How to Upgrade Cisco Prime Virtual Appliance from 3.2 to 3.4

It’s important to stay up to date on your infrastructure software appliances. This should be obvious, but it bears repeating. Updates not only bring new features and better UI but also security fixes and improve hardware compatibility.

The first thing we need to do before any upgrade or update is perform proper backups of Prime. If you’ve already configured this, great. If not, let’s go over that real quick.

Related: Configure Cisco Prime TACACS+ Authentication w/ ISE 2.4

How to Set Up SFTP Repository in Cisco Prime

I prefer SFTP over FTP for performing backups. I make use of SolarWinds Free SFTP server running as a service on a virtual server dedicated to storing backups of infrastructure equipment. SolarWinds Free SFTP server is lightweight, easy to install and configure, and free. Though, you can use any SFTP software that you prefer.

  1. Setup your SFTP software and the appropriate user account and password for writing to your SFTP root directory.
  2. Optionally create a folder in your SFTP root directory for Prime to backup too. This is just to keep your SFTP root directory tidy. I created a folder named PRIMEBackups.
  3. SSH into your Prime server. In case you forgot (like I did) you have to use the Admin account, not the root or any TACACS accounts, to successfully authenticate via SSH.
  4. Run the following commands, using the IP of your SFTP server and the folder you created:
    PRIME/admin(config)# repository YourRepositoryName PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# url sftp://RemoteServerIP//Folder PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# user YourUserName password plain YourUserPassword PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# exit PRIME/admin(config)# exit PRIME/admin(config)# copy run start
    As an example, here is what I ran:
    PRIME/admin(config)# repository BACKSERV_SFTP PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# url sftp:// PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# user Admin password plain MyP@$w0rd! PRIME/admin(config-Repository)# exit PRIME/admin(config)# exit PRIME/admin(config)# copy run start
  5. Run the following command to connect to your repository and view its contents to verify it works:
    PRIME/admin(config)# show repository BACKSERV_SFTP % Repository is empty

As you can see I received the % Repository is empty result which means it connected successfully. If it had not I would have received a % Repository not found response.

How to Backup Up Cisco Prime

Now that we have our repository we can perform a backup of Prime. There two types of backups, Application and Appliance. Application backs up application data and settings. Appliance backup backs up cli settings, linux os credentials, network settings, etc… We can perform the Application backup one of two ways, using the GUI or through the CLI. I’ll go over both.

How to Backup Cisco Prime Application via GUI

  1. Navigate to Administration -> Dashboards -> Job Dashboard.
  2. Click on System Jobs -> Infrastructure
  3. Check the box next to Server Backup and click the Edit button (pencil icon)
  4. Select the repository you created earlier from the drop down box and click Save. Optionally, you can also fill in a key to use to encrypt the backup (not a bad idea, just don’t lose the key).
  5. Check the box next to Server Backup again and click Run

As a side note, this would be a good time to establish routinely scheduled backups by checking Server Backup and clicking on Edit Schedule. This way you always have a backup available should you forget to run one manually before making big changes.

How to Backup Cisco Prime Application via CLI

  1. SSH into your Prime server and run the following command:
    PRIME/admin# backup MyBackup repository BACKSERV_SFTP application NCS

MyBackup is the name you wish to use for your backup file and BACKSERV_SFTP is the name of your repository you set up earlier.

Regardless of which method you use, the backup can take up to 30 minutes to complete so now would be a good time to take a coffee break.

How to Backup Cisco Prime Appliance

The Appliance backup can only be performed at the CLI.

  1. SSH into your Prime server and run the following command:
    PRIME/admin(config)# backup MyBackup repository BACKSERV_SFTP

    MyBackup is the name you wish to use for your backup file and BACKSERV_SFTP is the name of your repository you set up earlier.

You can verify your backup files are present in your repository by running:

PRIME/admin# show repository YourRepositoryName

I also utilize VEEAM in my production and lab environments to perform image level backups of my VMs and virtual appliance in an application consistent state so I have that extra layer of protection as well should the upgrade go south (unlikely but always possible).

How to Inline Upgrade Cisco Prime 3.2 to 3.4

Cisco Prime supports inline upgrades of 3.1.x, 3.2.x, and 3.3.x to 3.4. This means you don’t have to stand up a new appliance and migrate data, saving gobs of time.

  1. Download the upgrade file for Prime 3.4 (or whichever version you’re upgrading to). I found my file at The file we need is the 3.x to 3.4 upgrade installer tar.gz file.
  2. Place the file in your SFTP server’s root folder.
  3. Log into Prime and remove any HA Configuration from your Prime Infrastructure by going to Administration -> Settings -> High Availability -> HA Configuration and clicking Remove. I’m not using HA so I will skip this step.
  4. Log into the console cli of your Prime server.
  5. Run the following command to copy the upgrade file from your SFTP root folder to your Prime Server’s built in default repo:
    PRIME/admin# copy SFTP:// disk:/defaultRepo

In the above example SFTP:// is the url of my SFTP server and PI_BUNDLE- is the file name of the upgrade file I copied to my SFTP root folder.

  1. Enter the username and password for your SFTP server to connect and begin the file copy.
  2. Confirm the file is in the default repo by running:
    PRIME/admin# show repository defaultRepo
  3. If the file is there we are good to begin the application update. Run the following command to start the update:
    PRIME/admin# application upgrade PI_BUNDLE- defaultRepo
  1. After running the command you’ll be asked if you want to Save the current ADE-OS running configuration. Answer Yes.
  2. You’ll then be asked if you wish to proceed after being reminded to have a good backup. Answer Yes again to finally begin the upgrade. The upgrade status will print to the console window similar to the below output.
    DO NOT press ^C while the upgrade is in progress
    Aborting upgrade with a ^C may leave the system in a unrecoverable state
    Initiating Application Upgrade...
       Stage 1 of 7: Transferring file ...
       -- complete.
       Stage 2 of 7: unpacking file ...
       -- complete
    ** System will reboot after a successful installation of this package ***
    After reboot, please login again into the server to check status
       Stage 3 of 7: Executing pre-install ...
       -- complete.
       Stage 4 of 7: Upgrading binaries ...
       -- complete.
       Prime Application installation completed
       Stage 5 of 7: Executing post-install ...

Be warned that it can take up to a couple hours for the upgrade to complete depending on your database size. If everything goes according to plan the upgrade should be pretty uneventful. You might want to grab your lunch and kick back for a bit.

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Chase Smith, CCNP

Chase Smith, CCNP is a Network Engineer III who has spent the last decade elbow deep in enterprise system administration and networking. He can usually be found trying to warm up behind the storage in the datacenter.

5 thoughts on “How to Upgrade Cisco Prime Virtual Appliance from 3.2 to 3.4

  • June 14, 2019 at 10:26 AM

    Hi. The screenshot you have indicates the backup command is run in config mode, when it actually has to be run in privilege mode. Just wanted to mention this, as it threw me off at first. Thanks.

  • September 19, 2019 at 1:28 PM

    Aren’t you supposed to run ncs stop before the application upgrade?

  • February 25, 2020 at 9:23 PM

    Useful information regarding the prime upgrade from the CLI using SFTP


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