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Upgrade Advisor enhanced with better advice and more concise upgrade plans

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As of January 2024, there is a new Upgrade Advisor in NetApp’s Active IQ Digital Advisor and BlueXP Digital Advisor. This new experience simplifies upgrade planning and shortens upgrade times by having fewer steps. This new experience replaced the older Upgrade Advisor, and this blog should explain how to use it with explanatory screenshots. This blog will cover the new features as they are encountered. 

 

To get to it, click on the available ONTAP upgrades on the right side of the main dashboard shown below. 

 

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This takes you to the cluster selection screen as shown below.  

 

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If you want to get back to the old experience, you can toggle it at the top of the screen. Also, please note that upgrades can be planned well before you perform them. It gives you time to resolve upgrade blockers and warnings which I will be describing later. 

 

 

Upgrade planning is now done at the cluster level, not the node level, since it is not supported to upgrade some nodes of a cluster and leave the others at the earlier version. So, the items in the above screenshot are the clusters. This simplifies the selection process and shortens the resulting plan.  

 

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If some clusters have an error condition not allowing them to plan an upgrade, it will be shown as “Resolve Issue” in the right column. Let’s see an example. 

 

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This system has not sent an AutoSupport in the last 30 days. A weekly or manual AutoSupport is needed to properly plan an upgrade. There is a link to documentation to help you configure and enable AutoSupport and there’s a link to where you can manually upload one.  

 

Another possible reason you would be unable to plan an upgrade is a cluster which has different ONTAP versions on its nodes. 

 

 

There are two main ways to use the cluster selection screen. You can select more than one cluster to do bulk upgrade planning. If you do this, it takes you directly to the plan generation page which I will show you later.  

 

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If you select only 1 cluster or click “view upgrade recommendations” then it will go to the recommendations page, which is where a lot of the enhancements to the process have occurred.  

 

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Let’s look at it. 

 

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The first choice you need to make is what version of ONTAP you’d like to upgrade to. There’s always a choice for the latest patch of the version you are currently on. Then there’s always a choice for the latest recommended release as determined by NetApp. This is different from the latest version. This is the version that NetApp feels reached maturity based on real data from other customers running it and any issues they see. The last selection area allows you to select any version of ONTAP and any patch level. 

 

You may notice that there are tabs below. Let’s take a closer look at those. 

 

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The first tab is our risk advisor. It shows which risks you currently have, which will be fixed after upgrading to the proposed ONTAP release (as selected above). It also shows which will not be fixed and a great new feature showing which risks will be introduced. NetApp strives to make every release bug free, but as we know with any software, that doesn’t always happen. This risk advisor gives you the information you need to make informed choices about your proposed upgrade. 

 

Clicking on any of the risk categories will give you the details.  

 

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This information is the same as you see in the Wellness area of Active IQ Digital Advisor. 

 

Now let’s look at the next tab: pre-upgrade check.  

 

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This tab shows any issues which could affect your upgrade. They are separated into upgrade blockers and upgrade warnings. Upgrade blockers are issues or risks that NetApp feels must be fixed before doing any ONTAP upgrade. In this case, a shelf firmware update is needed BEFORE you start the upgrade process to avoid a known issue during the upgrade. 

 

The upgrade warnings are issues that are a problem or a piece of needed information, but don’t rise to the level of stopping you from doing an ONTAP upgrade. The best practice would be to resolve them before the upgrade if possible. Sometimes no action is needed, for example the warning about NFS v4 being in use and warning you about clients disconnecting and then reconnecting during the upgrade. There’s no action needed for that – it is just informational. 

 

These tables will also appear in the final report. 

 

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The last tab shows something like the release notes for the version of ONTAP you are upgrading to. Remember that a key feature of continuously keeping a support contract with NetApp is that you get all the added capabilities of the new ONTAP versions without having to pay more for them. 

 

Once you are ready, click “Generate Upgrade plan” on the upper right side of the screen. 

 

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This dialog is very similar to the dialog previously. Please use the “Automated Non-disruptive Upgrade”, often shortened to ANDU, if possible, for two main reasons. First, it reduces the number of steps and downtime needed to upgrade ONTAP. Second, that is the report where all the new features of this simplified planning are output. The other methods use the old output. The ANDU plans with the new simplification of this planning process are as much as 80% fewer steps than they were previously. It also includes all the features mentioned earlier such as upgrade blockers and warnings in tables. 

 

Plans can be generated in PDF or Excel format. 

 

When you generate a plan, it puts it on the standard reporting page in Active IQ Digital Advisor and it also Emails you a link. 

 

Let’s look at what the new upgrade plans look like. I’ll use Excel for my example. 

 

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There’s a cover page and an index. There’s a page for the details of the cluster or clusters.  

 

Next comes the risk summary which shows the risks that will be present after the upgrade happens to allow you to address them shown below.  

 

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The next page is called “pre-upgrade check” and it contains the upgrade blockers and warnings similar to the GUI I showed earlier. Again, the blockers will need to be resolved or ONTAP will not allow you to proceed with the upgrade.  

 

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Next is the upgrade plan itself. It is a step-by-step guide for you to follow to complete your upgrade. It includes steps to perform the upgrade in the System Manager GUI and the ONTAP CLI.  

 

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The last page is a backout plan which is usually the same as the upgrade steps but with your original image.  

 

In summary, the new Active IQ Digital Advisor Upgrade Advisor experience helps you to decide what to upgrade, to what version, and then gives you much shorter step-by-step plans how to do it. It’s invaluable when you need to keep your system up to date and secure. 

 

Let us know what you think one of three ways. You can comment below, you can send feedback inside Active IQ Digital Advisor, or you can Email ng-activeiq-feedback@netapp.com . 

 

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