One of the challenges with managing a lot of virtualized HP servers is firmware updates. Unlike Windows or Linux hosts where you can perform relatively simple on-line updates, ESX(i) hosts must be done offline. Traditionally you boot from the HP Firmware DVD and apply the updates. The update process was painfully slow, would sometimes freeze, and wouldn’t always get all updates applied on the first past. In addition, HP releases firmware updates so regularly that it’s hard to keep pace. The smart array controllers have had more critical updates than I can count.
Today HP launched a radically new update product based on HP Smart Update Manager 5.0. It promises “vastly improved update speeds” for HP blade systems, new GUI, and online updating of QLogic HBA firmware. It’s the HP Service Pack for ProLiant 2012.01.0 and you can download it here.
You can “burn” the ISO to a USB stick for faster booting, by using the HP USB Disk tool found here. If you use HP servers, now is the time to download the new update ISO and try it out. Firmware updates, particularly for blade systems, are critical for system stability, security, and avoiding unplanned downtime. At least twice a year you should review the lastest HP firmware updates and see if they apply to your environment, then schedule their deployment.