Third-party drives not permitted on Gen 11 servers

Preston Hagar prestonh at
Wed Feb 10 14:24:49 CST 2010

On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 2:01 PM, Peter Kjellstrom <cap at> wrote:
> On Tuesday 09 February 2010, William Warren wrote:
>> On 2/9/2010 5:17 PM, Howard_Shoobe at wrote:
>> > Thank you very much for your comments and feedback regarding exclusive
>> > use of Dell drives. It is common practice in enterprise storage solutions
>> > to limit drive support to only those drives which have been qualified by
>> > the vendor.  In the case of Dell's PERC RAID controllers, we began
>> > informing  customers when a non-Dell drive was detected with the
>> > introduction of PERC5 RAID controllers in early 2006. With the
>> > introduction of the PERC H700/H800 controllers, we began enabling only
>> > the use of Dell qualified drives.
>> >
>> > There are a number of benefits for using Dell qualified drives in
>> > particular ensuring a positive experience and protecting our data.
> ...
>> This is common reasoning given for any vendor that starts practicing
>> lock-in.  Dell has just gone down that road.  I'll either not buy Dell
>> servers OR order them without your controllers and use some of my own.
> If they'll allow you to use non-Dell controllers...
> /Peter

As an anecdote, the company I worked for ordered a MD1000.  We are a
fairly small company with 6 servers (some Dell, some not) in
production.  Like some of the other people who have posted to this
list, we have to keep using our servers as long as they are working
and can perfom the required tasks.  We don't get to buy new ones just
because our warranty ends or there is something new and shiny out.

At the time we ordered our MD1000, we had two, new 1U HP servers that
were not in use and were more than adequte for our needs.  Before
ordering the MD1000, we had Dell staff confirm to use that it had
"standard SAS connections".  We bought a couple of LSI SAS cards
(knowing that the PERCs were basically rebranded LSI cards with Dell
"mojo" installed on them) and ordered the MD1000.   Since the MD1000
would be responsible for our most important data and databases, we got
the highest level of support offered (24x7 4 hour on-site response) on
it.  We used it for a while with no issues and even used our own
drives in addition to the 2 we originally ordered from Dell with it.
All was well until it stopped seeing any new drives we put into it.

We called Dell support.  We were first told that since were running a
non-Dell supported Linux (ubuntu) that we would have to boot to their
Live CD to do testing, which we did.  We did a little testing with no
immediate clues as to the issue and were then told that since we were
using a non-Dell server, it wouldn't be supported.  We got a Dell
server and hooked it up with one of our LSI cards.  We were then told
that since we didn't have a Dell PERC card in it, it wasn't supported,
so we switched in a PERC card.  Then we were told it wouldn't be
supported because we didn't have drives from Dell with Dell firmware
in it.  Luckally after all this time, we figured out the issue (you
can't combine SAS and SATA drives on the same enclosure side without
the Dell firmware and their special interposer boards), so we just
told Dell to forget it and split the enclosure and used SAS in half
and SATA in the other half.

What this taught us is that unless we were 100% "Dell solutions" all
the way thorugh, we could expect no help from them, so we just didn't
renew our MD1000 service contract and never buy any upgraded service
plans anymore.

As many have said, if they want to not support third party drives or
even have a warning that goes by at boot or something, that is fine,
but they should still allow the drives. It is my opinion (and maybe I
am wrong) that a large majority of Dell's server business is small to
medium businesses.  Basically the people who can't afford IBM, Sun,
high-end HP, etc. but need a few, good reliable servers.  If they
decide to commit to this route where they are the sole provider for
drives, then I know my company will have to look elsewhere.  The crazy
markup plus the fact that I can't be guarenteed that I will still be
able to get a drive at a reasonable price in a few years makes it
where I couldn't commit.

I know my company probably doesn't matter a lot to Dell, we probably
only buy 1-2 servers a year at most and maybe 2-3 desktops, but if
every small business similar to mine starts switching, I would bet
that would start to add up.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


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