A Windows hotfix is code (sometimes called a patch) that fixes a ‘bug’ or known issue in the Windows system. Windows Server administrators can obtain information about currently available hotfixes via Microsoft's web site, and download the hotfixes they wish to apply. Validating that required Windows hotfixes are installed has always been an important part of the Nimble installation process, as missing critical hotfixes related to the storage stack can potentially result in data corruption, system outages, or "device missing" conditions. Previously this meant reviewing the hotfix list in the NWT release notes, and then manually checking their presence on the system.The new Hotfix Checker tool significantly simplifies this process and helps to avoid any problems that may result from missing hotfixes.
The Nimble Windows Toolkit (NWT) provides several key features when deploying Nimble Storage arrays in a Windows / Hyper-V environment:
Nimble Setup Manager – makes it easier to find and set up new, uninitialized Nimble arrays and add arrays to an existing group.
Nimble VSS integration (for use with iSCSI or Fibre Channel) - enables Nimble arrays to interact with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on the Windows host to take application-consistent snapshots.
Nimble Connection Service (for iSCSI only) manages the optimal number of connections from a Windows host to any given volume residing on a Nimble array.
Windows PowerShell Module displays Nimble connected volumes and their information.
A new feature introduced with v2.3.x of the toolkit is the Nimble Hotfix Checker which is compatible with Windows Server 2008R2 SP1 onwards and checks for the presence of key Windows storage stack hotfixes during toolkit installation. Also included is the Hotfix Monitor Service which validates the presence of these hotfixes on every system reboot, or whenever the hotfix definition file is updated.
During the installation process, the Installation Wizard displays a "Hotfixes Required" dialog box shown in the below screenshot:
Click Hotfix Report to launch a local web page which lists critical hotfixes that are missing and provides links to download them:
You can also click Current recommended hotfix list to view a current list of all required hotfixes.
A point of note is that the Nimble Windows Toolkit allows for ‘silent installation’ via the command line or a script, and in that mode the default behaviour is to block NWT installation if the Hotfix Checker determines that any required hotfixes are not installed. It is possible to override this behaviour and force installation if required, however you don’t really want to do that, right?
When you install the Nimble Windows Toolkit, the Nimble Hotfix Monitor service is also installed. This service runs at system startup, and whenever the hotfix definition file (hotfix.xml) is modified. It checks for missing hotfixes and writes an event log entry containing links to those hotfixes:
So overall this is a great new tool to help streamline the installation process, make the storage administrator’s job easier, and reduce the risk of encountering issues that could result from missing critical Windows hotfixes.