Updating Firmware on HPE ProLiant Servers Using Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP)

Similar to the previous post, this time around I will focus on HPE ProLiant servers. As usual, I made this post in hopes that someone will benefit from my experiences.

Below are the details of the servers and firmware version I used:

  • Target Server: ProLiant SL4540 Gen8, and ProLiant DL360p
  • Operating System: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 / 6.6
  • Firmware Upgrade Package: Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) Version 2016.10.0
  • Firmware Upgrade Package Release Date: October 2016

Theoretically, the steps mentioned here should work across the different models of the ProLiant server family. This is a unique advantage of having the SPP – previously one would need to go to each server’s product driver page to download the correct version for the firmware.

A TL;DR summary is as follows: Download the SPP and use the “HP USB Key Utility for Windows 2.0” to make a bootable USB key (tried Rufus, but it did not work). Boot the SPP image, and select “Interactive Firmware Update Version ”. The SPP comprises of 3 steps: 1) an INVENTORY of the SPP and and server will be done, 2) REVIEW the firmware to upgrade, 3) DEPLOYMENT of the new firmware, with server self-check. Once complete, reboot the server and remove the USB key – you’re all done!

Detailed instructions for the SPP can be found here: www.hpe.com/support/SPP_UG_en

Nitty gritty details below. First section is a list of the steps to be done, and second section comprises of troubleshooting steps I took for some errors encountered.

List of Steps

Step 1: Download the SPP

Firmware upgrades for the HPE ProLiant server family are bundled together to make up the SPP. On average, a new version is released every 6 months, with version number denoted as YYYY.MM (i.e. the release year and month). In 2016, the two releases were in April and October.

Unlike consumer products, you will require the following to download the SPP: 1) a HPE Support Center Account, and 2) an active warranty or support agreement covering Proliant servers that is linked to the HPE Support Center Account.

Signing up for the HPE Support Center Account is free. To get an active warranty or support agreement, you will have to link warranties, packaged support, or support agreements by providing information such as the server serial number/service tag and/or the purchase order. More instructions can be found on the website.

When you have successfully done that, you can then download the latest SPP (ISO format) at the HPE support site. The 2016.10 version that I worked with has a size of 6.52 GB.

Step 2: Download the HP USB Key Utility for Windows and make the USB Key

(Note: You can create a DVD with the image if an integrated/external optical drive is available)

There are two ways to obtain the HP USB Key Utility for Windows 2.0 – it is included in the SPP ISO image (mount as a virtual drive and extract the executable), or download it from the official HP product page. 

Creating the bootable USB with the utility is fairly straight forward – after agreeing to the EULA, select the source (i.e. the SPP ISO format that was downloaded), and the destination drive letter. The utility will format the USB drive before creating a bootable image of the SPP in the USB drive.

Pro Tip: Depending on the type of ProLiant servers you have, there may be USB ports at both the front and back of the servers. It takes about 30 minutes for the entire process, with the bulk of it spent on the installation phase. If the server rack door cannot be closed with the “normal” USB stick size, do consider using low profile USB drives.

Step 3: Shutdown the Server and/or Boot from USB Key from Step 2

Reboot the server if it is running. During the boot screen, press F11 to enter the Boot Menu. In the Boot Menu, select option 3 for a one-time boot from a USB key. After the SPP has been loaded, select Interactive Firmware Update Version .

(Note: I tried the automatic option, but it seemed to hang the server during the firmware deployment stage)

Step 4: Follow the HP Smart Update Manager of the SPP

The HP Smart Update Manager interface should load. Select the “Firmware Update” option (if prompted).

Firmware Update – Step 1 of inventorying the baseline (i.e. the SPP) and the node (i.e. the server itself) will begin. When it has completed, the “Next” button will become clickable.

In Firmware Update – Step 2, review the list of firmware upgrades detected. If the version in the SPP is newer than the version in the server, the update will be automatically selected for deployment. If the versions are identical, the update will not be selected, but you can force it to be deployed (i.e. reinstall). Usually it is safe to just go with the suggested actions.

In Firmware Update – Step 3, the deployment of firmware will take place, and the server will do a self-check at the end to ensure that everything has been installed correctly. In my case, it took around 50 minutes for this entire step to complete. After which, the reboot button will appear/be clickable. 

Step 5: Reboot the Server and Remove the USB Key

Trigger a reboot of the system using the software button on screen, and remove the USB Key when the server is doing a POST.

Step 6: You’re done! 🙂


Troubleshooting Errors Encountered

The server hangs while doing the self-check after firmware deployment

  • Error Message
    • “Please Wait, analyzing the system….”
    • But mouse is responsive
  • Solution
    • Reboot server and re-run the SPP again

2 thoughts on “Updating Firmware on HPE ProLiant Servers Using Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP)

  1. Thanks for this informational post.
    Had 6 updates selected, took around 20 minutes for me.
    Just to add some reference material.


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