After doing many NetApp Ontap upgrades, there was one thing that made an upgrade last 6 hours more than it should of, and it’s to do with the serial port and service processor

NetApp makes Ontap upgrades extremely simple by uploading the update package into the webui, and hitting next a few times to begin the process. However, there is still some background work that needs to be done before beginning the upgrade

NetApp Ontap Upgrade Prep

Firstly you need to generate an upgrade advisor report from ActiveIQ, in which a PDF gets emailed to you with a list of checks and steps that you need to take into consideration prior to the upgrade. The report details the steps to perform the upgrade in the correct sequence and can even include the revert steps if selected during ActiveIQ report generation.

NetApp Ontap Upgrade

Secondly, read the release notes and the upgrade/downgrade guide of the Ontap release you will be upgrading to. There is a tonne of information in these guides. They illustrate new features, patches, changes, etc that you need to be aware of before upgrading.

NetApp Ontap Upgrade

Reboot the service processors to give them a fresh start. This is important, especially if a service processor upgrade is on the cards along with the Ontap upgrade.

Quiesce all your snapmirrors from the destination cluster so there are no transfers during the Ontap upgrade.

Make sure your Disk Qualification packages are up to date on each node.

NetApp Ontap Upgrade

Check storage failover is set to true (::> storage failover show), along with cluster health (::> cluster show). Lastly, check the cluster ring status that all modules are in sync (1. ::> set adv, 2. ::> cluster ring show)

NetApp Ontap Upgrade Service Processor checks

While rebooting the service processor is a good practice prior to the upgrade, there is one more step you should check.

Log into the service processor and type: ::> sp uptime. If you’ve just rebooted the service processor, the uptime will be low, however, this is not only what we’re looking at here. Take a look at the ‘load average’ and ensure they are around 1.xx

NetApp Ontap Upgrade

If you are seeing the load average close to 5.xx, this could mean you have a serial baud rate mismatch to a potential console switch. For example, trying to use 9800 on a 115200 service-processor port. You can use this NetApp KB article to check the correct baud rates for your model

If the service processor load is high during an upgrade, it will cause the node that reboots to hang during the upgrade. At this point, you will need to engage NetApp support to help you manually fix it up, and this process usually takes hours to work around. Always check the service-processor load before starting an ontap upgrade!

NetApp Ontap Upgrade Conclusion

Apart from what I’ve highlighted above, the upgrade process is automated and simple to perform. Each node is upgraded 1 at a time, and an estimated time to completion is displayed along with elapsed time.

Perform the checks I’ve listed above and you will have a smooth upgrade experience.