Where do I begin with these iDRACs?! I have worked a lot with HP ILO, and I have to say I have never really had any issues, but Dell iDRACS and Dells in general seems a bit hit and miss!

The current setup is we have the iDRACs configured in shared mode on their own VLAN. Basically they share an on-board NIC port and a max speed of 100Mb and the rest of the 1Gb is used for normal stuff, so you can save on ports and not have to dedicate.

The issue is they seem to keep falling off the network, and the only way to get them back is to reboot the server. There is a trick where you can hold down the little ‘i’ button on the front of the server near the LCD panel for 20 seconds and it’ll soft reset the iDRAC. But let’s just say that didn’t work.

After doing some digging, the iDRAC firmwares were very out of date. So the latest version for the R710 iDRAC6 was v1.98 and for the R720 iDRAC7 is v1.66. Interestingly enough on the latest firmware for the iDRAC7 there is a specific mention to the issue we have been having:

“Intermittent connection issues with iDRAC shared LOM network port.”

iDRAC7 wiki

So horrayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!

But there is no mention of something similar for the iDRAC6 *sad face*. Anyway I get all the firmwares updated apart from one R710 host. I simply can’t get it to update via the web GUI. I tried making a repository from the Dell Repository Manager, as it compiles all the latest updates and then creates a bootable Linux DVD , that when booted from updates everything that it can on the host. It can be downloaded here:

Dell Repository Manager

I tried this and it updated everything, BUT the iDRAC6 firmware. I then even tried the OSMA Linux Live CD, which can be downloaded here:

Live CD Link 1
Live CD Link 2

That even didn’t work, I was just like WTF is left!?

I even tried upgrading from v1.8 to v1.9, in the hope that if I went in increments I could get to v1.99 but no joy.

Then someone mentioned going from v1.8 to v1.85, interestingly the v1.85 iDRAC6 firmware isn’t listed in the Dell wiki:

iDRAC6 wiki

It jumps from v1.8 to v1.9, so someone pointed me to the direct link to v1.85 here:

Dell iDRAC6 v1.85 firmware

I was like that won’t work, but behold it did. His logic was that sometimes, even though they are supposed to be able to upgrade to the latest version, for whatever reason it doesn’t work. As soon as that update completed, it took the v1.98 update fine!

Anyway after all that messing about, migrating VMs off pausing alerts in PRTG…….The hosts still fall off the network, but only the R710 iDRAC6 hosts, and at random intervals. There just doesn’t seem to be any pattern!

I decided to call Dell ProSupport, I asked them if they had come across any other issues and they said they hadn’t. Their recommendations were basically what I already thought:

• Upgrade everything to the latest version, as the BIOS and Lifecycle controller were way behind
• Use the dedicated iDRAC6 Enterprise port

So nothing new there, after a discussion with a couple of people, I decided to upgrade one of the hosts to the latest everything and see if that helped. I doubt it will, but it’s worth a shot. We will see how it goes.

It may look like the networking guy is going to have to put an old 100Mb switch in place for the iDRAC6 Enterprise dedicated port, as that might end up being the only way to ensure no drop outs.

A few people have told me that you shouldn’t use shared mode for ESXi hosts, but not one has explained why and there is nothing online about it that I can see.

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