Historically, time has been the enemy in the storage world. Every three or four years, vendors would upgrade their offering with new hardware and software. Unfortunately for customers, there was no way to upgrade their hardware or software to the new version. This required a full replacement of their systems with data migrations. Not only was this a burden, but being forced to repurchase a new array and software every three to four years was a tremendous expense.
We at Nimble Storage have always believed this to be the wrong approach. When we launched our second generation (Gen2) hardware platform (CS300/500/700) last year, we allowed a seamless and automated data migration for customers who wanted to repurpose their first generation (Gen1) arrays and move data to a new system. Jason Monger had a fantastic writeup of the process on his blog.
With the release of NimbleOS 2.3, we now also offer the capability to directly upgrade a Gen1 array (CS2xx/4xx) to the Gen2 platform.
If you're familiar with the Gen1 and Gen2 hardware platforms, you'll remember that we moved from the Nehalem/Westmere chips (Gen1) to the IvyBridge chips in Gen2. We moved from a PCI NVRAM card to an NVDIMM to even further reduce write latency (and free up a PCI slot). And we completely redesigned the NIC cage for easier/faster removal of the assembly should any cards need to be added or swapped as well as new micro-SAS ports for expansion shelf connectivity. With those hardware changes in mind, the Gen1/Gen2 controller upgrade does have a few prerequisites to be aware of:
You'll obviously need a set of new controllers (CS235, CS300, CS500, CS700) to upgrade to. Please keep in mind that upgrading from a CS400 to a CS300 is not recommended.
You'll need to get the new PCI NIC cage and corresponding cards based on your current configuration
If you have any expansion shelves, you'll want to make sure to get the Gen2 SAS cables to connect to the new controller SAS ports.
Please verify that any new configuration after upgrade matches an existing valid configuration (i.e. you can't upgrade a CS220 to a CS500 without increasing the minimum cache size).
Because of the changes in CPU/NVRAM, this particular upgrade does need to be performed offline, although it is data in place. Once you have all the necessary hardware components in place you'll want to follow the following steps to complete the process:
Upgrade NimbleOS to 2.3.x
Verify your cache size will meet minimum sizing requirements on the Gen2 platform
Shut down your array
Label and disconnect all cables from both controllers.
Use a phillips screwdriver to loosen the retainer screws and remove both controllers
Install BOTH new controllers and tighten the retainer screws
Reconnect all cables. Remember to use the new Gen2 SAS cables for all expansion shelves
Power on the array.
Check for new model number
You can also find a step-by-step Controller Upgrade Guide on the InfoSight downloads page.