Recently I had to upgrade our ESXi hosts from Update 2 to Update 3 due to security patch requirements. This requirement stretches across two separate physical environments, one running IBM blades and the other running on Cisco UCS blade chassis in a Flexpod configuration. The upgrade paths for both are slightly different, and they also run on different vCenter platforms. Both of these also have different upgrade paths as one is running VMware SRM and is in linked mode. I’m not going to discuss the IBM upgrades but I did need to upgrade the firmware of the Infrastructure and Servers for Cisco UCSM.
Before you being any upgrade process I highly recommend reading the release notes to make sure that a) an upgrade path exists from your current version, b) you become aware of any known issues in the new version and c) the features you want exist in the new version
UCS Upgrade Prep Work
Check the UCS Release Guides
Check the release notes to make sure all the components and modules are supported. The release notes for UCS Manager can be found on their site. The link is listed further below in the documents section.
Some of the things to check within the release notes are:
* Resolved Caveats
- UCS Version Upgrade patch
- UCS Infrastructure Hardware compatibility
- Minimum software version for UCS Blade servers
Open a Pre-Emptive Support Call
I opened a call with Cisco TAC to investigate the discrepancy in the firmware versions. The advice was to downgrade the B200 M4 server firmware down to 4.0 (1). However, as I was planning on upgrading anyway I’ve now confirmed that the best option is to upgrade to the planned 3.1 version. As part of this upgrade I will also upgrade all the ESXi hosts on that site the same day. There is a second UCS domain on another site that will be upgraded on another date.
During a recent Cisco UCS upgrade I noticed an error for ethlanflowmon which was a critical alert. I hadn’t seen the problem before and it occurred right after I had upgraded UCS Manager firmware as per the steps listed in a previous post I wrote about UCS Firmware Upgrade. Before proceeding to upgrade the Fabric Interconnects I wanted to clear all alerts where possible. The alert for “FSM:FAILED: Ethernet traffic flow monitoring configuration error on” both switches was a cause for concern.
On further investigation I found that this is a known bug when upgrading to versions 2.2(2) and above. I was upgrading from version 2.2(1d) to 2.2(3d). Despite being a critical alert the issue does not impact any services. The new UCSM software is looking for new features on the FI that do not exist yet as it has not been upgraded. As soon as you upgrade the FIs this critical alert will go. More information about the bug can be found Cisco’s support page for the bug CSCul11595
A recent comment highlighted that i was missing a step during Step 8: UPGRADE THE FABRIC INTERCONNECTS AND I/O MODULES. This was to manually change the primary status for the Fabric Interconnects to be the recently upgraded Fabric Interconnect. This way your environment remains accessible while the second FI is being upgraded. I’ve updated this step now to include the manual failover steps on the FI. It is a step I always follow when performing upgrades but I can’t think of why I didn’t originally put it into the post.
Recently I was tasked with performing an upgrade to our UCS environment to support some new B200 M4 blades. The current firmware version only supported the B200 M3 blades. As part of the process I performed the below steps to complete the upgrade. I split the upgrade into a planning phase and an implementation/upgrade phase. Upgrading firmware of any system can lead to potential outages, things have definitely improved on this over the past decade, but it’s imperative that you plan correctly to make the implementation process go without any hitches. With UCS firmware there is a specific order to follow during the upgrade process. The order to follow is:
- Upgrade UCS Manager
- Upgrade Fabric Interconnect B (subordinate) & Fabric B I/O modules
- Upgrade Fabric Interconnect A (primary) & Fabric A I/O modules
- Upgrade Blade firmware by placing each ESXi Host
During the upgrade process, and particularly during the Fabric Interconnect and I/O module upgrades you will see a swarm of alerts coming from UCSM. This is expected as some of the links will be unavailable as part of the upgrade process so wait until all the steps have been completed before raising an issue with support. As a caveat however, if there is anything that really stands out as not being right open a call with support and get it fixed before proceeding to the next step. During my upgrade process some of the blades showed critical alerts that did not clear and the blades needed to be decommissioned and re-acknowledged to resolve it. This problem stood out and wasn’t hard to recognise that it was more serious that the other alerts.
You will need to check the release requirements from Cisco regarding the upgrade path from your current firmware version to the desired version and also the capabilities that the desired firmware version contains. The upgrade process takes some time so it’s best to review everything in advance and not have to do this on the day of the upgrade itself. For instance during this upgrade process I needed to ensure capability to support B200 M4 blades and VIC 1340 modules as they had been purchased as part of an order for a new project. The steps to carry out in the planning phase are:
Step 1: Verify the Upgrade requirements
Check the release version notes on Cisco’s website for the version you want to upgrade to. For this example we are upgrading to version 2.2