Remote administration is often a must when it comes to servers, and many features in this area offer manufacturers an opportunity to distinguish themselves from each other. At the moment, Sun has two distinct systems: ALOM and ILOM. Both of these allow a great deal of information about the hardware to be accessed as well as the option of sending out messages in case things (appear to) go wrong. Additionally, the Linux or Solaris console can be run, and as a last resort the system can be sent a remote instruction for a hard reset.
The difference between the two systems lies largely in the way these functions can be accessed: ALOM can only be run via telnet (insecure), SSH (secure), or a serial cable, and is therefore limited to the command line interface. ILOM, on the other hand, can also be accessed via an integrated HTTPS server, meaning that a user friendly graphical user interface is available that can be grasped with greater ease.
Unfortunately, only the X4200 (Opteron) comes with ILOM; the T2000 has to make do with ALOM for now. There is no way around this: the UltraSparc server lacks a monitor connection, and installing a new operating system (or completing the pre-installation of Solaris 10) requires working via another computer. Moreover, the network interface is switched off by default, compelling administrators to get to work with a serial cable at least once. Sun has indicated that this point will be improved. Installation of the X4200 posed no problems: this can be done in a straightforward fashion by using the monitor or the network interface, which is switched on by default in the Opteron.