HP has updated their framework for BladeSystem firmware and driver releases through a consolidated Service Pack for Proliant. See this post for more information.
HP added the idea of release sets for Bladesystem firmware starting in January. On a conference call yesterday, we were alerted to the new release set certification process. Previously, HP had been releasing firmware for the Bladesystem as components and firmware were updated, which they still do, but the idea of a release set adds an additional cross-testing process to ensure that firmware from each component works together correctly. There was no publicly disclosed certification process prior to January.
To quote the HP engineer on the call — there were just too many combinations and possibilities to be able to certify all available firmwares — and so the idea of a release set began in January. The release sets are available in a compatibility matrix on the HP Bladesystem page (http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/c-class.html) — look at the Compatibility tab.
The good news is that in our environment, we are close to compliance with the January release set. The only thing out of compliance for the January release is our blade ROM, PMC and iLO firmware, but, as we were also informed, this is not a good situation to be in.
Something I already knew is that we have a bottom-up firmware topology for the HP Bladesystem — meaning that we have to update the bottom level components first and then move up. I knew this applied to the interconnects and onboard administrator modules, but it also extends to blade servers also. In addition, the blade servers are at the lowest level and should be updated first — particularly the iLO.
The reason for this is that new OA and interconnect firmware may introduce features and if the PMC or iLO is not aware of these features due to out-dated firmware, erroneous might be passed and all sorts of things could happen — at worst, random server reboots.
iLO firmware 1.81 is particularly susceptible to the random reboot for Windows blades. If you are running 1.81 and have Windows OS loaded, you should upgrade to 1.82 as soon as possible. See http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?locale=en_US&objectID=c01802766 for more information. Other OSes – Linux, VMware, XenServer – are not affected.