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Oops. Cisco installed wrong firmware on some boxes and they report fake ‘severe faults’

DNA Center Appliances shipped since September may spoil Christmas with inaccurate reports of dead disks

Sorry to do this to you, dear reader, but here’s another item for your pre-holiday to-do list: update firmware on any Cisco DNA Center appliances you’ve acquired since September.

The Register offers that advice because Cisco has issued a field notice titled “Some Cisco DNA Center Appliances Shipped Between September 2022 and November 2022 Have Incorrect Firmware Installed”.

The ill-fitting firmware was installed in RAID cards and network interface cards and “is not compatible with the Cisco Integrated Management Controller (CIMC) and BIOS firmware.”

The appliances’ management consoles therefore display a “severe fault”, plus plenty of errors indicating the SSDs have reached the end of their working lives.

There’s some tiny upside in that DNA Center – Cisco’s network controller and management package – “does not notice these errors and continues to operate as if the RAID controller status is normal.”

The fix is installing the correct firmware.

To figure out if your box needs the fix, you’ll need a Cisco account to access a serial number validation tool that will reveal whether or not your machine has the infirm firmware.

But Cisco advises care when using that tool, as while it can tell you if your box was shipped with the crocked code, it can’t report on any firmware updates you may already have installed.

Cisco users may already be sensitive to reports of dodgy disks, as the company has previously reported that some of its servers included SSDs that die after 40,000 hours of use due to another firmware issue.

HPE and Dell both blamed disk-maker Western Digital for a similar issue.

This time around, the fault is Cisco’s alone: the company offered the following explanation for how it happened:

“Cisco recently changed the default software preloaded on all new Cisco DNA Center appliances to Cisco DNA Center Software Version and CIMC Version 4.1(3d). This change was made to switch to the new Generally Available (GA) software version, as is done from time to time. Due to a manufacturing process error during the switch, only the Cisco DNA Center, CIMC, and BIOS software was upgraded. The corresponding RAID controller and NIC card firmware software was not changed to the correct versions compatible with CIMC Version 4.1(3d).”

Merry Christmas to you, too, Cisco. ®

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