Saturday morning doing expenses so why not fix a few things in the Lab :P

The Value line 

You may skip this if you want just the tech bytes :P

At pivotal we have this note concepts of the value line (more details HERE ): it is a fairly simple concept. At some point in time you have to decide at which layer of your stack you’ll stop messing up and have somebody do that/simplify it for You.

In “Cloud Native World” that could value line should usually stay at the Container as a Service or Platform as a Service layer for Developers while Operators may focus on what sits on top of a IaaS.

It is very much similar to the old Pizza as a Service vs IaaS/PaaS slide that we all have used to explain the basic of aaS :P

This is an example of the value line that You could use when leveraging Pivotal Cloud Foundry (stop at the Container level with PKS or at the code level with PAS):

This was my chance to go (yet again) below the value line and fix hardware issues that should be mundane in 2018 but which are truly not :P

Unfortunately in my lab I have to do everything from hardware up to code :P And I cannot buy a good thing that would update BIOS and firmware on his own like a good VxRail which could have saved me a lot of hours :P

Upgrading BIOS to save the Lab 

My lab relies on a few servers that are getting old (mainly R610 and R710) and vSphere 6.7 is not officially on these models (see this workaround ) so I went out to ebay to buy some X56xx processors and embarked in the hard work of making hardware work properly ;)

To support these processors you need a 6.x BIOS and some of my systems were not up to date (even if they were running ESXi 6.5 without problems).

Long story short upgrading BIOS is not always trivial so here are some good notes :)

Updating with Dell Boot CD 

This is fairly easy, just boot up your Dell servers with an ISO image downloaded from here and let him do the dirty job :P

The special one ;) 

One of these servers was an Avamar node (repurposed hardware coming from my fine friends at DellEMC) so flashing his BIOS was not trivial as the normal procedures did not work (and the BIOS was soo old like 1.1.x :O )

After googling around for a while I managed to perform the upgrade, so here’s how :)

I had to prepare a boot USB with FreeDOS (HERE for the full procedure) and copy over the files (EXE) to perform a BIOS upgrade (remember the good old days of upgrading a BIOS with floppy? This is much it).

Next I used the USB image to boot via DRAC

And then I used this command to force the upgrade:


As this was BIOS 1.1.x I first went to 3.x an then up to 6.x

Next steps 

BTW I now have to go through an upgrade using the command line (as VMware Upgrade Manager would see that my hardware is not compliant) so more toil will be required Yet again :P

Closing Notes 

That’s it: going below the value line is painful but it was necessary this time (maybe figuring out the TCO of the whole operation would tell me that it would have been cheaper to buy new hardware but.. :P ).

Feel free to reach out to me with your tricks!!