UCS Manager 2.2 (El Capitan) Released

Last week saw the latest major update to UCS Manager in the form of version 2.2 codenamed “El Capitan”

It certainly doesn’t seem a year since I wrote the summary for the then eagily awaited 2.1 “Delmar” release” but I guess time really does fly when your having fun!

UCSM 2.2 will be the last Major version to include support for Generation 1 hardware. 6100 FI’s, 2104 IOM, M1 Servers and M1 Only Adapters. As such it is expected to be a long-lived release, so expect patches and major bug fixes for approximatley 12 months longer than normal major releases (Circa 4 years).

Remember that  Cisco offer the “UCS Advantage Trade in program” which provides an easy path in which to upgrade Generation 1 hardware to the latest versions.

USCM 2.2 Features Overview

UCSM 2.2 Features

UCSM 2.2 Features

Fabric Enhancements

  • Fabric Scaling:
    As you may expect UCSM 2.2 supports more of most things VLANs, VIFs, IGMP Groups, Adapter Endpoints (Physical network adapters across all servers in the UCS domain) This is possible since UCSM 2.2 syncs to an updated underlying NxOS code. Up until now I have never done a design constrained by any of the above, but more is always better right? :-)The table below shows the config maximums for UCSM 2.2 and previous releases.

Fabric Maximums

  • IPv6 Management Support:
    All 3 IP addresses  (2 physical and 1 cluster) are now able to have IPv6 addresses as are the new CIMC “in band” addresses. Services such as NTP, DNS are also reachable via IPv6.
  • Uni-Directional Link Detection (UDLD) Support:
    Rapidly detects and optionally disables/resets broken bidirectional links. We’ve had this for a long time in Nexus and now its an option on the Fabric Interconnects. And can be enabled either via a global or per port policy.
  • User Space NIC (usNIC) for Low Latency:
    Designed for High Performance Compute (HPC) applications that require low latentcy fabric and host adapters. usNIC allows latency sensitive MPI (Message-Passing Interface) applications running on bare-metal host OSes to bypass the kernel (Supported on 6200 with “Sereno” based adapters only VIC1240, VIC1280, VIC1225).
  • Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ) Support:
    Enables support for MS Windows VMQs on the Cisco UCS VIC adapter and Improves VM I/O performance in cases where VM-FEX cannot be used for I/O acceleration..

Operational Enhancements

  • Direct Connect C-Series To FI without FEX:
    Probably one of the biggest enhancements for me this one, and one Cisco have been gradually working towards. With UCSM 2.2 It is now possible to directly connect a C-Series Rackmount to the Fabric Interconnect by a single cable without the need for a 2232PP FEX.  You still have the option of using an extenal FEX which would still be the way to go for a solution with a larger number of integrated C-Series as there will come a point where several 1:1 FI/Port Licences to C-Series will be less cost effective than just buying the 2232PP FEX. But for an environment with just 1 or 2 the “No FEX” option is a clear winner.
C-Series no FEX Option

C-Series no FEX Option

  • Two-Factor Authentication for UCS Manager Logins:
    This is one to make the Security Admin happy. Support for strengthened UCSM authentication (requiring second factor of authentication after the username + password) such as RSA Secure ID, or Symantec VIP Enterprise Gateway.
  • VM-FEX for Hyper-V Mgmt with Microsoft SCVMM:
    VM-FEX Support on Hyper-V hosts was added in UCSM 2.1, but it lacked a centralized VM Network management (SCVMM integration) A Cisco provider plugin gets installed into SCVMM, fetches all network definitions from UCSM and periodically polls for configuration updates.
VM-FEX Hyper-V SCVMM

VM-FEX Hyper-V SCVMM

  • CIMC In-band Management:

If you have ever been a bit frustrated that loading a huge bare metal ISO to a CIMC took a while as you had to go via the 1Gbs FI MGMT port then this should make you happier. With UCSM 2.2 it is now possible to optionally access the CIMC of M3 blades over the same in band network as the data path giving access to all those those lovley 10Gb uplinks. You may also have a requirement to seperate UCSM Management traffic from CIMC Management traffic well now you can. CIMC Out of band is the same as it was you just have the option of connecting to either the In Band or Out of Band CIMC Address. CIMC In-band access supports KVM console, vMedia & Serial over LAN (SoL)

In-band CIMC

In-band CIMC

  • Server Firmware Auto Sync:
    Server Firmware can now be automatically synchronized and updated to the version configured in the new ‘Default Host Firmware Package’ without the need for an Service Profile associated.

Compute Enhancements

  • Secure Boot:
    Establish a chain of trust on the secure boot enabled platform to protect it from executing unauthorized BIOS images.
    UEFI Secure Boot utilizes the UEFI BIOS to authenticate UEFI images before executing them
    UCSM GUI will expose:
    * Boot Mode radio button (Legacy/UEFI)
    * Boot Security check box (visible only when UEFI is selected)

    Secure Boot

    Secure Boot

  • Enhanced Local Storage Management:
    Thanks to a new Out-of-Band communication channel developed between the CIMC and RAID Controller there is now:
    * Enhanced monitoring capabilities for local storage
    * Allow real-time monitoring of local storage without the need for host-based utilities.
  • Precision Boot Order Control:
    Enables the creation of boot policies with multiple local boot devices.
    Provides precision control over the actual boot order.
Precision Boot

Precision Boot

  • FlexFlash (Local SD Card) Support:
    Customers can now manage the FlexFlash Controller configuration from UCSM.
  • Flash Adapters and HDD Firmware Management:
    UCSM Firmware bundles now contain Flash Adapter firmware and local disk firmware.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Inventory:
Allow access to the inventory and state of the TPM module from UCSM (without having to access the BIOS via KVM).

TPM
TPM
  • DIMM Blacklisting and Correctable Error Reporting:
    Improved accuracy at identifying “Degraded” DIMMs. DIMM Blacklisting if enabled will forcefully map-out a DIMM that hits an uncorrectable error during host CPU execution

Well thats about it, hope there is somthing in this update for you, there sure is for me :-)

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About ucsguru

Principal Consultant and Cisco UCS Subject Matter Expert
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14 Responses to UCS Manager 2.2 (El Capitan) Released

  1. Brian says:

    FlexFlash (Local SD Card) Support:
    Customers can now manage the FlexFlash Controller configuration from UCSM.

    Does that mean booting from a SD card is now supported?

    • ucsguru says:

      Hi Brian
      Yes absolutley thanks to the new “Precision Boot” features of UCSM 2.2
      Precision Boot
      Remember that currently only Cisco 16GB SD Cards are supported P/N UCS-SD-16G

      Regards
      Colin

  2. Jia En says:

    Dear UCS Guru,

    If I have C240 M3 servers , B250 and B200 blade servers can I used 6120 FI To centrally manage all the B and C series servers together without an fabric extender to connect from C240 to 6120 FI?

    Thank you.

    • ucsguru says:

      Hi Jia
      Yes the 6100 and C240M3 Combo is support for direct connect without a FEX, the only proviso is that you have a VIC 1225 Card in your C-Series and UCSM 2.2(1) on the FI.
      Regards
      Colin

      • Jia En says:

        Thanks Colin.

        If C240 M3 comes with NIC Intel X520 Dual Port – 10Gb, I would not be able to perform central management from FI 6120 (UCSM 2,2) and I would required a FEX between FI 6120 and C240 M3.

        If I have a FI 6120 running UCSM 2.0(1q) and I would like to perform a central management of C240 M3, B250 M2 and B200 M2 servers from the FI 6120. Do I required a FEX (which model) and which version of UCSM should I be using?

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  5. Mark Anderson says:

    Hi UCS Guru,

    Great post on UCSM 2.2. I had a question regarding the Direct Connect C-Series Server To FI without FEX feature. How does that now work without the use of a Fabric Extender? Can you give me more detail or point me in the right direction.

    Thanks again…
    Mark

    • ucsguru says:

      Hi Mark
      Yes a very welcome option that one.

      The on board CIMC is now passed through to the VIC1225 by way of the Network Controller SideBand interface (NC-SI) this allows all traffic (Ethernet, FC and Management) to be passed through the VIC1225.

      Since UCSM 2.2(1) There is also some Code on the FI’s which now allow direct connection of the VIC1225 to the FI, (Previously a Server Port expected to only see a FEX.
      (I have asked the UCS BU if they have any WPs which give more detail on this, I’ll post here if they come up with anything)
      Regards
      Colin
      C-Series Direct Attach

  6. Andrey says:

    Dear UCS Guru,
    Is there service outage during upgrade ?
    I read ‘Upgrading Cisco UCS from Release 2.1 to Release 2.2′ and don’t understand, will be there service disruption during upgrade, if I have HA anywhere ?
    This guide is not clear:

    With this firmware upgrade, you should expect the following data traffic interruptions:
    • For fabric interconnects in a cluster configuration, minimal data traffic disruption if the correct sequence of steps is followed. Failover between the fabric interconnects prevents the longer disruption required for the fabric interconnects and I/O modules to reboot.

    What does it mean ?

    Thanks

    • ucsguru says:

      Hi Andrey
      What that means is that during the upgrade process both FI’s are rebooted at certain points as such a fabric failover will occur.
      So you should not experience an unplanned outage if your environment is configured correctly for fabric resiliency. i.e. you are using Fabric Failover on single vNICs and you are using OS Teaming across Fabrics for your other vNICs.

      NB) The only production 2.1(3a) to 2.2(1b) upgrade I have done went without any issues or outages, however I know Matt Oswalt has had a few issues which he has done a great job documenting on his blog http://keepingitclassless.net maybe worth reading his experiences and seeing if a maintainence release is issued on the back of his issues.

      Regards
      Colin

  7. Jay Smith says:

    Quick question about upgrading firmware. We’re running our environment at 2.0(3a). We’re preping for an upgrade of ESXi to 5.1 U1. Part of the prereq’s is to be running 2.0(5).

    Since we have to do a firmware upgrade, does it make more since to go to the latest 2.2(?) release? Or would we be better served to step from 2.0 to 2.1 and then later 2.2? I did see that 2.2 is the last major release to support 61xx FI’s and 21xx IOM’s.

    Environment: 2 FI 6120XP with 3 Chassis 5109 with 2104XP in 2 chassis and 2204XP in the 3rd.
    We have mix of B200M2 and B200M3 blades.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  8. Syed says:

    I have a question in this regard. If I want to boot VMware esxi host on ucs using local hard disk and all the VMs need. To be booted from SAN. In that case, how will be the boot order in service profile and how VMs will be configured to boot from SAN? How many VHBA needed?

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