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Cisco Champions at CLMEL

Cisco Live Melbourne has come and gone for another year and this year was without a doubt the best of all the years I’ve attended so far. This was my 3rd year at CLMEL (#CLMEL) and it was an action packed week. At previous events I’ve been primarily going to the breakout sessions and giving myself a migraine from the amount of information I tried to chug through. This year I went in community mode. Being a Cisco Champion I was lucky to be able to partake in some special events, get some nice perk treatment such as prime seats for the keynote and also to interact with the other Cisco Champions. The number of Cisco Champions for Australia in 2017 has seen a significant increase and it’s heavily loaded towards Melbourne so CLMEL provided the ideal opportunity to meet new people.

CL-Mel-Champs

Last year there were no real events so it was great to see some special Cisco Champions events organised and allow the Champions to meet up. This year Veritas, the events organisers, were on hand to assist with the Cisco Champion events throughout the week. A massive thank you to Freya for keeping things in check throughout the few days. A huge thank you also goes to Brandon Prebynski and Lauren Friedman of the Cisco Champions program for getting everything organised on the back end. The value added to the program during Cisco Live this year cannot be underestimated.

The first order of business on Day 1, Tuesday, was the Data Centre Innovation Day. This session provided an inside look at the upcoming technology roadmap for data centre tech. The Data Centre Innovation Day is by invite only and was organised for me by Lauren Friendman (massive thanks for that). I found the information on the upcoming  roadmaps for UCS Compute, UCS Central and UCS Director platforms. I can’t divulge anything as it was under NDA but I can say some of it is pretty cool. One thing they did discuss which I can mention is the new interoperability matrix tool which has been updated to make it easier to search compatibility requirements. I haven’t played around with it yet but will most likely be using it for my next planned upgrade. Read More

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Melbourne DCUG Superstar Session

The Cisco DCUG has been running for almost a year now and we’ve been very lucky with the support we’ve recieved from both Cisco and the IT community. Back in March, I know I’m well behind the times here due to other commitments, we were immensely privileged to have some top speakers present to the local DCUG.

Cisco Live opening day fell on the same day as our monthly DCUG meeting so it made sense to try to get some of the heavy hitters over from the US to present for us. Cisco DCUG ran with superstars Lauren Malhoit and Remi Phillippe. Lauren is well known within the IT community for her work on the In Tech We Trust podcast but also through her work on ACI. She’s got a course on Pluralsight around ACI if you’re interested in learning more about the Cisco technology. She’s recently jumped into a new role at Techwise TV. Lauren is also the author of a couple of books and an avid blogger for AdaptingIT.com and VirtualizationAdmin.com. Lauren is a massive presence within the tecnology community and I was immensely excited when she agreed to present at the DCUG. Remi is a TME within Cisco’s INSBU and has a heavy focus on the data center analytics platform, Tetration. A massive shout out goes to Rob Tappenden from Cisco in ANZ for helping to organise such quality speakers and initiating the initial contact. A small shout-out (almost at whisper-level) goes to Brett Johnson from vBrownBag for letting us know Lauren was making the trip out to Melbourne.

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Fix: Cisco B200 M4 – FlexFlash – FFCH_Error_old_firmware_Running_error

During a recent upgrade of Cisco B200 M4 blades I got the following error:

FlexFlash FFCH_ERROR_OLD_FIRMWARE_RUNNING
flexflash-error

I really wasn’t sure what was causing the issue but it turned out to be a known bug for M4 blades. More details can be found over on Cisco BugSearch Note: You’ll need a Cisco Login to access the site. Basically the issue affects B200 M4 blades upgraded to 2.2(4) or higher.

The workaround is actually quite easy and just needs to have the FlexFlash Controller reset. This can be done using the below steps:

Step 1: Select Equipment -> Chassis # -> Server # -> Inventory -> Storage -> Reset FlexFlash Controller

Flexflash-fix-steps

Step 2: Click Yes to reset the FlexFlash controller

reset-flexflash-controller

Step 3: Click Ok on reset notification

flexflash-controller-ok

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Fix: Cisco UCS B200 M4 Activation Failed

During a recent upgrade I ran into a problem with activation of B200 M4 blade. This was following the infrastructure firmware upgrade and the next step was to upgrade the server firmware. However, before upgrading the server firmware I got the error from the B200 M4 blades showing the following error:

Activation failed and Activate Status Set to Failed

This turned out to be due to the B200 M4 blades shipping with version 7.0 of the board controller firmware. On investigation with Cisco I found that it’s a known bug – CSCuu78484

You can follow the commands to change the base board. You can find more information on that from the Cisco forums but the commands you need are below:

#scope server X/Y (chassis X blade Y)

#scope boardcontroller

#show image

#activate firmware version.0 force

>Select a lower version than current one

#commit-buffer

What I found was that since I was going to be upgrading the blade firmware version anyway there was no point in dropping the server firmware back and instead proceed with the upgrade which fixed the issue.

I spoke with TAC and they advised that the error could be ignored and I could proceed with the UCS upgrade. The full details of the upgrade can be found in another post.

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How To: Cisco UCS Firmware Upgrade 2.2 to 3.1 with Auto-Install

Recently I had to upgrade our ESXi hosts from Update 2 to Update 3 due to security patch requirements. This requirement stretches across two separate physical environments, one running IBM blades and the other running on Cisco UCS blade chassis in a Flexpod configuration. The upgrade paths for both are slightly different, and they also run on different vCenter platforms. Both of these also have different upgrade paths as one is running VMware SRM and is in linked mode. I’m not going to discuss the IBM upgrades but I did need to upgrade the firmware of the Infrastructure and Servers for Cisco UCSM.

Before you being any upgrade process I highly recommend reading the release notes to make sure that a) an upgrade path exists from your current version, b) you become aware of any known issues in the new version and c) the features you want exist in the new version

UCS Upgrade Prep Work

Check the UCS Release Guides

Check the release notes to make sure all the components and modules are supported. The release notes for UCS Manager can be found on their site. The link is listed further below in the documents section.

Some of the things to check within the release notes are:
* Resolved Caveats

ucs-caveats-precheck

  • UCS Version Upgrade patch

ucs-infra-requirements-precheck

  • UCS Infrastructure Hardware compatibility

ucs-infra-requirements-precheck1

  • Minimum software version for UCS Blade servers

ucs-server-requirements-precheck1

Open a Pre-Emptive Support Call

I opened a call with Cisco TAC to investigate the discrepancy in the firmware versions. The advice was to downgrade the B200 M4 server firmware down to 4.0 (1). However, as I was planning on upgrading anyway I’ve now confirmed that the best option is to upgrade to the planned 3.1 version. As part of this upgrade I will also upgrade all the ESXi hosts on that site the same day. There is a second UCS domain on another site that will be upgraded on another date.

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Cisco Live Recap

cisco_live_mel_imageLast week I had the opportunity to attend Cisco Live in Melbourne and it was awesome. This is the second year I’ve attended Cisco Live but this year I was there as an Attendee so I had access to the breakout sessions. Previously I only had an Explorer Plus pass which was good for the keynote access, partner theatre sessions  and the World of Solutions. While that was fun experience getting access to the breakout session was what I really wanted, and they didn’t disappoint. I’m privileged in that my ticket to Cisco Live was covered by my employer that sees the value in such events and we were also able to leverage Cisco Learning credits. If you wish to attend and have these credits available to you this is a great return on investment and one I’d recommend over a regular 5-day training course.

This year Cisco Live was once again held at Melbourne Convention Centre and it’s a brilliant facility that has a great layout, is large enough to cater for the ever-growing number of attendees and is easy to access via public transport. The breakout sessions are full on and a number of people had mentioned beforehand that going to Cisco Live was like drinking from a firehose. They weren’t wrong. Cisco tee up the sessions and you try to cram as much as you can into your grey matter. I also chose to sign up for an extra day technical seminar which was an 8 hour session on Cisco UCS. There were a number of streams that could be chosen but my focus is on UCS. This was an added extra on top of the regular attendee ticket. During the remainder of the week I tried to cram in as many other breakout sessions as I could and catch a few of the partner sessions as well as have some downtime to network a bit.

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UCS Director 5.4 – Post upgrade NetApp storage connection issue

After a recent upgrade to UCS Director 5.4 I noticed that my storage connections were showing a status of failed on the dashboard. I went to Administration -> Physical Accounts -> Physical Accounts. All of my NetApp controllers were offline.
Netapp connection fail UCS Director
I went to edit settings and re-entered my password to make sure that it had been picked up correctly.


Netapp UCSD Edit settingsAll the settings were fine so I saved them and tested the connection to the controllers again.
NetApp UCSD Test Connection

The connection failed with the following error:

500 Connection has been shutdown: javax.net.ssl.SSLHandsakeException:

Server chose SSLv3, but that protocol version is not enabled or not supported by the client.

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How To: UCS Director 5.4 Patch 1 update

After the recent upgrade to 5.4 I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to 5.4.1. Go to the download software portal for Cisco. Download the 5.4.1.zip patch file. I had a number of issue with the download as the checksum didn’t match. I had to take a number of attempts to get the file in-tact. I believe the issue was the ISA that acts as our internet proxy. Death to the ISA!!!!

Once the file has been downloaded copy it to your FTP server. Now it’s time to apply the patch. log onto UCS Director via either the console or SSH using the shelladmin account. Select option 3 to stop all the services.

UCSD upgrade step 1

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How To: Cisco UCS Director – 5.3 to 5.4 Upgrade

Cisco announced their release of UCS Director 5.4 back in November. As I’m currently running 5.3 and ran into an issue with a workflow Cisco support recommended upgrading to 5.4. I had a look over the Cisco UCS Director 5.4 Release Notes and there’s a new version of Java and the CentOS operating system are newer in the latest version. Due to this the upgrade procedure for 5.4 is different from previous version. In earlier versions it was possible to upload a patch via shelladmin and it would upgrade the software and database schema in place. 5.4 however requires new appliances to be deployed and a migration of database files etc. to be done between the 5.3 and 5.4 versions.

I really think that Cisco needs to look at using a HTML 5 console in the future as this upgrade path is overly complicated. Considering a lot of companies want you to be on the latest version when opening support calls, including Cisco, it would make sense for them to make it easier to perform the required upgrades.

The primary changes that have caused the modification to the upgrade path are:

  • CentOS version 5.4 to version 6.6
  • Java version 1.6 to version 1.8

Another thing to note is that version 5.54 requires 12GB RAM.

Cisco recommend standing up  the new appliances beside your current UCS Director and Bare-Metal Appliances and performing a migration. In my case there’s a few firewall rule etc already been created for the existing environment so I wanted to keep the same IP addresses and machine names. I changed the IP addresses of the current appliances to be something else within the same subnet and gave the new appliances temporary names but the existing IP addresses. Once everything had been migrated and the changes confirmed I was able to rename the appliances to be the existing ones and removed the older appliances from the infrastructure. Before commencing the upgrade I also had a sold read over the UCS Director Upgrade 5.4 Guide and the UCS Director Bare-Metal Agent 5.4 Upgrade Guide

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Cisco Champion 2016

CiscoChampion Header

Last Saturday I awoke to find an email from Cisco Champions Program welcoming me into the Cisco Champions community for 2016. I feel humbled, honoured and excited to be selected to be part of this community. This is my first time being nominated as a Cisco Champion and for me personally it shows that I’m progressing in the direction I wished in my career.

When I began this blog a couple of years ago mainly as a drop zone for documenting technical issues I ran into I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have ended up making a contribution to the greater IT community.

For 2016 I want to continue my level of participation in the community via this blog and hopefully expand to participating in podcasts. On a local level I want to contribute more in the virtualization, data center and automation communities. And from a personal level I want to interact with the other Cisco Champions and expand my knowledge of Cisco solutions and services.

Well done to all the other Cisco Champions, particularly the other novices. It’s going to be a blast. I’m looking forward to attend CLMEL later this year as a Cisco Champion.