.
I apologize but, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Can you elaborate?

Also, to add to my first post, the RSA-II also has the option to send alerts via SNMP server and 'IBM Director" but I don't have experience with either of those.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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To be honest, I don't really have experience with network administration. I was just thinking out loud. I was thinking maybe another computer on the network could somehow keep tabs on the status of the server and it send the email notification if there's a problem. Maybe I'm just mixed up though
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Old January 13th, 2013, 08:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Oh, ok. I get what you're saying now. It might work, but the problem there is neither of my other two computers are on all the time.

I'm thinking of setting up a local SMTP server on the server in question. The only issue I'd have with that is if the server is down for some reason. The RSA-II will still be up and trying to send out alerts, but the server's OS wont be booted so the SMTP server will be down.

This server is also my router, so typically I'll know pretty quickly if something is awry with it as I wont be able to access the intertoobs on my other PCs.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Out of band (OOB) management is a nice thing to have, but I don't know why most OOB hardware only supports SMTP for sending alerts. Most SMTP software relies on a DNS MX record which means that to make it work, you'll need your own internal name server and MTA running just to get your RSA-II to be useful. Maybe they make it so hard to sell more of their proprietary management software (like IBM Systems Director).

As palmtree5 suggested, the most straightforward thing to do is to use an old PC to run SMTP and DNS on Linux. But configuring these isn't a trivial task, so if you're not an accomplished systems administrator, it might be more trouble for you than you'll want to endure.

Another option is to get it all as a service that most domain registrars and business ISPs offer. My domain's SMTP server allows no-authentication logins, but it's a big security risk. If a spammer finds your open SMTP server on the Internet, you're in for lots of headaches!

Sorry, but neither option is a quick fix.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you, sir. Always knowledgeable, Mr. Speed Daemon!

It looks like the best option for me is to just remember to login and check the logs of the RSA-II every week or so to see how things are going. Mostly I just want a heads up on the status of the RAID array that I don't yet have (gotta buy the drives).
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:22 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Sometimes the best automation is no automation. When I worked in IT, one of my big worries was "what happens if the automatic warning system fails to warn me?" If you get into the habit of checking the RAID array yourself on a regular basis, you'll be certain that you're the first to know if anything does go wrong.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 03:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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When I was doing network support a few years ago, thre was an automatic failyre warning set up for the servers I was supporting, but it NEVER worked reliably. Over the wekend I'd log on remotely via a corporate VPN just to scheck the status. If/when there was aproblem, I'd have to go in to fix it on site (just corporate policy). So yes, the best automation is often no automation.
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