Upgrading Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects

I have to do this first, as this is a high-risk change for any environment:

disclaimerDISCLAMER: I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DAMAGE OR CORRUPTION OF DATA THAT MAY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF CARRYING OUT STEPS DESCRIBED BELOW. YOU DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

And now to the point. Cisco has two generations of Fabric Interconnects with the third generation released just recently. There is 6100 series, which includes 6120XP and 6140XP. Second generation is 6200 series, which introduced unified ports and also has two models in its range – 6248UP and 6296UP. And there is now a third generation of 40Gb fabric interconnects with 6324, 6332 and 6332-16UP models.

We are yet to see mass adoption of 40Gb FIs. And some of the customers are still upgrading from the first to the second generation.

In this blog post we will go through the process of upgrading 6100 fabric interconnects to 6200 by using 6120 and 6248 as an example.

Prerequisites

Cisco UCS has a pair of fabric interconnects which work in an active/passive mode from a control plane perspective. This lets us do an in-place upgrade of a FI cluster by upgrading interconnects one at a time without any further reconfiguration needed in UCS Manager in most cases.

For a successful upgrade old and new interconnects MUST run on the same firmware revision. That means you will need to upgrade the first new FI to the same firmware before you can join it to the cluster to replace the first old FI.

This can be done by booting the FI in a standalone mode, giving it an IP address and installing firmware via UCS Manager.

The second FI won’t need a manual firmware update, because when a FI of the same hardware model is joined to a cluster it’s upgraded automatically from the other FI.

Preparation tasks

It’s a good idea to make a record of all connections from the current fabric interconnects and make a configuration backup before an upgrade.

ucs_backup

If you have any unused connections which you’re not planning to move, it’s a good time to disconnect the cables and disable these ports.

Cisco strongly suggests to also upgrade the firmware on all software and hardware components of the existing UCS to the latest recommended version first.

Upgrading firmware on the first new FI

Steps to upgrade firmware on the first new fabric interconnect are as follows:

  • Rack and stack the new FI close enough to the old interconnects to make sure all cables can reach it.
  • Connect a console cable to the new FI, boot it up and when you are asked “Is this Fabric interconnect part of a cluster”, select NO to boot the FI in a standalone mode.
  • Assign an IP address to the FI and connect to it using UCS Manager.
  • Upgrade the firmware, which will reboot the fabric interconnect.
  • Reset the configuration on the FI, which will cause another reboot:
    • # connect local-mgmt
      # erase config

  • Once the FI is upgraded and reset to factory defaults you can proceed with joining it to the cluster.

Replacing the first FI

  • Determine which old FI is in the subordinate mode (upgrade a FI only if it’s in subordinate mode!) and disable server ports on it.
  • Shut down the old subordinate FI.
  • Move L1/L2, management, server and Ethernet/FC/FCoE uplink ports to the new FI.
  • Boot the new FI. This time the new FI will detect the presence of the peer FI. When you see the following prompt type YES:
    • Installer has detected the presence of a peer Fabric interconnect. This Fabric interconnect will be added to the cluster. Continue (y/n) ?

  • Follow the console prompts and assign an IP address to the new FI. The rest of the settings will be pulled from the peer FI.

Once the new FI joins the cluster you should see the following equipment topology in UCS Manager (This screenshot was made after the primary role had been moved to the new FI. Initially you should see the new FI as subordinate.):

two_fis

  • At this stage make sure that all configuration has been applied to the new FI and you can see all LAN and SAN uplinks and port channels.
  • Enable server ports on the new FI and reacknowledge all chassis.

Reacknowledging a chassis might be disruptive to the traffic flow from the blades. So make sure you don’t have any production workloads running on it. If you have two chassis and enough capacity to run all VMs on either of them, you can temporarily move VMs between the chassis and reacknowledge one chassis at a time.

Replacing the second FI

You will need to promote the new FI to be the primary, before proceeding with an upgrade of the second FI. To change the roles, use SSH to log in to the old FI, which is currently the primary (you can’t change roles from the subordinate FI) and run the following commands:

# connect local-mgmt
# cluster lead b
# show cluster state

The rest of the process is exactly the same.

After the upgrade, if needed, reconfigure any of the links which may have had their port numbers changed, such as if you had an expansion module in the old FIs, but not on the new FIs.

References

Cisco has a guide which has a step by step procedures for upgrading fabric interconnects, I/O modules, VIC cards as well as rack-mount servers. Refer to this guide for any further clarifications:

 

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2 Responses to “Upgrading Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects”

  1. vgeezer Says:

    Thanks, very useful and easy to follow steps!

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