HP ESXi 5.1 Update 1 Custom ISO Released

Just like clockwork, the day VMware releases a major update to ESXi, HP releases customized installation HP Logomedia the same day. Hard to beat such great and timely support for your VMware environment! Last week VMware released vSphere 5.1 Update 1, and also posted was the HP ESXi 5.1 update 1 custom installation ISO.

If you use HP ProLiant servers, then using the HP customized ISO is strongly recommended, or even required (Gen8), for a properly functioning host. Baked in a tested drivers and HP management tools that enable full ProLiant functionality with VMware ESXi. The HP ESXi 5.1 update 1 custom ISO is your one stop shop for an optimized ProLiant server.

Remember, as always, to keep your HP ProLiant server firmware up to date with supported versions. That is very important for ESXi hosts, as the firmware and drivers are tested together in bundles. For maximum stability, performance, and best practices you need to ensure your servers are under a supported recipe. You can download the latest HP Service Pack for ProLiant here.

HP Provider Features

  • Report installed licenses for HP Dynamic Smart Array Controller.
  • Report New memory properties.
  • Support for IP Address encoding in SNMP traps.
  • Support SMX MemoryModuleOnBoard association.
  • HP Dynamic Smart Array Controller split cache support.
  • Report New RAID levels for storage volume fault tolerance.
  • HP Smart Cache support.
  • Update reporting of Smart Array Cache Status to align with firmware and iLO.

HP AMS features

  • Report running SW processes to HP Insight Remote Support.
  • Report vSphere 5.1 U1 SNMP agent management IP and enable VMware vSphere 5.1
  • U1 SNMP agent to report iLO4 management IP.
  • IML logging for NIC, and SAS traps.
  • Limit AMS log file size and support log redirection as defined by the ESXi host parameter:
  • ScratchConfig.ConfiguredScratchLocation

SR-IOV Support

  • Updated Intel 10Gb network driver to enable SR-IOV for the HP 560FLB, 560M, 560 SFP+, and 560FLR-SFP+. (Note: ESXi Enterprise Plus is required for SR-IOV)

Other Enhancements

  • FCoE on Emulex CNAs
    To support FCoE on Emulex CNAs on vSphere 5.1 U1, HP recommends using the versions of the vSphere 5.1 U1 Emulex drivers as defined in the HP ProLiant server and option firmware and driver support recipe document available here.
  • iSCSI on Emulex
    iSCSI on Emulex is now supported on vSphere 5.1 U1 using the versions of the Emulex drivers defined in the October HP ProLiant server and option firmware and driver support recipe document available here.


HP VMware vSphere 5.1 U1 Customized Image, April 2013, Release Notes
HP VMware vSphere 5.1 U1, April 2013, Driver VIBs
April 2013 VMware Firmware and Software Recipe
HP Custom Image for ESXi 5.1 Update 1 Install CD
HP ProLiant Server VMware Support Matrix

February 2013 HP Service Pack for ProLiant released

For those of you with HP ProLiant servers in your environment, you know that on a quarterly basis HP releases a new “HP Service Pack for ProLiant”, which is a combo ISO of firmware, drivers, and tools for your ProLiant rackmount and blade servers. It’s very important to keep firmware up to date, as it can contain critical security updates, stability updates, and compatibility fixes for new operating systems, such as Windows Server 2012 or ESXi 5.0 U2.

What is also interesting, and maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before, is that HP offers non-bootable subsets for specific operating systems and OSes. For example, you can download the BladeSystem Microsoft Windows Server pack ISO image separately. Personally I’d just do the full ISO, but maybe you want something a bit more portable.

In VMware environments it’s particularly important to be using validated configurations, which HP calls a recipe. That’s a combination of HP firmware, HP drivers, HP agents, and ESXi base image. Drifting from the supported recipes can cause problems, particularly in the BladeSystem. I have a link below to the VMware recipe PDF. Also new to this release is enhanced online deployment of firmware on ESXi hosts.

Finally, HP has provided some support Windows Server 2012 on limited G6 models. Windows Server 2012 is very different from Windows Server 2008 R2, so don’t even try and shoehorn it on a non-supported HP server if you want everything to work such as iLO.

HP Service Pack for ProLiant

Full Documentation
Release Notes
Content Report
Server Support Guide
February 2013 VMware Firmware and Software Recipe

Enhancements to the 2013.02 SPP include:

  • Contains drivers and firmware for newest HP ProLiant Gen 8 options
    • HP Ethernet 1Gb 4-port 366FLR Adapter
    • HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 560M Adapter
    • HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 560FLR SFP+ Adapter
    • HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 530T Adapter
  • Provides online deployment of VMware ESXi 5.0 and VMware vSphere 5.1 firmware smart components for HP ProLiant servers so that only 1 reboot is required for updates to take effect; thus increasing uptime. Supported new components are:
    • HP ProLiant Gen 8 and G7 BIOS System ROMS
    • HP Integrated Lights-Out 3 and 4
    • HP Smart Array Controllers – P2XX, P4XX, P8XX
    • Select Hard Disk Drives for HP ProLiant Gen 8 and G7 servers
  • Contains latest operating system support for:
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9
    • VMware ESXi 5.0 U2
  • Extends Microsoft Windows Server 2012 support to the following HP ProLiant G6 servers:
    • HP ProLiant BL460c G6 Server
    • HP ProLiant DL380 G6 Server
    • HP ProLiant DL360 G6 Server
    • HP ProLiant ML350 G6 Server
  • Contains PXE Directory information and sample files about PXE booting the SPP ISO for improved qualification cycles, resource usage, maintenance windows, and downtime
  • Contains the latest release of HP Smart Update Manager, HP SUM 5.3.5.
    • Added ability to allow users to use root credentials to deploy firmware components and rpms to Linux systems when logged in with a user account
    • Performance improvement to Add New Target screen: Added Server / Operating System selections to the Target Type drop down list
    • Updated reports to include driver and agent information in addition to NIC /CNA/FC HBA driver and firmware information for Windows and Linux operating systems
    • Reduced memory usage and improved performance when generating repositories

HP releases VMware SmartComponents for Insight Control

Very quietly HP has released a product called VMware SmartComponents for Insight Control for vCenter. What is that you may ask? Very good question, as I had no idea either and I try to keep up with HP firmware as much as possible. In short, given the right supported environment, you can now directly execute HP firmware update packages from the ESXi command prompt or by using the Insight Control for vCenter, 7.1.1. Now you no longer have to use the offline method with the HP Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) ISO. You can check out the full PDF description here. For more detailed instructions on how to use Insight Control for vCenter and push firmware updates, read this document.

In short, what you need is:

  • ESXi 5.0 U1 (or later, including 5.1)
  • HP Insight Control for vCenter 7.1.1
  • HP Insight WBEM Providers v 1.3.5 or later
  • HP Agentless Management v9.2.5 or later

If you load HP servers with their custom ISOs, you need version 5.25 or later. Or, if you use stock or older versions, make sure the two updates above have been installed on the server. No need to re-load servers to get the proper baseline.

Included in the SmartComponents package are firmware for System ROM (G7/Gen8), iLO 3/4, SmartArray, and variety of HDs.

You can check out the revamped HP Online Depot (Vibsdepot) here, where there are additional links, release notes, and download links to the SmartComponents bundle. Note that at this time the bundle is not designed to be used with HP SUM, so this is a totally distinct way to update firmware on your ESXi 5.x servers. G6 and older servers seem not to be covered, so you may still need to use the Service Pack for ProLiant to get all of your firmware updated.

Hopefully HP is working on a fully integrated online firmware update method, and integration with HP SUM. So stay tuned and see what HP comes up with to make firmware management even easier.

HP Service Pack for ProLiant supports Windows Server 2012

Just released is the October 2012 HP Service Pack for ProLiant, which has full support for Windows Server 2012. Current support for Windows Server 2012 is focused on G7 and Gen8 servers. G6s and earlier will have limited to no WS2012 support. The 2012.10.0 release has these major changes:

  • Added support for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials
  • Added offline support for HP Diagnostics and Array Configuration Utility (ACU)
  • Modified the user interface when booting a server to the SPP
  • Updated to HP Smart Update Manager 5.3.0
  • Added custom baseline functionality
  • Reports in comma-separated values (CSV) format
  • Linux RPM support
  • Fibre Channel switch firmware update support (B-series and H-series only)
  • Support for HP Integrity I/O card online firmware updates
  • Schedule pull from web repository downloads (not applicable to Fibre Channel switches)
  • Support for 16G Fibre Channel QLogic HBA
  • The ability to use the UNC format to identify file paths

You can download the full set of release notes and documentation here. To download the SSP you can go here. For more information on HP’s Windows Server 2012 support, go here. They also have what appears to be a late breaking supplement for the SPP you can find here.

Update: Find my blog post about the February 2013 HP Service Pack for ProLiant here.

Download Links for HP ESXi Custom ISO Images

Today while trying to download the latest HP customized VMware ESXi Installation I found a download page that I previously wasn’t aware of. It’s a one stop shop for HP ESXi 4.x, 5.0 and 5.1 customized ISO images. The 5.x links point directly to VMware download locations, so you don’t have to go through the HP registration process to get the ISO images. They also have links to the offline bundles and the VIBs depot. A great one stop resource for HP ProLiant customers. Check out the page here.

The latest vSphere 5.x images were released in Sept 2012, so if you are using older installation media, pop over to the site and download the latest. If you want to build a custom HP-ized install media with the latest security patches and bug fixes, follow my blog post here. The post is slightly dated with the driver links, but the concept is the same and you can download the latest drivers yourself to make a replica of the Sept 2012 HP version.

Updated HP Proliant DL and BL Drivers/Firmware

HP has released a new version (2012.08.0) of their “HP Service Pack for ProLiant”, a Sept 2012 revision. For those of you unfamiliar with their packaging changes, this is a consolidated bootable ISO that does both offline and online firmware/driver updates. It really simplifies the updating of HP firmware on ProLiant servers, and is much faster than previous methods. You can review the full release notes here. To download the HP Service Pack for ProLiant, go here.

Directly from the release notes the major changes are:

  • Added support for new HP ProLiant Gen 8 servers and options
    • HP ProLiant BL660c Gen8 Server
    • HP ProLiant DL560 Gen8 Server
    • HP ProLiant WS460c Gen8 Server (offline firmware only)
    • HP Smart Array P721m Controller
    • HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 560SFP+ Adapter
  • Added support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3
  • Added support for VMware vSphere 5.1
  • Updated to HP Smart Update Manager 5.2.0
  • UNC name for repositories on Microsoft Windows® systems
  • HP SUM is also delivered as an RPM package on the Linux SDR
Also hot off the presses is a major update to the HP C-class virtual connect BladeSystem. You can download the 3.70 release here. For the release notes, you can click here. As always with HP firmware updates, I would NOT run out and immediately update your production systems. I would wait a few weeks and monitor the forums to see if anyone has major issues. 
Version 3.70 of Virtual Connect contains support for the following enhancements:
  • Support for new hardware:
    • HP ProLiant BL660c Gen8 Server series
    • HP ProLiant WS460c Gen8 Workstation series
    • HP Virtual Connect Flex-10/10D Module
    • HP 7m C-series Active Copper SFP+ cables (QK701A)
    • HP 10m C-series Active Copper SFP+ cables (QK702A)
    • Cisco 7m copper active Twinax cables (SFP-H10GB-ACU7M)
    • Cisco 10m copper active Twinax cables (SFP-H10GB-ACU10M)
  • Virtual Connect Direct-Attach Fibre Channel for HP P10000 3PAR Storage Systems, HP 3PAR T-Class and F-Class Storage Systems
  • Manageability enhancements:
    • VCM GUI access to telemetry information
    • Advanced telemetry and statistics for Link Aggregation Groups and FlexNICs
    • GUI access to the FC Port Statistics for HP FlexFabric 10Gb/24-port Modules
    • Improvements to the Statistics Throughout display and data collection
    • Display of factory default MACs and WWNs in server profiles
    • Added an FC/FCoE “Connect To” field to help identify how server ports are connected to the uplink ports
    • LLDP enhancements to more easily identify VC Ethernet modules on the network
    • Improvements to the display of the MAC Address table to show the network name and VLAN ID where the MAC address was learned, as well as display of the LAG membership table
  • VCM GUI/CLI task progress activity indicator for predefined VCM operations
  • Security enhancements:
    • Support for 2048 bit SSL certificates and configurable SSL-CSR
    • Activity logging improvements for TACACS+ accounting
    • Option to disable local account access when LDAP, RADIUS, or TACACS+ authentication is enabled
    • Increased the default VCM local user account minimum required password length
    • SNMP access security to prevent access from unauthorized management station
  • SmartLink failover improvements
  • IGMP “NoFlood” option when IGMP snooping is enabled
  • Browser support:
    • Internet Explorer 8 and 9
    • Firefox 10 and 11
  • Firmware upgrade rollback from a previous firmware upgrade without domain deletion
There are also a number of bug fixes, but you can peruse the release notes for all of those gory details.

HP ESXi 5.0 U1 Updated ISO Image

A few days ago VMware released an updated custom HP ISO image for ESXi 5.0 Update 1, which includes all of the HP specific drivers and agents. The big difference between this release and prior HP ESXi 5.0 releases is that you can download them directly from VMware and not from HP’s depot. This should make the process less cumbersome. HP states the ISO image will support G5-Gen8 servers, and it also is devoid of the HP custom license file that has caused problems in the past for some people.

To review the contents of the updated image (June 2012), you can find the version details here. To download the ISO from VMware’s web site, go here. In case you want to build your own HP ESXi 5.0 image with all the latest security patches and drivers, check out my how-to blog article here. The VMware custom ISO is not using the latest build, so for those that are super security conscious and need to load a fully patched image, you will need to refer to my blog article. Otherwise you can of course patch after the fact.

New HP Service Pack for ProLiant (2012.06.0 (B))

Yes, it’s that time of year for HP to release their updated HP Service Pack for ProLiant, which is now up to version 2012.06.0 (B). You can find the 514 page release notes (yes that is not a typo, 514 pages) here. This update includes a number of fixes to SUM (now up to version 5.1),  firmware for a slew of Gen8 servers, firmware updates for other servers, and driver updates for Windows/Linux. As always these support packs have 12 months of support. To download the HP SPP click here. You can find a good documentation matrix here for this and previous versions.

New HP ESXi 4.1 U2 and 5.0 U1 Custom ISO Media

UPDATE 10/26/12: A new blog post with updated links is here.

HP just released their June 2012 VMware ESXi 4.1 U2 and ESXi 5.0 U1 ISO installation media. Nearly every driver in this custom ISO has been updated from the previous release. You can find the entire driver set versions here. HP did NOT roll in the latest security updates, so they are still just shipping ESXi 5.0 build 623860. As of the date of this writing the latest build is 721882, which addresses a number of security issues.

You can download the ESXi 5.0 custom image here and the ESXi 4.1 custom image here. As always, these updates are free to download but you do need to register. If you wish to build your own HP custom ISO with the security patches rolled in, check out my article here. However, use the latest drivers listed in the HP media release notes, not the older versions referenced in my previous blog article.

Give the plethora of driver updates, I would recommend you download the updated drivers from the driver set page here and push them out via VUM to your production servers, after adequate testing.

HP Virtual Connect Firmware Update v3.60

For all of you HP Bladesystem customers, here’s a heads up that HP released v3.60 of their Virtual Connect firmware package. You can download the full Release Notes here. Take note that this release fixes a couple of security issues, so even if the bug fixes don’t apply to you, consider updating to resolve the known security issues. Also, in the list of known issues there is an outstanding unresolved security issue for CVE-2010-4180 that you should be aware of, which is a cipher downgrade attack against OpenSSL. This was discovered 2010, so it’s a bit disappointing that HP can’t fix this in a more timely fashion.

The following issues have been resolved in the VC 3.60 release:

• Resolved an issue where the restore domain operation would fail if any of the storage blades were in
a power-on state.

• Resolved an issue with concurrent server hot-plug that could leave a server disconnected from assigned networks. Applied to servers with Flex-10 or Flex-Fabric ports with assigned profiles.

• Resolved an issue observed on multi-blade servers with a multi-port mezzanine card where HP-UX had an extended boot time and the EFI driver did not attach to the multi-port mezzanine card. This happened when a multi-port mezzanine card had only a single Ethernet connection assigned to a port and the other ports did not have connections assigned.

• Resolved an issue with the HP VC 1/10Gb-F module when using mixed media types (RJ45 and SFP) in an LACP channel, where when the VC module was reset, the channels using SFP did not rejoin either channel.

• Previously, to enable SMIS you also had to enable SNMP. Now SNMP and SMIS can be independently enabled.

• Resolved an issue where the downlinks from some HP servers were shut down by SmartLink during a firmware upgrade.

• Resolved an issue where the CLI did not block restoring a configuration when any of the servers were still powered on.

• Resolved an issue where the VCM GUI did not allow ‘@’ and ‘#’ as part of a VCM user password, but the VCM CLI did not have these restrictions.

• Resolved an issue where VC or VCEM changed the boot order with the FC HBA boot parameters being configured, and the end result was not what was expected.

• Resolved an issue where VCM enabled server ports with no network connections. For example, if a simple server profile had only one Ethernet connection, which mapped to LOM1, then only LOM1
should be enabled. However both LOM1 and LOM2 were enabled.

• Resolved an issue where if a pair of FCoE connections were added or removed from a profile with
sufficient Ethernet network connections to be using subport2, unexpected behavior may have occurred for the subport2.

• Resolved an issue where using the HP BLc Virtual Connect 1Gb RJ-45 Small Form Factor Pluggable Option Kit (Part Number 453154-B21) or HP BLc VC 1Gb SX SFP (Part Number 453151-B21) on a HP VC Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet Module for c-Class BladeSystem caused Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors during normal operation after a period of time, and then the link might go down. This issue only occurred with the HP VC Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet Module. When the link went down, Virtual Connect reported the link as down; however, the link to the external switch was still maintained. This fix resolved the Engineering Advisory c03208179.

• Resolved an issue where OpenSSH used by VC was vulnerable to NIST alerts CVE-2008-5161 and

• Resolved an issue where the Apache HTTP Server used by VC was vulnerable to the NIST alert for
Denial Of Service Vulnerability CVE-2011-3192.