Firmware Updates on vSphere Hosts

Recently, HP and Dell have both come out with their latest generation hardware platforms (HP’s Gen8 platform and Dell’s 12th generation platform).  Along with those platforms come updates to embedded management features (HP’s iLO and Dell’s iDRAC 7).

Great stuff.  But sometimes in the real world, we’re faced with hardware that wasn’t manufactured this year.  How does one manage those platforms in a virtualized environment?

The specifics of the problem that I faced are probably not that surprising.  I was adding storage to an HP DL180 G5 and the 3TB drives I was adding weren’t recognized by the controller.  Step one is to make sure that the drive controller firmware up-to-date.  The instructions on the HP website have a great procedure for downloading the Smart Update manager, using an HP utility to create a bootable USB drive with it, and adding the firmware update to a subdirectory.  In a note on the bottom, it indicates that this procedure won’t work for 100-series servers.  Oops.  However, there’s a Linux version.

After futzing around with some thin Live CD distributions, I finally downloaded CentOS‘s most recent, stable LiveCD ISO and created a bootable USB drive using UNetbootin‘s “from ISO” option, and put the firmware update software for Linux in the root directory.  When I booted into CentOS from the USB on the HP server, the USB was automatically mounted in /mnt/drive/sda1.  From a terminal window, I upgraded to root privileges (you don’t log in as root, do you?), and ran the flash utility.   It took less than a minute to run, and a reboot showed successful update of the controller firmware.
The drives are still shown as 0.0GB in capacity, but that’s another story.
Yet another reason why a LiveCD should be a standard part of the toolkit.

Photo by gothopotam

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John White is walking the path to virtualization mastery.

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