ESXi NC551m stops working after firmware update

In an ideal world, management would provide unlimited funding to upgrade hardware continuously! We all know that’s not going to happen! Sometimes it is necessary to prolong the lifespan of servers as long as possible, particularly when they are extremely well-provisioned devices, even by today’s standards!

Such is the case with our HP BL460 G7 Blades. They are each equipped with a dual-port 10Gb onboard NIC adapter (Emulex HP NC553i) and a dual-port Mezzanine NIC adapter (Emulex HP NC551m), rendering a total of four 10Gb ports.

Recently, after running HP Service Pack for Proliant (SPP), we lost network connectivity to the Emulex HP NC551m adapter. It wasn’t simply that no network traffic was being passed, but rather the entire adapter disappeared from the configuration in ESXi 6, and the adapters were not visible using the SSH CLI command: esxcli network nic list It’s as if the NC551m adapter simply wasn’t there!

There has actually been quite a bit of information posted about this situation already:

All of the above articles point to one solution: Build your own ESXi Image with the correct drivers! Unfortunately, not only is this “solution” overly complex, many companies will not permit the use of images which are not at least “Partner Supported.”

I suggest the following, much simpler and “Partner Supported” method of regaining use of NC551m adapters, after updating firmware.

  1. Run the appropriate HP SPP against the Blade
  2. Connect to the host with SSH
  3. Uninstall current version of Elxnet: esxcli software vib remove –vibname elxnet

[root@ESXi:~]  esxcli software vib remove –vibname elxnet

Removal Result

Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.

Reboot Required: true

VIBs Installed:

VIBs Removed: EMU_bootbank_elxnet_11.1.145.0-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847

VIBs Skipped:

  1. Download older Elxnet driver: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=DT-ESXI60-EMULEX-ELXNET-10711044&productId=491
  2. Upload older Elxnet VIP to /tmp on the affected ESXi (G7) using a utility such as WinSCP
  3. Change to the /tmp folder: cd /tmp

[root@ESXi:~] cd /tmp

  1. Install older Elxnet vib: esxcli software vib install -v elxnet-10.7.110.44-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847.x86_64.vib

[root@ESXi:/tmp] esxcli software vib install -v elxnet-10.7.110.44-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847.x86_64.vib

Installation Result

Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.

Reboot Required: true

VIBs Installed: EMU_bootbank_elxnet_10.7.110.44-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847

VIBs Removed:

VIBs Skipped:

  1. Reboot: reboot

[root@ESXi:/tmp] reboot

John Borhek

John Borhek (VCP 3-6) is the IT Director and Lead Solutions Architect at VMsources Group Inc. and an active consultant specializing in VMware vSphere, Linux, Networking and Infrastructure Design.

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