Patching Oracle Exalogic – part 2

Patching Oracle Exalogic – updating the IB Gateway switches

In my last post I promised to write some more on the details of patching, using patch set update 4 (i.e. Januari 2012 patchset update 13113092) as an example. So let’s get started on patching the infrastructure, by looking at updates for the Infiniband Gateway switches.

I will demonstrate that these switches can be upgraded in a rolling fashion, without interrupting the network services (except for a few seconds) and keeping the Exalogic online while doing so!

1.2     Patching the Gateway switches

First thing to note is that patching of the infrastructure is done under user root, not weblogic. After unzipping the file (see my previous post on patching) we find the following:


First thing to do when starting this is some careful preparation: by thoroughly checking the provided README.html file and also checking for additional information provided on My Oracle Support (MOS) like upgrade advisors, i.e. the “Exalogic January 2012 PSU Infrastructure Upgrade Guide [ID 1392684.1]”. Be sure to also check the “known issues” document for your PSU.

Then we do some version checking to see whether we need to apply a component update or not, since the patchset is cumulative it is possible that some of the updates have already been applied earlier.

The README.html file for the infrastructure part says:

If you are running either v1. or v1. of Exalogic Infrastructure, you must apply all the infrastructure patches/upgrades included in this PSU in the following order:

1.Exalogic Infrastructure

a. InfiniBand Gateway Switch (NM2-GW)

b. InfiniBand Switch 36 ( NM2-36p )

c. ZFS Storage Appliance (ZFS_Storage_7320)

i.   Q3.2

ii.  ILOM on the storage head

iii. Q3.3

d. Base Image v1. (rolling update, node at a time)

2. Exalogic Configuration Utility (ECU, previously called one-command)

Summarizing, the order of patching is as follows: first the network switches, then the storage appliance, then the OS on the compute nodes. Since we have a quarter rack configuration, there is no MM2-36p switch installed so we don’t have to update it. We only have to update the two NM2-GW switches in our rack.

1.3     Checking current versions on the switches

Now, we first check the current software versions for the IB gateway switches. The README says the following:

This section contains instructions on upgrading NM2-GW InfiniBand Gateway switches in an Exalogic rack from version 1.1.2-3 (factory default on Exalogic X2-2 racks shipped with either v1. or v1. of the Exalogic Base Image) to version 1.3.2-1.

After logging in as root, we can use the version command to check the software version:


As it turns out, this particular patchset update is not very suited for demonstration of updates for the Infiniband Gateway switches in our case, as we already arrived at the required patchlevel (1.3.2-1) by doing the october 2011 patchset 12825625. Instead, I will therefore take the upgrade to version (patch 13795376) as an example here. For this update, the Infiniband Gateway switches have to be upgraded to SUN DCS version 2.0.4-1.

First we have to do a number of prerequisite checks, which I will not mention here (but which are important to best ensure the update goes through flawlessy). Then we perform the upgrade of the two gateway switches in a rolling fashion, so we don’t interrupt network services and users and applications kan keep working. We do this by first upgrading the switch that is not the active master switch. Let’s find out which of the two has this role:


OK, gateway number 2 (GW02) is the master switch at present. That means we should upgrade the GW01 switch first, have them switch roles and then upgrade GW02 to finish up.

1.4     Upgrading GW01

The README for the upgrade states the following (very similar to the README for the jan 2012 PSU, but a little more elaborate). The patch file is loaded via FTP from the Exalogic storage, where we have set up an ftp user called patcher for this in advance.

To upgrade the secondary NM2-GW switches, complete the following steps:

1. Switch to the ILOM shell by running the spsh command on the command line:

# spsh


2. Ensure that you have created the patches share in the ZFS storage appliance, and

enabled the FTP service on the share with the permission for root access, as described in the top-level README file, which is included in the upgrade kit.

Load the firmware upgrade package using the command:

-> load -source ftp://root:<root_password>@<storage_host>//<path_to_NM2-GW_fw_ upgrade_binaries_on_patches_share>/sundcs_gw_repository_2.0.4_1.pkg

OK, easy enough, let’s do that:


Hmm, I guess we should use the IP address of the storage instead of it’s name. Also I found that we need to supply the password directly, so we try again, and then it goes through:



OK that worked fine, now exit the service processor shell and reboot it:

Wait a bit for the GW02 switch to come back up, then log back in to verify it and check the version:


OK, done! There’s more checking to do but I’ll skip it here for both for clarity and brevity.

1.5     Switching network control from GW02 over to GW01

Now that we have succesfully upgraded GW01, we can now make it the master switch so that GW02 is freed from network control duty and can be upgraded as well. We can do this by temporarely disabling the subnet manager on GW02, forcing a switchover:


Check on both GW01 and GW02 after waiting a few seconds:


1.6     Upgrading GW02

So now the GW01 has become the master switch and we can upgrade GW02 in the same way.  After completing the upgrade for GW02 and checking the version, we should make sure the subnet manager is re-enabled on GW02 so it can again watch GW01’s back and quickly takeover control if the need arises.


Cool, we have in fact perfomed a rolling upgrade on the NM2-GW switches, and while we were upgrading them one after the other, the Exalogic stayed online!


Note: ususally there are some small post-upgrade steps to do which I will not mention here.

1.7     Next time

Next time, we will have a look at how the ZFS 7320 storage appliance kan be upgraded in a similar fashion, using the rolling upgrade principle.


Jos Nijhoff is an experienced Application Infrastructure consultant at Qualogy. Currently he plays a key role as technical presales and hands-on implementation lead for Qualogy's exclusive Exalogic partnership with Oracle for the Benelux area. Thus he keeps in close contact with Oracle presales and partner services on new developments, but maintains an independent view. He gives technical guidance and designs, reviews, manages and updates the application infrastructure before, during and after the rollout of new and existing Oracle (Fusion) Applications & Fusion Middleware implementations. Jos is also familiar with subjects like high availability, disaster recovery scenarios, virtualization, performance analysis, data security, and identity management integration with respect to Oracle applications.

2 Reacties op Patching Oracle Exalogic – part 2

  1. Paul Done schreef:

    This is really useful Jos capturing all the pertient info and examples in one place – will be a very handy refernece.

  2. Jos Nijhoff schreef:

    Thanks Paul! (for those of you who don’t know Paul : Paul is Technical Director, Engineered Systems for Oracle and member of the EMEA Engineered Systems Architecture Team. He is based in the UK and has his own blog :

    I have met Paul twice, at the Exalogic TOPGUN event in Linlithgow in juli 2011 and last month at the next Exalogic TOPGUN event over there.

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