Dell EMC hardware firmware update

Dell EMC hardware firmware update!/story/2003494

Operators and deployers (such as tripleo) need the ability to flash the firmware on Dell EMC hardware to specific versions before provisioning baremetal servers.

Problem description

Use cases

  • An operator upgrades the firmware for certain hardware components on a server to newer versions to take advantage of new features or bug fixes in the firmware. This could be prior to or after provisioning.

  • An operator rolls back the firmware for certain hardware components on a server to prior versions to avoid regressions introduced in newer firmware. This could be prior to or after provisioning.

  • A deployer (such as tripleo) pins the firmware for certain hardware components to specified versions prior to initiating overcloud deployment.

The following use cases are considered outside the scope of this spec:

  • An operator or software component uploads a firmware image to a firmware image repository.

  • An operator or software component removes a firmware image from a firmware image repository.

Dell EMC WSMAN firmware management

WSMAN firmware management is offered by the iDRAC. Supported operations are:

  • List firmware on server: Enumerate DCIM_SoftwareIdentity

  • Update firmware: Invoke DCIM_SoftwareInstallationService.InstallFromSoftwareIdentity

Dell EMC Redfish firmware management

Redfish firmware management is offered by the iDRAC. Supported operations are:

Support for firmware management in redfish hardware type

A patch for firmware update in sushy has been merged: There is no support for firmware update in the redfish hardware type yet.

Proposed change

Since the Dell EMC ‘’redfish’’ implementation of firmware update is fully compliant with the DMTF spec, the decision has been made to go with a redfish implementation.

A manual clean step will be added to the RedfishManagement class to initiate firmware update. The clean step will accept a list of dictionaries. Each dictionary will represent a single firmware update, and will contain a URI to the firmware image.

As an example:

"clean_steps": [{
    "interface": "management",
    "step": "update_firmware",
    "args": {
                "url": "file:///firmware_images/idrac/9/iDRAC-with-Lifecycle-Controller_Firmware_VRYKT_WN64_3.32.32.32_A00.EXE",
                "checksum": "<sha1-checksum-of-this-file>"
                "url": "swift://firmware_container/BIOS_W8Y0W_WN64_2.1.7.EXE",
                "checksum": "<sha1-checksum-of-this-file>"

The implementation will apply the firmware updates in the given order.

The implementation will have no knowledge of dependencies of the supplied firmware, or if the firmware is applicable to the hardware that it is being installed on. The implementation will rely on the firmware update failing gracefully in these cases.

The updater will fail fast so that if one update fails, it will abort and not apply the remaining updates. If a failure does occur midway through applying the updates, successful updates prior to the failed update will not be rolled back.

The cleaning step will be out-of-band. The firmware update cleaning step will use Redfish to perform the update. The intent is to use the sushy library if possible, and if not, provide vendor extensions as necessary.

While the iDRAC supports rolling back to the last known good firmware, the ability to do this will not be implemented as part of this spec. Instead, if a user wishes to roll back to an early version of the firmware, they will just do a firmware update to an older version.

While the initial implementation of this will use the Redfish protocol, it will be implemented in such a way that it will not preclude adding support for the WSMAN protocol at a later date.


One alternative would be to implement firmware update using WSMAN. Because WSMAN will eventually be deprecated in favor of Redfish, it is preferred to avoid this option.

Another alternative would be to do firmware update in-band via an Ironic Python Agent hardware manager for the iDRAC.

Data model impact


State Machine Impact


REST API impact


Client (CLI) impact

“ironic” CLI

Users will be able to launch a cleaning step to update the firmware on Dell EMC servers.

“openstack baremetal” CLI

Users will be able to launch a cleaning step to update the firmware on Dell EMC servers.

RPC API impact


Driver API impact

A cleaning step will be added to update the firmware on Dell EMC hardware managed by the redfish hardware type.

Nova driver impact


Ramdisk impact


Security impact


Other end user impact


Scalability impact


Performance Impact


Other deployer impact

To use firmware update, the user will need to configure the selected hardware type to use the redfish management interface and set redfish credentials in the node’s driver_info.

Config options

A new [firmware_update] group will be defined in the ironic configuration file. The following options will be moved from the iLO section to that group.


Indicates if images should be uploaded to the conductor web server.


The swift container for firmware images.


The timeout in seconds after which the given swift URL should expire.

Developer impact





Work Items

  • Ironic RedfishManagement changes to add a cleaning step

  • python-dracclient changes to implement firmware update

  • Ironic iDRAC hardware type changes to add support for the Redfish management interface




Addition of unit tests to test the firmware update cleaning step.

Upgrades and Backwards Compatibility

If a firmware update is attempted on a Dell EMC server that does not support the Redfish UpdateService.SimpleUpdate firmware upgrade command, then cleaning will be aborted and an appropriate error message logged.

Documentation Impact

The documentation will be updated to cover this new feature. The documentation will be updated to include the generations of Dell EMC hardware officially supported.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

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