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EqualLogic controller firmware update gone wrong

Yesterday evening we set aside three hours for:
- Installation/cabling/setup of DRAC5 cards into our six ESX production machines, which involves shutting down all the ESX machines and their guests.
- Firmware update of our EqualLogic PS5000X loaner SAN array to be done while all ESX machines were off.

We had set aside 7pm to 10pm for this, plenty of time - or so I thought.

At 7pm I shut everything down, and at 7:10pm I started pulling out servers for the DRAC install.

Cabling confusion - we have two quad-nics in each ESX box, so there are eight cables going to the SAN switch from each machine. Tack on the two for the redundant LAN cabling, and you have ten CAT6 cables from each 1U machine - four total, ten from one 2950, and twelve from the other 2950. Lot of cables in a small space!!

What I'm getting at is that the cables needed to be re&re'd into the same ports on the server, so they all had to be labeled. I know, we should be labling off the bat, but time and resources are against us...I'd say at the moment, but they always are. It's a big weekend project at some point to re-label and re-cable the server room. It was originally super-neat, but impossible to trace cables. So now it's a mess...and hard, but now not impossible to trace cables.

But I digress. Once the DRACs were installed and configured, I powered off all the ESX machines again. Oddly, ESX3 and 4 kept powering themselves back on, just for fun. In retrospect, I'll unplug power to all hosts to prevent issues.

I SSH'd into the SAN, and eventually got the kit file FTP'd up there. TIP: You cannot FTP across subnets when using ISA as your gateway, even if you specify all ports open.

I ran the update command, but the second standby controller timed out, and the update failed. I tried to run the update command again, but once it completes, it deletes the kit file. Had to go through a huge hassle to get it back on again. TIP: Have a physical or at least non-SAN XP client on your SAN network for monitoring and FTP/Serial functions.

Long story (2.5hours) short, we ended up having to serial console into the standby controller, force it into backup mode, delete files, copy files, restart, etc etc etc. But finally, it's working again. Dell tech suggests that the card lost communications long enough for it to time out, corrupting the firmware, causing the controller to fail/not be seen. Anyways, it's working now, both updated from 4.0.6 to 4.1.4. Unfortunately you cannot update each card and keep the SAN online - need to power down all hosts that are connected to the SAN before doing any firmware updates. They said that 'minor' f/w updates can be done while online, but 'minor' = 4.0.1 to 4.0.2. took forever to do, what with me not having a proper client to access the SAN network by. Argh.

Tech doc to follow.


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