Considerations when upgrading ESXi on Cisco UCS Blades

We’re using Cisco UCS B200 M4 blades with the 3.2(3j)B firmware. We’re running ESXi, 6.7.0, 10302608 on the blades and we’re looking to use VUM to patch the blades to the latest version of ESXi. I’ve been doing some reading on the subject, and it appears that there may be some issues with the fnic (or nenic) drivers that may prevent a successful patch.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Should I download the latest fnic and nenic drivers and manually install them before using VUM to patch? This is my first time patching UCS blades so I want to make sure I’ve covered my bases.

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  1. Yes. Make sure to look at the Cisco compatibility matrix for the ESX version you are wanting to upgrade to and make sure the blade drivers for fnic/enic are compatible with that version. If you upgrade the blades, you’ll likely have to upgrade the chassis software first.

    When I upgraded us from 6.0 to 6.5 I had to update the Chassis software (UCS Manager) and then upgrade the drivers on each blade. Took about 4 hours for the chassis and 8 blades.

    Not sure if I can post the link. Just Google “vmware ucs matrix” and you should get the link to the matrix.

    And make sure to read the known issues in the release notes. You might not want the latest release if it reports issues that might bite you. I upgraded us to a version 3 or 4 back from the latest at the time because of reported issues with the newer versions.

  2. You should be referring to the HCL to make sure you’re installing a supported version for your hardware, first. If that’s good, then the HCL should tell you which drivers go with which firmware. If there are known issues with the drivers, then you may want to wait until the next patch unless you have a specific reason to upgrade. If that’s the case, you will then have to make a judgements call on risk vs reward.

    Also, I suggest learning how to use the CLI in ESX for upgrades. It’s SO much faster than Update Manager and won’t knock your host out of maintenance mode randomly after a reboot like VUM (unless they finally fixed that issue?)

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