Apr 22

Mass upgrades with Cisco Prime Infrastructure 2.0

Cisco Prime Infrastructure (PI) is supposed to make managing your wireless controllers easy. One way that PI helps with the work load is with software upgrades on your wireless LAN controllers (WLC). If you only have a few controllers, the software upgrade is pretty easy and very manageable. Depending on your network, you could have 700 or more controllers to manage. When you have this many controllers, logging into each one to perform a software upgrade is not manageable.

If you have a lot of controllers to upgrade and have to do the upgrade after hours, PI can do it for you. The process is very simple,

1. Select the controllers
2. Schedule the date, time, Reboot Type
3. Select the software image and FTP server (or TFTP)
4. Sleep through the upgrade


Select similar controller models (CONFIGURE –> CONTROLLERS). Make sure the controllers you select can all go to the software version you are moving to. Selecting the controllers in PI could be a challenge. I prefer to sort the controllers by Software Version. If you are moving to (Latest as of the writing of this post), then select the controllers at a lower version.

If you are using the PI Server/Appliance as the FTP server, I found 20 software downloads at a time is about all it can do. If you do more downloads at the same time, the failure rate increases. Do some testing on your network to see if it works better.

After you select your controllers, In the upper right select “DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE (FTP)” then click “GO”.


The next screen will list the controllers you have selected and the current software version.
– Click the radio button next to “Scheduled”.
– Enter a name in the “Task Name” Field
– To the right of “Reboot Type” Click the radio button next to “Automatic”
– This will cause the WLC to reboot after the software has been downloaded and installed.
– Select the Date and Time
– Enter the FTP Username
– Enter the FTP Password
– FTP port defaults to 21


I prefer to use FTP over TFTP because it is more reliable.
– To select an FTP server, click the radio button next to “FTP Server”
– Server Name, Default Server
– Enter the IP address of the FTP server, I use the PI appliance and it enters /localdisk/ftp for the location. That is the location where I have the file.
– No matter what FTP server you use, you need to make sure that it has the file and the username/password work.
– Enter the file name.
– Click “DOWNLOAD”

Now the job is scheduled and will run at the selected time. To view this task go to CONTROLLER –> SCHEDULED CONFIGURATION TASKS –> DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE. Once you are there, look for your task name. You can go to this same location after the job ran to see the results.

You need to do some testing to see how long the download takes. You may want to schedule 20 controllers every 15 minutes throughout your maintenance window. Maybe your FTP server can handle more or less and maybe it takes less or more time.

How do you know what WLC you already have scheduled when you go back to your list to schedule the next group? Cisco made it very simple, they put a little scheduled icon next to the current software version. When you list your controllers (CONFIGURE –> CONTROLLERS) you will see the following image next to the software version of controllers that are already scheduled.

PI Scheduled Job Icon

PI Scheduled Job Icon

I don’t advise doing this over the WAN with 4404 WLCs. I have had 4404s crash while performing an FTP image transfer over a T-1 connection. Cisco does recommend transferring the image over the LAN, not the WAN. On the flip side, I have upgraded hundreds of 2100s WLCs over the WAN with FTP.

Have you performed mass software upgrades with Prime Infrastructure and if so, how did it go?

Oct 29

The easiest network equipment I have ever upgraded

Through out my career I have spent many hours reading release notes before I would perform a software upgrade on a piece of network equipment. I always look for memory requirements, incremental versions, what line cards or access points are supported. The list goes on and on.

I have upgraded a large number of Cisco devices, I have even turned a few of them into bricks because I didn’t read the release notes. I found that the Foundry/Brocade NetIron platform seems to be the most complex, while the Riverbed Steelhead WAN accelerators are the easiest to upgrade.

Riverbed has done a great job at making this process very easy. After you log into Riverbed’s Support . You select the software version your Steelhead is on, then select the version you want to go to, then click submit. The website then tells you if you need an incremental upgrade or if you can go directly to the version you want. It also provides you with the links to download the software that it just told you that you need.

This feature on the website eliminates the time to research the upgrade process. There is no searching through the release notes for the information, then the download links are right there for you. They have made this very easy.

I have a couple of different Steelhead models, I have accidentally uploaded the wrong file to the wrong model. After making this attempt, it gave me an error stating that it wasn’t a compatible version. This was nice because I was able to avoid turning my Steelhead into a brick.

After you download the software file, you simply click “Browse” from the software upgrade page, then select the file from your PC. No extra TFTP/FTP servers or firewall access is required like a lot of other network equipment.

Once you get the file transferring, the system gives you a status message, then when the software is installed, it tells you to reboot the Steelhead. You go to the “Reboot/Shutdown” link and click “Reboot”.

Riverbed Steelhead Upgrade Process

Riverbed Steelhead Upgrade Process

Even though this article explains how to upgrade your Riverbed Steelhead, I still suggest that you read your release notes so you don’t cause a problem. At the time of this writing, these steps are correct for the CX-555 model (probably many more).

What network equipment have you used that the vendor has made the upgrade process easy?

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