You know iSCSI and VMware.. I bet not… Part 2

19 04 2014

Alright so if you reviewed Part 1 and you got that down then let’s keep going. Before we go any further I want to stress how much Firmware and Drivers can play a key role in a successful roll out and environment setup. Often times I am asked by customers how often should they update X. My typical response is if there is some sort of security issue ie: Heart Bleed, feature fix or bug fix then address those immediately. Otherwise, establish at least a quarterly patching cycle for your environment. It also helps to have a good Partner/VAR that can advise you on any particular issues or bugs in upgrading. Ok with that being said part 2 may not seem like it helps you in any way shape or form of doing ISCSI successfully but I assure you this is a very important part of getting this right.

Before that let me give you a little back story on this and why it is so important. So just in the past two weeks I was assisting with a iSCSI performance issue and I was a new set of eyes to the problem. My first step is always talk with the customer and engineer to get a back story of what they are seeing and what they have tried and experienced with their troubleshooting. We reviewed the setup and there were some configuration issues that needed to be addressed but what I honed in on was the fact that the Firmware for the host was Circa 2012, I also saw it was using Broadcom NIC’s 5709’s and I had just ran down a rabbit hole a couple of weeks previously on a similar issue that ended up being fixed by updating the NIC firmware and applying the latest ENIC drivers for VMware for the host. So after addressing the configuration issue this was my next thing to address and we upgraded the firmware on the Host (BIOS, NIC, SAS Controller etc..) once upgraded we upgrade the ENIC drivers too. So using IOMETER we did testing before the firmware update and driver update and were getting about 400 Mb/s after the upgrade we were getting 420 Mb/s so it was a noticeable jump in throughput. This just further cements to me that keeping things up to date will only help you in the long run. So with that being said I have already ensured that the switches I am using are on the latest code but I noticed that my host firmware need to be updated and I will be updating the VNXe too and a later post.

First, I am going to walk you through how I updated our Cisco C200 M2’s in the lab. One is running 1.4(3v) and 1.4(3h) firmware we are going to go up to the latest for these C200 which right now is 1.4(3V). Every manufacture does a really great job of giving you a central repository for firmware and drivers some are easier than others to do and navigate. Cisco has their HUU (host update utility), Dell has their Lifecyle Controller or if you have never updated it combo of SBUU and SUU may be called for. Main thing is consult your manufacture for their recommended firmware and drivers for each specific OS.

Step one in this endeavor is for me to download the HUU from Cisco’s website which for my C200 M2 is found here. Once I have the HUU ISO downloaded then I need to login to the CIMC of the Server and mount the ISO.


After hitting Power On the Server will go through it’s POST. You will see where you can hit F6 to go into the Boot Menu, hit F6. Then you will be presented with the Boot Menu if you have mounted the ISO via CIMC then select Virtual CDROM at the Boot Menu and it will begin mounting the HUU. When the HUU mounts it will inventory the server and present you with this screen. Hit Y to continue

Next it will show you the available items that can be updated by the HUU. Select Option 8 to have it update all the applicable items.

It will then start the upgrade process…. First up the CIMC

Once CIMC is done then it will do the BIOS

Once the BIOS is done it will attempt to do the LOM and you may receive the prompt below. Just hit Y.

Then after the LOM’s are done then the Controller is updated

Then the Quad Port adapter is updated next

Once this is done it will bring you back to this menu and show you the status of the updates. If all of them were a Success then you should be able to go ahead and type in option 10

When you hit option 10 it will then reboot the host and finish applying the updates

During this portion of the process it will terminate your connection to the CIMC and then you will have to launch another session to the CIMC to be able to interact with the server. This can take a minute or two so be patient during the upgrade process. After the upgrade is complete you can log back into the CIMC and see that this update is complete.






This entire process is really straight forward and easy but just takes time to do. In doing this, prior to setting up your iSCSI you ensure that the ground work has been laid from the host perspective to set you up for success. If you already have your host setup for iSCSI then you can still do this process and update your server. Stay tuned for Part 3 we will start the configuration portion of iSCSI.




One response

26 04 2014
Newsletter: April 26, 2014 | Notes from MWhite

[…] making sure the network is good – and some great info there, and he follows it in part 2 with host stuff – meaning firmware updates everywhere, and in part 3 he talks about connections.  So a very […]


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