Prowess Consulting evaluated the Integrated Dell™ Remote Access Controller 9 (iDRAC9) sideband direct rebootless and parallel firmware update capabilities on Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers and analyzed their effects on server maintenance cycles and IT staff productivity.
Server components like NVM Express® (NVMe®) drives require updates to firmware in the same way that the server operating systems require updates. Traditional firmware updates require a server to be rebooted, which means that the server must be taken out of service for a period of time. Organizations that rely heavily on their on-premises server environments cannot afford downtime for their critical business operations. To achieve higher uptime, maintenance windows must be smaller, which can make scheduling downtime for server firmware updates difficult.
Rebootless and parallel firmware updates help organizations avoid server downtime. Rebootless firmware updates to components such as NVMe drives and backplanes allow a server and its workloads to continue to run while the updates are applied and completed. Parallel firmware updates allow identical components, such as multiple NVMe drives, to be updated simultaneously instead of one at a time.
When servers do not need to be pulled from service to apply firmware updates, or when multiple NVMe drives can be updated in parallel, time and cost savings across large server deployments can quickly add up. Prowess Consulting conducted benchmarking tests to determine the potential time savings that can result from conducting a rebootless firmware update on a single NVMe drive and conducting rebootless firmware updates on multiple NVMe drives in parallel using Integrated Dell™ Remote Access Controller 9 (iDRAC9).
This technical research report details the findings of our testing and provides an analysis of how rebootless firmware updates and parallel firmware updates can benefit server deployments of any size.