Home > Dell, Hardware, IDRAC, Lifecycle Controller > HOWTO: Using Dell iDRAC 7 Lifecycle Controller 2 to update Dell PowerEdge R420, R620, and R720 servers

HOWTO: Using Dell iDRAC 7 Lifecycle Controller 2 to update Dell PowerEdge R420, R620, and R720 servers

Newer Dell Servers have an option as part of their iDRAC v7 (Dell Remote Assistance Controller) to include a “Lifecycle Controller” v2.  This feature can be utilized to provide updates to all firmware on a Dell server with minimal stress and interaction.  However – with a non v1.3.0.x Lifecycle Controller firmware, there is no ability to set a VLAN on the NIC’s. These NIC’s are the LOM (LAN Onboard Modules), and in my vSphere environment, these are trunked from the switch to allow VLAN tagging at the host. So when you reboot to the LCC, with no VLAN tagging option, you’re going to find that the “Update via FTP/Network Share” option to not work as well as you might hope. Whether you might be doing this manually/interactively, or via the Dell vSphere Open Manage Integration plug-in, it’s going to require you to fix this first.

This will guide you through the process of doing an ISO based LCC update of all current updates. After that, you’ll be able to do your next round via network – which I’ll cover in another post.

Prerequisites/Assumptions:

1) You have acquired the latest “Q# Server Update Utility DVD ISO” – currently (as of March 11 2014) v7.4 dated 2/1/2014 – http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/19/DriverDetails/Product/poweredge-r720?driverId=4V8PP&osCode=WS8R2&fileId=3338639762&languageCode=en&categoryId=SM

NOTE: if you do NOT have this ISO, expect it to take 3-4 hours to download even at 500KB/sec, as it is 8.4GB in size

2) You will NOT be using Network based Lifecycle Controller updates with a central FTP or SMB based share, and you will NOT be using Dell Repository Manager to create said repository, but using the above SUU media.

3) The existing iDRAC on the ESXi host in question is functioning normally – allowing both Remote Console and Virtual Media

4) You are able to place the ESXi host(s) into maintenance – either with zero downtime with DRS in a cluster or in a maintenance window for a standalone host (as you will be rebooting the host, so no VM’s or host operations can occur during the update)

Process:

1) Place the host in Maintenance Mode in vSphere and evacuate all VM’s.  Manually resolve any VM migration issues as required.

2) Connect to the iDRAC while the host is entering Maintenance Mode and Launch the Virtual Console.

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3) From the Virtual Console, change NEXT BOOT to LIFECYCLE CONTRLLER:

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4) From the Virtual Console, click on VIRTUAL MEDIA -> LAUNCH VIRTUAL MEDIA:

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5) Click ADD IMAGE, and locate your downloaded ISO:

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Check the box for MAPPED to ensure the ISO is mapped to the host

6) By now, your ESXi host should be in maintenance mode.  If so, right click and reboot the host.

7) When the server reboots, it will boot automatically into the Lifecycle Controller, likely to the Network Setup screen:

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Note that while you can pick any of the add-in or onboard NIC’s, you are not able to select the iDRAC NIC and/or are you able to specify VLAN ID.  As our vSphere facing ports are all Trunked and require VLAN tag’s, this prevents us from using network based lifecycle updates.  It is likely that this oversight is corrected in an updated version of the Lifecycle Controller.  If so, documentation will be updated to reflect this.  Click CANCEL to exit the Lifecycle Controller Network Setup.

8) From the Lifecycle Controller 2 HOME screen, click FIRMWARE UPDATE:

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9) Choose LAUNCH FIRMWARE UPDATE:

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10) On Step 1 of 3, choose LOCAL DRIVE (CD or DVD or USB):

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Click NEXT.

11) On Step 2 of 3, choose the local (VIRTUAL CD) drive:

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Click NEXT.

12) Wait while it VERIFIES SELECTION:

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13) You will now see a list of updates for items that are present and available.  This will display both their current and available versions. 

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I would recommend installation of ALL available updates to the most current version.  Note that it indicates “System will reboot after selected updates are applied”.   What is convenient about this is we chose the “Next Boot” option to get into the Lifecycle Controller, thus when it reboots, it should reboot normally back into ESXi.   Click APPLY.

14) You will then see it copying the updates to the local flash so it can perform the updates without the Virtual Media.

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The next screen shows the AUTOMATED TASK APPLICATION, which shows the progress of the update(s).

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Note that prior to the completion of all updates, the system automatically rebooted.  Likely due to update of the Lifecycle Controller itself.  It then automatically selected “ENTERING LIFECYCLE CONTROLLER” as shown, to continue the update process.

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And the remaining updates continued as expected…

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Understandably, I was surprised to see the system eventually restart back into the Lifecycle Controller. 

15) If you now rescan for FIRMWARE UPDATES from the Virtual Media ISO, you should see that Current matches Available and all components are unchecked as they do not require updates. 

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This confirms that we are largely done with the update process.

16) Return to the main menu and enter SETTINGS -> NETWORK SETTINGS:

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You will now note that there is a VLAN setting.  This will allow us to utilize the network vs Virtual Media to perform later updates.  Equally, as the Lifecycle Controller can then be network reached, this update process can largely be updated via the Dell vSphere vCenter Server Integration tools and/or Dell Open Manage Express server. 

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You should see this screen if the VLAN/DHCP settings worked as expected. 

As this HOWTO is intended to cover performing the updates via Virtual Media ISO, this is where we will stop for now.  A later document will cover how to use network based Lifecycle Controller updates as well as automation with Dell Open Manage Essentials (DOME).  Reboot the server and verify it boots as normally intended.

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Press ESC and then YES to Exit and Reboot.

Sometime soon, I’ll post how to create a Dell SUU network repository, and then how to perform a LCC controller update interactively using said network location.

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  1. April 4, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    Nice. It’s always bugged me there was no VLAN option in LCC. I didn’t realise they finally fixed it.

    Looking forward to seeing more articles on this topic.

    Recently I went to a Dell presentation for 30 customers, and only 3 were aware of, and tried OME. All said they didn’t get very far with it. So plenty of people will find these topics useful.

    • April 4, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Yeah, it took me a bit. I was sure I’d seen it before, but then figured maybe it was just that I always did the SUU before putting the host into production and configuring the NIC/Switch. So I just pushed ahead, as I needed it done. After the update, the VLAN option was there, and I was happy.

      People need to know more about Dell. IBM wants hardware keys for everything and is expensive. HP isn’t much better, with needing a service contract to even download firmware updates. Dell just makes almost all of it free. It’s why I use it in my home lab and why many companies I know run far longer than they should, but get more mileage out of it.

      Things like OME, vCenter Integration, SUU, Dell Repository Builder, RACadm, all are things most customers aren’t getting to by just ‘putting the box in and walking away’. There’s a lot of good features out there to leverage.

  1. September 29, 2014 at 7:01 AM

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