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NetApp ONTAP 9.7 simulator upgrade guide

The purpose of this article is to follow up on a series of posts dedicated to the NetApp ONTAP and in particular to the Simulator version which is a great addition to test in the homelab. A few articles back everything started by installing the ONTAP Sim version 9.4 and then 9.5. A few articles and NetApp releases later it is now possible to bring the install to the latest version of NetApp ONTAP 9.7. And yes this applies to the Simulator version which is commonly used for testing and demo in homelab environments.

At the time of writing the very latest release available from the NetApp support site is ONTAP 9.7p7 (it requires free subscription to access download section). Although it is possible to download existing simulator images, not all versions are available and some of them are hypervisor specific (for example VMware Workstation vs VMware vSphere). There are some subtle differences that might prevent a successful deployment of the OVA file. Another reason is testing specific patch versions trying to simulate the production environment. The upgrade process itself is very easy and requires a few preparatory steps just to accommodate the file size of the update image which can be a few GB depending on the version. Generally the latest releases have bigger files as these includes more patches and features. Another point to take into consideration is that this method allows to test new features without touching the production environments. There two types of upgrades. The one covered in this article will essentially upload the new image file, set as running image and become active on the next reboot of the NetApp node.

It is important to mention this upgrade method will operate in a disruptive-mode which means all existing system configuration will be wiped. So the recommendation is to start from a clean ONTAP Sim image and then follow the procedure below. At the time of writing the ONTAP 9.5 patch6 is the latest version available and compatible with a VMware vSphere environment (other versions are compatible with VMware Workstation, Fusion and Player as well). This article will show the steps to upgrade to the NetApp ONTAP 9.7 patch3. Same approach is also valid for later versions. For the ones who are still running on a Simulator 9.4 and below, the recommendation is to run these steps to bring the version to a 9.5 patch 3 or higher before going to a 9.7 straight. Reason is on bug related to a certificate which prevents the upgrade process to complete successfully. There is a lot to learn when running system in a homelab first!


How to upgrade the NetApp ONTAP simulator

Before proceeding with the NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade it is a good idea to check the running version. This can be easily accomplished by checking the About section directly from the OnCommand System Manager console. Of course an equivalent command line does exist in the console. For any version prior 9.4, the best approach is to upgrade to a 9.5 patch 3 or higher before upgrading to a 9.7. This is due to a certificate compatibility issue solved in later versions.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

Preparing the NetApp ONTAP Node

After checking the current NetApp ONTAP version and depending on the  space available in the current install, it might be necessary to add storage just to upload the latest image update file. As of latest versions these files tend to be bigger. The great news is that latest patches are also cumulative. This means a direct upgrade to latest version, barring compatibility issues with specific features. In this case, as already covered in a previous article, the first step is to increase the disk storage space of the aggregate and allow enough room to upload and extract the patch files.

Selecting the default Disk Aggregate, next step is to add capacity.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

This will now bring to a new wizard where is possible to add the disk type and number. The NetApp simulator comes with a predefined number of disks and can support up to 56 disks spread over 4 shelves. More info on this and also how to recreate them from scratch are available in this article.

After adding the new disks, the new capacity is automatically updated. This will also provide an idea if sufficient based on the upload file size.

At this point next step is to jump into the console and list the current volume size, increase the volume size and reboot the node to make the changes effective. So ideally a list of commands would be:

  • volume show
  • vol size -vserver “NetApp Node Name” -volume “vol number” -new-size “desired size close to the number shown in previous screen”
  • volume show (confirm the new size)
  • reboot -node “NetApp Node Name”

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

And a final Y to confirm the reboot operation.

Upload NetApp ONTAP Image Update

During the NetApp node reboot the boot utility shows a Ctrl-C command to interrupt the standard boot process. This will bring new options before booting.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

From the boot menu, next step is to choose option 7 to install new software first.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

Next a warning will appear about no support for non-disruptive upgrade on a HA pair. In this case this procedure is run on a single node cluster on a simulator. It’s great to see what the end user experience is just by running similar steps. Of course yes to continue.

NetApp ONTAP will require a network interface to download the new software, by default is the e0c network interface. Usually the Boot script picks up e0c and e0a cards first. So it important to make sure the selected network interface is connected to a VMware VCSA Port Group.

The boot script will ask a confirmation for rebooting the node and will promptly ask for the IP address configuration for the selected network interface on the NetApp ONTAP simulator.

At this point everything is in place to specify the IP Address the selected network interface will use to download the software image.

Get the update image

Everything is now ready to upload the image file. At the time of running this upgrade the latest version available from NetApp download site was 9.7 patch 3. At the moment this is 9.7 patch 7. The procedure is pretty similar. The preference should go for the image files with “q” and “nodar” in the name. The former indicates an image file that compatible also with software versions of the NetApp ONTAP installed in virtual environments whereas the latter provides a non-encrypted image file. For certain countries, the encryption is a requirement, therefore the updates are available in both formats.

The ideal scenario is to upload the image file on a HTTP server. Should this not be available, there is a great little tool, HTTP File Server (HFS) which provides a very quick and simple way to offer content through HTTP protocol. all is required is to “upload” the NetApp image file to the HFS server simply by dragging this one into the window. This will automatically generate the HTTP URL address to upload the file straight to the NetApp ONTAP Simulator.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

Now switching back to the NetApp simulator it is a matter to enter the full URL address and accept default with enter.

If successful the NetApp ONTAP will start uploading the update file.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade

At the same time it is also possible to monitor the progress directly from the HFS server.

Confirm image update

As soon as the upload step is completed, the update process will validate the image file, check the available space, set the current and alternate image, get ready to flash the alternate image.

The process is not very long, just a matter of few minutes, shows the update status as well. At this point it is a matter to specify if the new image will loaded by default at the boot. A great way to test the new image and eventually revert it back to the original one. Software images are not massive and might be a good idea keeping them until not required or superseded by other updates.

A final question now will ask about a reboot into the newly upgraded image on NetApp ONTAP 9.7

Upon reboot and visiting back the About button, it shows the NetApp ONTAP 9.7 release updated directly on the simulator. The image works pretty well and stable also when paired with a NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) as covered in a separate article.

domalab.com NetApp ONTAP 9.7 upgrade


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.


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