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Minimizing Downtime when Deploying Firmware and Driver Updates

Hello everyone, on this session Michael Garner will discuss with us, how to minimize downtime when deploying firmware or driver updates.


The first thing he'll talk about is what causes downtime during the update process: things like driver installations where they have to make registry changes; those things can require reboots to be able to load a driver.


In addition, firmware in many cases can be staged on the device but then has to be activated and a reboot is normally required to handle that, next firmware updates may require exclusive access to the hardware, other things that can cost outages during this time are dependencies between updates that require you to physically take the server down boot from an ISO image that we provide, do the firmware update and go back into the production OS.



Other things are hot fixes and customer advisories, especially the ones that were found before the deployment process started, and finally the installation method that was chosen during the firmware update process.


For servers, ways to reduce the downtime include the use of HP SUM. It allows you to generate reports on what's installed on the system, what the recommended updates are on each server, you do all of that before for deploying anything on any of this servers. 


You can also use a well-tested baseline preferably the HP Service Pack for ProLiant or SPP. One of these you can also do is go to the SPP website and determine for any hot fixes for that SPP.


Hot fixes are critical updates that we feel like me to be added to the SPP and will hopefully limit the amount of down time.


We also recommend that you perform driver and firmware updates online; that is with the server in the production environment using either HP SUM or HP SIM first, so the number of updates needed in an offline mode we have to put in the ISO image is minimized with some instances even yet eliminated.


We also recommend that you perform infrastructure updates either in parallel with the server or prior to the server updates.


When you install firmware and drivers together, you can usually get with one reboot the activation for more or one drivers; in addition, if you're going to use something like iLo virtual media to boot the ISO image, we recommend to update iLo firmware through the iLo network management port first because when iLo firmware updates it will disconnect any remote sessions, including virtual media and this could hold the installation right in the middle. So update through the network port first, and then update the rest of it if you're using iLo virtual media.


For the onboard administrator updates most of the time you do not require any downtime for the enclosure and that they can be performed any time. On the OA itself the only real covet you have, is that if you're running a really old version, you must first upgrade to version 2.32 before moving forward. If you’re 2.32 or later you can easily go to the latest version.


Per virtual connect: if you want to update the virtual connect, the first thing to do is run a health check. Once you validated that the virtual connect is healthy, you also need to make sure that your models are set up in a redundant configuration.


The third, is to watch for the installation order. If your VC firmware is older than 3.00, there are instances where you have to update the OA firmware first. Now if you have a really old VC farmer like version 1.34, you have to update the VC first and then update the OA, then you may have to update the VC again. So, be aware of those types of things and they're listed in the planning guides HP has available for firmware updates.


Also watch for customer advisories, for any issues with VC firmware updates, this goes for servers and OA’s as well, customer advisories are a way for HP to communicate to you when they're critical issues out there and allow you to sidestep any issues that may cause outages.


Last, validate the NICs and fiber channels HBAs/CNAs that are connected to the virtual connect, have the right firmware and drivers, and that are compatible with the VC module updates that you want to deploy.


Now, on the installation method chosen we strongly recommend that use online updates, they’re preferred because everything can be staged and you only have to do one reboot in order to activate that firmware or driver update. We are going to make the fiber channel and converged networks adapters available online which means that the only reboot you need is the one to activate everything, there's no longer the need to go to an offline environment and then come back into a production environment and have that extra outage time.

Also, we recommend updating drivers and firmware together.


We also recommend that use HP SUM if you're going to deploy updates when deploying to a hundred concurrent targets or fewer, and you can use either scripted or GUI methods to do that.


For larger environments, we recommend using HP systems insight manager, if you have new hardware you're still going to need an offline update you'll still need to take the SPP ISO boot through it, update the firmware on that blade before you deploy the OS.


And also, you can use the scheduling feature in the new HP SUM 5.0.0 to stage the updates, this allows you to push the updates out to the target systems, having deployed as scheduled time and then have one reboot to activate, and that minimizes the maintenance window that you may need to deploy those updates.


We appreciate your time, hope this information has been useful, make sure to become a part of our community for more of Coffee Coaching by following in any of our Channels:


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