As anyone who has worked as an IT Infrastructure administrator knows, software and firmware upgrades can be complex and time consuming, yet are essential to keep infrastructures healthy and optimized. Today, Nutanix launched its latest release of Life Cycle Manager (LCM), delivering 1-click, non-disruptive infrastructure upgrades for Nutanix environments.
Infrastructure software and firmware are too often patched only when there are known issues in the environment. However, even when everything appears to be functioning properly, there are business-critical reasons to keep them kept up-to-date. Applying updates improve overall infrastructure health and reliability, also providing coverage for:
- Security vulnerabilities
- Product support and compliance reasons
New product capabilities and performance improvements that come from continuous software innovation provides some of the most compelling reasons to keep infrastructure up-to-date. These enhancements enable organizations to derive greater value from their infrastructures over time. Several examples of product enhancements that Nutanix has delivered to customers include higher performance core data path architectures, better security via microsegmentation, and native volume and object-based storage to eliminate independently-managed storage silos.
Enhancements are possible due to Nutanix’s software-defined architecture, which combined with Nutanix’s 1-click philosophy, makes it easy for organizations to keep their infrastructure software versions current.
The 1-click upgrade feature natively built into Prism dates back to 2014, and has been delivering a simple way to upgrade AOS, AHV (our native hypervisor), file services, and NX appliance BIOS - all directly from within Prism.
As the variety of supported Nutanix hardware platforms and software products increased, however, it became necessary to create a new architecture designed for the growing number of infrastructure components that need to be kept up-to-date. Life Cycle Manager is the new decoupled upgrade solution based on a modularized architecture for the entire Nutanix stack, with support for:
- Multiple entity (software and firmware) upgrades in the 1-click process
- Firmware upgrades across multiple OEM platform vendors (BIOS, BMC, HBA, SSD, HDD, and more)
- Upgrade dependency management from the underlying AOS version
LCM’s architecture differentiates from Prism 1-click upgrades by separating the orchestration and upgrade module (plugin) layers, and is combined with a comprehensive software development kit (SDK) to enable Nutanix technology partners to create and release plugins for their products more quickly.
This approach to firmware upgrades also enables a common process for all supported hardware vendor platforms, creating a simpler, unified upgrade process for organizations.
Above: Nutanix provides comprehensive software and firmware upgrades across multiple hardware platforms
This latest LCM 2.3.2 brings more Nutanix software and platform firmware together under LCM, including:
- AOS upgrade support in Prism Element
- Upgrading Prism Central from within Prism Central LCM
- Additional firmware updates and component support for Nutanix NX, Dell XC, and Fujitsu XF platforms
- Improved self-help animations within the UI
A Simpler Upgrade Process
LCM makes sure that its inventory of latest software and firmware updates are current. Once an upgrade is initiated, LCM first runs pre-checks against the target infrastructure to identify and manage potential issues that may hinder upgrades. This provides an opportunity for IT administrators to remediate potential issues prior to starting the upgrade process.
IT administrators can select what they want to update, which can be anything from a single firmware entity on one host, to all firmware across all nodes in a cluster.
Above: A selection of LCM firmware entities in Prism Element
Dependency management when upgrading multi-layered infrastructure stacks has long been a challenge for organizations, and is typically very time consuming - requiring careful planning by multiple IT teams. This entails understanding the compatibility matrix for software and firmware versions in the stack, and ensuring that any entities to be upgraded are compatible. If upgrading one entity type requires an upgrade of another, these need to be completed in the correct sequence.
LCM takes this management burden away from IT teams by significantly simplifying the overall process with a single-click and upgrading all components in the stack in the correct order. This also avoids starting upgrades that would otherwise fail due to known incompatibilities.
During the upgrade process, LCM will evacuate hosts of any running VMs as required. By moving them to other hosts in the cluster, they remain operational and don’t incur any downtime. Batch processed upgrades increase LCM’s efficiency by applying multiple patches to a single host at the same time, minimizing upgrade steps and shortening its duration, while also reducing any required service restarts and host reboots.
Only once a host upgrade is complete and confirmed by LCM will the process repeat for each subsequent host in the cluster (based on the nodes selected).
Nutanix support documentation recommends using LCM for upgrades when applicable, and with the with the recent announcement of a new predictive health and support automation service by Nutanix, named Insights, IT teams may receive similar recommendations to use LCM for software or firmware upgrades to resolve known component shortcomings.
Above: A proactive Insights Recommendation to upgrade a node BIOS & BMC via LCM.
To learn more on how Nutanix LCM can help simplify infrastructure upgrades, visit www.nutanix.com/products/life-cycle-manager. You can take our software for a free cloud-based test drive, follow us on Twitter @nutanix, or send us a request at https://www.nutanix.com/demo to set up your own customized briefing.
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