Over the last weekend I have performed a Live non-disruptive upgrade of my Nimble CS220 array, this was primarily a recommended Firmware update BUT I also needed some of the functionality in order to get MPIO working on an iSCSI volume.
The experience was uneventful, but interesting too – so I have decided to share my experience with you so that you DON’T PANIC. I was fortunate enough to post on Twitter that I was doing the process and subsequently got hold of a Systems Engineer from Nimble who held my virtual hand (thanks Nick D).
The first task, was to make a note of the Management IP addresses, just so that i could monitor the process using PING. The Nimble operates a Active / Passive arrangement with it’s Controllers with the IP’s moving between the controllers during a failover.
The next task was vis the Nimble Management screen – simply click the button marked Download. This initially contacts Nimble Support services and downloads the correct Firmware update to your device. NOTE: This stage does not update the controllers, so can be done prior to the scheduled time. Once successfully downloaded, you simple click on Update.
It was during this process that I really appreciated the hand holding. The upgrade process stated that their were 7 steps, unfortunately this is broken down into a,b & c’s..
Due to the Active / Passive nature of the controllers and the clever way the update process works, it would appear that the “Firmware Update” is applied to a number of components on each controller in turn – Drives, Motherboard, running Firmware etc.. What I experienced was probably around a dozen steps, with Stage 2 repeating three times along with Stage 5. This process is a little off putting and I had to trust that the upgrade would complete – no way was I trying to abort the process half way through!
During the upgrade process the management ports appears to drop for a few seconds, never both together and never for longer than a few seconds (as you can see in the screen shot). As far as my VMware Hosts were concerned I did not see any issues or reported communication problems with the storage.
Finally after around 30 minutes the Nimble Array came back to normal operation and successfully displayed this message.
If I could provide Nimble Storage with some feedback, it would be to either not number the steps and provide a progress bar OR to explicitly state which component is been upgraded at each step ie. Controller 1 Motherboard, Controller 2 Motherboard, Controller 1 NIC’s, Controller 2 NIC’s etc..
All in all it was a painless upgrade, so I will be a little less worried next time. I just hope that anyone else thinking about upgrading the controllers will read this and not panic during the process! After the upgrade, I did some testing of my Virtual machines to ensure everything was OK and no errors were reported.
I am now ready to enable MPIO on my Windows 2008 server.