Improve Cluster Reliability by Upgrading Firmware

NOTE: This topic is part of the Uptime Information Hub.


Keeping node and drive firmware up to date enables you to take advantage of new features and functionality, and provides the important benefit of improved reliability to your cluster.


To stay current with the most recent recommend versions of firmware, it is important to perform regular firmware upgrades. This is similar to performing preventive maintenance on your car. Even if your car runs normally, a routine oil change or brake check can help to ensure that it continues to run well. Routine maintenance checks also help to spot and fix issues before they become significant problems. For example, upgrading drive firmware can greatly reduce the number of hardware-related issues such as drive stalls, slow drive performance, and premature drive failures.


Node firmware upgrades include software updates for hardware components such as disk controllers, expanders, and front panels. Drive firmware upgrades include software updates for disks. Scheduling a maintenance window to perform these upgrades is recommended because nodes must be rebooted when their firmware is upgraded. EMC Isilon is investigating ways to make some of these upgrades less disruptive in futures versions of Isilon OneFS.

When to upgrade firmware


EMC Isilon releases new firmware packages approximately twice a year. When a third-party manufacturer releases a firmware update for a component in an Isilon node, Isilon engineers evaluate and qualify the new firmware for use with Isilon hardware and software, and then bundle all the newly available firmware upgrades together into a single release package. This package is then made available for download on the EMC Online Support site.


One of the recommendations included in the Isilon Cluster Preventative Maintenance Checklist is to routinely check the EMC Online Support site for new versions of node and disk firmware. Current firmware package releases are also listed in the Uptime Bulletin and Current Isilon Software Releases, which are available on the EMC Online Support site.

How to upgrade firmware


The first step in the firmware upgrade process is to read the firmware package release notes, which are available on the EMC Online Support site. The release notes will inform you about whether your current firmware is compatible with the firmware upgrades included in the package. Refer to the “Support Platform” section of the release notes to locate version numbers of supported drives and platforms. The release notes also contain instructions for installing an upgrade package or a support patch (if required).


If you need help identifying firmware versions or need assistance during the upgrade process, contact EMC Isilon Technical Support. They can provide you with guidance about the appropriate firmware upgrade package or patch to install, and help to ensure that the process goes smoothly.