Recently I ran into an issue with a VMware server running ESX 4.1 U2. The server started crashing randomly. Working with Dell we did a lot of troubleshooting and they replaced a lot of hardware during the process. Dell could not pinpoint the faulty part and so they started replacing motherboard, CPUs, RAM, Memory Riser Cards, the motherboard (again), and the 2 Qlogic HBAs. At that point Dell required that the HBA Firmware needs to be upgraded due to the replacement parts not being on the latest version. And that’s where things became ugly.
While it is easy to upgrade the drivers, there is not really an easy way to upgrade the firmware on Qlogic HBA cards. There are several documented options on the Qlogic website, the VMware Community forums, and other 3rd party websites. As an example there is a Qlogic vCenter plugin that is supposed to allow to upgrade the firmware straight out of vCenter, but when I installed it the plugin told me that the server in question did not have a Qlogic HBA installed. Well, I knew better for sure. So this option was out of the loop.
The next option I tried was to use the files Dell had provided me with. Well, I wonder why Dell provides files in a zip file that I have to convert into a floppy image file myself?! Really? It is 2012 and Dell requires a floppy for certain upgrades and then only delivers the files in question in non-floppy image file format. Yes, I can use the Dell DRAC interface and mount a floppy, but please – have a pre-built floppy image on your website, Dell! This stinks. After finding a boot disk and after creating a floppy image I used the Dell DRAC to boot into the boot disk and then the floppy image, but for whatever reason the Dell DRAC had issues presenting me with the files. The DRAC also timed out on me really fast and I had to log back in several times. This attempt to flash the new firmware was a no-go as well.
Next up was Qlogic. They offer a “Flasher CD ISO” that is fully bootable and has all the firmware updates included. You boot into the Flasher ISO image and then change directories to the correct folder for your environment. While the image booted fine, I could not get access to the files. I changed to the correct dirive letter, but then I received the message that the CDR101 was not ready. I re-mounted the ISO through the DRAC, but no luck.
Then I followed Qlogic’s instruction to install their SANSurfer FC HBA CLI tool using the offline bundle method. Well, the CLI installed and showed running, but it did not install where it was supposed to be and so I could start the CLI utilities. Then through a different Google search I found a different download link on Qlogic’s website and was able to download a different version of the SANSurfer FC HBA CLI. This came in as an RPM, but there were no good instructions. I did more search on the Internet and then found an old article from 2009 where a guy had installed an earlier version of the RPM. I modified the instructions to match the new name and gave it a shot and oh wonder – it worked. I finally had access to the update utility. Now I upladed the BIN file I had gotten from Dell and was able to upgrade the firmware on the HBAs.
Here is how I upgraded the firmware on my Qlogic HBAs:
1) Download the SANSurfer FC HBA CLI (http://driverdownloads.qlogic.com/QLogicDriverDownloads_UI/SearchByProduct.aspx?ProductCategory=39&Product=934&Os=167)
2) Extract the file and upload the actual RPM file to /root
3) Install the RPM: #>rpm –iv scli-1.7.3-32.i386.rpm
4) Change directories: #> cd /opt/QLogic_Corporation/SANsurferCLI
5) Upload the BIN file with the latest firmware
6) Start the CLI: #> SCLI
7) The utility starts up providing you with several option. In my version option #6 was the one needed to proceed. See the screenshots below for additional details.
Overall this was a time-consuming process and this should not be that hard. Apparently none of the vendors involved really put a lot of effort into this from my perspective. It is the year 2012 and these things should be easier to handle. I had to choke and almost threw up when I heard about the floppy image requirement. Thanks, Dell … but no, thanks.