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Best Practices for ProLiant Firmware and Driver Deployment

Today Michael Garner is going to tell us about general best practices for firmware updates and driver updates for ProLiant Servers.


One of the things to know about best practices is that they are recommendations, that they might not fit every environment, so you'll need to look at your customers environment and see whether these best practices are for them or if they need to be modified specifically to fit in thoseenvironments.


Best practices are also subject to change over time as newer technology, more innovative software's released that changes the standard on which these best practices were established.



To help you with best practices, we've released a number of guides; we have a new overview and planning guide that's available on the web now; and an implementer’s guide that is also being worked on.


The overview guide describes HP's firmware update strategy at a very high level.


The planning guide provides information on planning updates for single servers, enclosures, large enterprises and distributed data centers. Distributed data centers are those where you have maybe a large enterprise, you have a lot of satellite stores that need to be updated, the planning guide also contains planning questions to help guide you in the planning, known limitations, information on baselines in intermediate updates that may be required if you're updating from very old firmware.


You can learn a little bit more on planning updates with this following videos:


Planning Deployment C Class Enclosures


Planning Firmware deployment for single servers


Planning Deployment Large Enviroments

Planning Deployment Dist Data Center



The implementers guide will actually show you step by step how to use different firmware and tools that HP provides, and also has a troubleshooting section and the frequently asked questions on many of the firmware questions that you may have, new versions of these guides will be out in early 2010 and will be updated periodically thereafter, meanwhile you can take a look to this videos on how to perform deployment to single servers and enclosures:


Performing Firmware deployment for enclsures

Performing Firmware deployment for single servers


Performing Deployment Large Enviroments


Performing Dist Data Center



When thinking about best practices the first thing that we recommend is create a baseline; the baseline is a set of updates that you want to apply across all of your servers and enclosures, you may actually be limited to a specific server or enclosure model in some instances. HP recommends using service pack for ProLiant as the baseline, from this, once that you establish the baseline, you have to determine the dependencies and any intern updates that they you need to deploy, we recommend going to the website and checking for any critical advisories that may be posted out there and hot fixes that may also be available.


Once you've done that you can also review the documentation associate with that SPP including any updates in the planning guide that may have come out. So once you've established a baseline, the next thing to do is to determine what's actually installed on the system, and we call this firmware gap analysis; to do this you can use HP SUM reports, you can use things like that OA rack information firmware, a report that comes out whenever you browse into an onboard administrator and you can also purchase HP's former gap analysis service.


Once you know what's installed and you know what your baseline is, we need to set a process in place on how often actually change that baseline, they are updates that come out all the time from HP. Hot fixes that need to be applied to servers, and so you need a process in place on how to take that that baseline and include those hot fixes, you need, also to take a look at how often you're going to change the entire baseline to a new SPP or a new custom baseline that you’ve set, you need to determine the process for deploying these updates, now that's part of the change management processes knowing how you're going to push it out to the different systems that need to be updated. And finally, once you have change management processes in place, you need to test it and I recommend on a single server or an enclosure and then spread out to a larger enterprise.


We say always deploy drivers concurrently with firmware updates this is critical because there are a lot of dependencies between the software and the firmware, those dependencies can be met by a deployment both together and that way, tools such as the HP SUM can leverage its information and make sure that everything its installed correctly and in the right order, we also say don't downgrade firmware or rewrite the same firmware unless there's a specific need to do so. Downgrading firmware may cause incompatibilities between devices if the downgraded firmware doesn't mesh well with another device driver or even another piece of firmware on your system.


Once you've deployed the updates we always recommend rebooting the server if it's a server based update that allows everything to be flushed out, memory to be cleared, everything starts out fresh and there you have a good system for everything to run tin.


We also recommend that you stay within the twelve months support window of the service pack. The twelve month window is based on the release date of the SPP, so check frequently on the HP website for new ones so that you can see when an update may be possible. Once you have SPP as your baseline, you have to figure out how you're going to apply critical updates, some people actually wait for the next SPP releasing, that's our recommendation, unless the critical update is needed in your environment, we want to hold off until we've tested it thoroughly with the complete release set. The critical updates sometimes is made available immediately so that it can fix an issue reported by a customer and then has rolled into testing and tested thoroughly and we ask you to wait until we get to that point, but if you have that update as a need in your system where you're having downtime and it fixes the problem by all means deploy that critical update.


We also allow you to use USB keys or network file share so that you can add and remove software and firmware to the SPP, other best practices we have is that we recommend using HP SUM to deploy the firmware and software, if you are forced to deploy firmware and software separately we ask that you do the drivers first, then any additional software such as agent in utilities and do the firmware last.


After installing a new server update the firmware before installing any operating system this ensures that any firmware issues with the operating system installation are addressed.


Always be sure that you have a backup of the server in case the firmware update fails, and then once you're in this environment test your set up in the lab environment before rolling it into production.


HP SUM provides a dry run feature that can be used to simulate an install and it’ll actually push the updates to the remote system, it will do everything up to the point of actually installing the peace of firmware, so if you're scripting the updates, you can test at all your script, you can modify return coach, you can ensure that you can handle any situation that may arise during the firmware update process, if you don't have a test lab pick one server and update it, then let the server run for a few days under normal workload once it's been updated and then once that server update has been completed and tested for few days, roll it out to small groups of servers and finally to the enterprise.


Thanks for taking the time to read this information. We’d like to invite you now to watch our presenter’s biography.



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Thank you!

Tom Woodworth | ‎03-20-2012 08:55 PM

performing firmware deployment for single servers has the wrong video linked to it.

LucyEllis | ‎03-26-2012 08:57 PM

Thanks!  We'll make the correction.


Sam John | ‎01-07-2013 04:11 PM

the webiste does not work. It says the page is not available.

Xani | ‎01-08-2013 04:28 PM

Hello Sam John,


 Thanks for noticing! Please try instead.


Also the correction has been made in the blog post text.


Best Regards,

Coffee Coaching Team.  

Sparky | ‎06-26-2014 07:27 AM

Hello, thanks for all your videos. Do you have video or reference how to downgrade firmware, which was automaticaly installed by offline DVD update?



Willa | ‎06-27-2014 06:14 PM

Hi Sparky, thanks for contacting us. Could you please give us a little more information on which firmware you are trying to downgrade?


Best regards, 

Coffe Coaching Team

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