One’d think that the most common reaction to a new software upgrade is about the change in the software’s look and feel, but really, what drives the anxiety around upgrades is the pain of upgrading and its possible impacts on the business. At the recent Storage Field Day event, Pure Storage presented a new Self-Service Upgrade for Pure1 which takes the stress out of upgrading making sure that software upgrades and business outcomes aren’t on a collision course.
The White-Glove Upgrade
So long, Pure Storage has offered its customers “white-gloves support” for all appliance upgrades on Pure1. Every time something in the array needed upgrading, the client would sit down with the support team as the team walked them through the upgrades. This is quite a pain-free process in itself, except, it required scheduling an upgrade with Pure’s support team.
Scheduling an upgrade on Pure1 was straightforward as well, and took only a few clicks. On the Pure1 dashboard, under the Software Lifecycle tab was the option to schedule an upgrade. The dashboard showed the list of appliances and their models that users could choose from. Once a user chose the appliance and its model, they’d be asked to select the version they wanted to upgrade to. This’d take them directly to the scheduler where they could select an available date and time. The duration of the session would be clearly mentioned so that users could choose a time that worked best for them. That’s all it took to request an upgrade. The next thing, someone from the support team would get in touch with them to do the pre-checks before the final upgrade.
Time and Other Constraints
As easy as the assisted upgrade sounds, it still has the time factor attached to it. For 2 hours on a workday, users must sit down with the team and work hand-in-hand till the systems are upgraded. And as upgrades keep coming, more time needs to be invested.
Although customers loved the “white-glove” upgrade, Pure Storage recognized that there were significant rooms for improvement. But making upgrades self-service wouldn’t have solved the problem entirely because there are always risks of something breaking in the process of upgrade. Without supervision of experts, it could very easily go wrong.
So Pure Storage combined the best of both and introduced a new Self-Service Upgrade that “lets customers upgrade whenever they want”. But Pure Storage didn’t want this new way to be too different from the existing method. So they threw in upgrade assistance to this to complete the package.
The Four-Step Any-Time Storage Upgrade
At the recent Storage Field Day event, Stan Yanitskiy, Sr Product Manager and Matt Bradford, Director of Technical Marketing for Digital Experience at Pure Storage explained how the new Self-Service upgrade on Pure1 works and in what way it’s better than the previous method.
Like it says, the Self-Service Upgrade lets users run upgrades on their own without the supporting team walking them through it. In the new method, users perform the pre-checks themselves, and it’s really easy. All they need to do is check the upgrade readiness of the appliance to make sure that the concerned device is eligible to upgrade to the next version.
Yanitskiy says, “We want to make sure that you’re within a single hop and do not get into a situation where you have to do multiple hops at a time so that it just takes the least amount of time.” The pre-checks are to “make sure that you go from your current version to the target version without any kind of incompatibilities, that the target array is on a compatible version, so you don’t break anything in your environment.”
The pre-checks also include host configurations to avoid breaking the controller and cutting off the communication by accident. The idea behind is to make sure that all conditions are optimal because if they are not, an attempt to upgrade can lead to an outage.
In the next step, the user downloads the code. After this, there will be one final on-array pre-check with live data before the system is upgraded.
But with Self-Service Upgrade, customers won’t be entirely on their own in the wild. The Pure support team will be constantly watching making sure that data availability and performance are not impacted during the upgrade. If a problem occurs, they will step in and smooth it out, or help customers rollback, if required.
Yanitskiy says that the Self-Service Upgrade literally has “no maintenance windows or downtime” and as a result is completely non-disruptive and safe.
The new Self-Service Upgrade is different from the former time-consuming assisted upgrade. As opposed to the long-drawn supported upgrades, here support is kept at the ready on the off chance that something went wrong during the upgrade, so that a response can be dispatched without wasting any time. Users don’t need to take time out of their busy schedules, and upgrades can happen during lunch hours or over the weekends. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown session for it to be a success. Pure made sure of that.