ONTAP Discussions

Best Practices for updates such as firmware and OS


Hello, Im a little new to NetApp and want to know what are some of the best practices when it comes to upgrading software and firmware.

Such as what are other admins upgrading and how often?  

We have 2 Controllers



We have 6 Shelves of disks


We recently upgraded from OnTap 8.1.4 7-mode to 8.2.3 7-mode.  We needed to do this becuase of some issues and bug fix's.  This got me wondering how often do other admins upgrade there OS with Netapp.  Is it "if its not broke, dont fix" kind of thing, or are there security concerns that you should try and be on the latest release or close to it.


Also what other things are typically upgraded, there seems to be Shelf Firmware and Disk Firmware.  Is Ontap OS, Shelf and Disk Firmware all i should be concerned about or is there more?  


The next step will be figuring out how to tell what firmware im on and how to upgrade.  Will be looking into that next

Thanks for any opinions




We have a very large netapp 7-mode footprint.


We do quarterly firmware (shelf/disk) and we do yearly ontap upgrades unless we bit a bug.


I have just had a NetApp consultant in recently and one of the topics was firmware as we are also running on an older version and it hasn't been updated since it was commissioned.


He suggested to use the Upgrade advisor on the NetApp autosupport page ( I believe you need to have active support t use this) and this will compile a report to show you step by step exactly how to proceed with the firmware. I have recently run these reports on our environment and can confirm they are excellent resources and do take a lot of concerns out of the upgrade process.


He did also suggest that we perform disk and shelf/ACP firmware first and then do ONTAP upgrades once these components are done.


I wanted to ask how easy it is to upgrade from 7 to cDOT and that isn't as simple. If your primary storage is the NetApp and you have no other storage it is a problem as you need to completely start afresh when going to cDOT its not like a smooth migration at all and your data will be lost. In our case we dont have any other storage suitable enough to store elsewhere so we going to look at possibly loaning some swing kit from our NetApp reseller to do a cDOT migration at a later date. This I assume will have some costs assocaited to it but we wait and see.


Hope that helps.


There is no such thing as upgrading from 7-mode to cDOT.  This has to be done with new equipment and a migration tool or some form of migration.


Before you perform any upgrade you need to run upgrade advisor as it will walk you through your steps you need to complete it.


I recommend performing shelf/disk firmware quarterly.




Thanks for the responses.  We used the Upgrade Advisor to upgrade our ontap from 8.2 to 8.2.  Worked out well.  The disk Shelf firmware was done as part of the upgrade automatically.  Afterwards we upgraded the disk firmware which was easy. 


I like the idea of what you suggested wtih doing the shleves and disks quarterly and will probably do that going foward. 


Another thing im seeing on there web page is stuff for RLM Firmware and System Firware such as Service Image and Service Processor image.  Is this stuff that should be updated regualry or only stuff when you need to fix a bug/problem.  Not sure if these things were part of the Ontap Upgrade, will need to look into these


Thanks again for the replies




Sorry upgrade was 8.1 to 8.2.3


You should keep your SP up-to-date as well.


Since you upgraded to 8.2.3, this is the first release that Netapp fixed the smb 2.1 bugs that have been plaguing them for years.


If you are a CIFS shop, you can use the new command "cifs control" to turn on smb 2.1.




Not sure if these things were part of the Ontap Upgrade

They are. Current Data ONTAP (8.2.3 definitely does it) automatically initiates upgrade of SP firmware to included version.


We also have a large footprint.  We do high-risk (i.e. potential outage or data loss) firmware updates as soon as we are made aware (can be monthly based on when they are released) and do routine upgrades annually.  If we do run into bugs (such as the CIFS issues others mentioned) we'll do updates in between.  BIOS, shelf and HBA firmware we typically roll with the version of ONTAP automatically, again unless a newer version is released that is deemed high risk.  MyAutoSupport is definitely a great resource for planning these upgrades, but we've found the "risks" lists it generates to garbage - we have a Support Account Manager (SAM) who helps us weed through these to locate the real ones (this is a paid service, and provides other benefits like case escalation and followup).  With a single 3240 pair, you should be able to read through these on a regular basis (I'd suggest monthly to start) and keep up with them.  Oh, and SP firmware is typically NOT included with ONTAP updates and in some cases is required so pay close attention to the compatibility lists to be sure you keep them in sync. 


Also, if you happen to use other NetApp software (SnapDrive, SnapManager for X, DSM, OnCommand XYZ) also make sure you watch the Interop Matrix when doing upgrades to keep them in sync with the ONTAP version you are running.


One last note - ONTAP 8.2 is the last major version that will be released for 7-mode, 8.3+ will all be Clustered Data ONTAP so you'll probably want to at least lay out what it will take to upgrade in the future, whether this means tying it to a hwarde refresh or using the loaner equipment also mentioned here.  The 7-mode transition tool is pretty good, but it will require maintenance windows for the cutovers so plan accordingly.  We're working to migrate all our core 7-mode to cDOT actively, but suspect 7-mode will live in our remote offices for some time since there is no direct upgrade path.




I perform transition consulting for NetApp and I wanted to clear up a few points about upgrades to clustered Data ONTAP and I'll of course give you my input on firmware updates from being a field consultant at NetApp going on 7 years. 


In terms of holistically managing your NetApp storage environment, the NetApp Support team has put together many of the best practices and tools for this purpose on a site called Customer Fitness.  Here is the quick reference guide which may have some new things you have not seen yet:  Customer Fitness Quick Reference .  The link to the main customer fitness site is at the bottom of the guide.  


Firmware updates for disks or shelves should be applied soon after their release because of their high risk profile.  You can check the status of your firmware and whether firmware upgrades are recommended by using the Health Summary feature on MyAutosupport, right next to Upgrade Advisor as you've previously used. 




Data ONTAP upgrades can be applied less frequently depending on your exposure to bugs or tolerance for security vulnerabilities.  While the General Availablity (GA) releases of Data ONTAP are very stable such as clustered Data ONTAP 8.3, the best practice is to apply the latest Patch release.  If NetApp strongly recommends a patch release over the GA version, it will be directly linked when attempting to download the GA release.  For example when downloading 8.2.3, it re-directs you automatically to 8.2.3P3.   If no P-release is directly indicated, you can search for newer patch releases by also using the 'Access the specific version' section at the bottom of the download page:  http://mysupport.netapp.com/NOW/cgi-bin/software/ 




When performing a Data ONTAP upgrade of a SAN environment, it is a best practice to check the Interoperability Comptability Matrix at http://support.netapp.com/matrix to validate whether your SAN clients require an MPIO upgrade or HBA driver upgrade to remain within fully tested boundaries. 


Finally to address the comments about Data ONTAP upgrades of 7-mode 8.2.x to clustered Data ONTAP 8.3, it is true that you cannot perform the upgrade as if you were doing 7-mode 8.2.1 to 7-Mode 8.2.3 with a storage failover and a reboot.  This type of infrastructure upgrade has significant benefits compared to a traditional 7-mode Data ONTAP upgrade, benefits such as new non-disruptive upgrade capabilities, transparant workload mobility between nodes of a cluster, and new feature sets like SMB3 and vVols for VMware.  


To perform the upgrade to clustered Data ONTAP the source data would be migrated to a new controller pair that is acquired to replace the existing system, usually done instead of renewing your support contract.  Alternatively if the source 7-mode system is less than a few years old we can also rent a temporary system to perform the migration, and convert your existing system such as a FAS3240 into clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 and join it to the temporary system as one big storage cluster.  Then the data is transparently moved back to your FAS3240 and the temporary system is returned to NetApp.  Partners and your NetApp account team can provide information on how to acquire these temporary systems sometimes referred to as Swing Gear.   Yes - there will be a disruptive cutover when performing the migration from 8.2 7-Mode to 8.3 clustered, but that would be also have been the case when performing an upgrade of a FAS3240 in 7-mode to a FAS8040 in 7-mode.  The good news is if you are going to do the upgrade to a FAS8040 in 8.3 cDOT, the new scale-out and non-disruptive technologies of clustered Data ONTAP makes future infrastructure upgrades seamless, like when we go to a FAS90x0 or whatever the next platform is. 


The 7-Mode Transition Tool is used to perform the migration work and it automates much of the heavy lifting when performing the transition.  It looks at how the 7-mode system is configured and applies much of the same configuration to your destination storage cluster, configuration items such as name services (NIS server or CIFS tunables), shares/exports and custom share properties, even source IP addresses can be migrated by the tool in order to make the migration to clustered Data ONTAP smoother.  7MTT is unique compared to other migration tools as it reduces risk thanks to this high level of end-to-end automation.

Hopefully I've addressed much of the open issues on the thread, if yes please hit the kudos and/or mark as Answered 😃




Thank you for that detailed response Hadrian, that was very useful!