Can I use third party hard drives with Dell Powervault MD3000i?

We are thinking about purchasing a Dell Powervault MD3000i as a SAN solution. The price is affordable unless we have to purchase the hard drives through Dell (their hard drives at more than 3X the cost of third party sources. In the manual it says "Only Dell-provided physical dists are supported. Physical disks not purchased from Dell will be marked as uncertified and will not be usable". Has anyone used physical disks not purchased through Dell on their Powervault MD3000i? If so, what drive did you use?
mnedbalAsked:
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BiomedGeekCommented:
Yes, supports SAS and SATA drives. I'm guessing you are going the SAS route?
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mnedbalAuthor Commented:
Thank you for responding. Yes, I was aware that it supported SAS and SATA. But from Dell's documentation it makes it sound like they have some kind of code or chip that requires you to purchase the hard drives through Dell. I was wondering if that was true? We are in need of Terabytes of data storage but don't have beaucoup dollars. Therefore, we are looking at affordable SATA drives.
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BiomedGeekCommented:
Supported physical disks: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/md3000/en/supmatrx/md3000_A14.pdf

There are firmware updates at Dell's website for updating these physical disks.

Note: I have not actually tried this on an MD3000i. I am just giving my opinion from much experience with previous Dell hardware.
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BiomedGeekCommented:
Then again, Dell also says " Only trained service technicians are authorized to remove the enclosure cover and access any of the components inside the enclosure."  ;)

But I completely understand what you are saying, sorry for the lack of detail in my first response. I _believe_ that using a disk from that list and applying the firmware updates will make the disks compatible. I would be shocked if Dell altered all those drive models from various manufacturers other than adding a custom firmware.
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mnedbalAuthor Commented:
I was really hoping for someone with actual experience in using third-party drives. There is such a huge $ savings that I figured someone would have tested Dell drives versus third-party drives. Dell says that the manufacturer modifies the firmware of the drives in order to align the drives in RAID configurations. I have done this for my other servers (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929491) but was wondering if what Dell is telling me is true or just a marketing gimmick.
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BiomedGeekCommented:
It is very likely the manufacturer modifies the firmware, this is common for disks intended for arrays. However, if you read the manual I send and look around at Dell support questions, some of the disks shipped by Dell apparently have out of date firmware and will be rejected unless the firmware update is applied. This is just my best guess from prior Dell experiences and from reading between the lines of Dell's site/manuals. I hope you do find someone who has tried it though!
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andyalderSaggar maker's bottom knockerCommented:
It's very unlikely you'll get away with 3rd party disks, the MD3000i is made by LSI Logic and they invariably only accept disks with the right firmware, it's also extremely unlikely that the firmware update tool will update a disk that has not got Dell branded firmware on it in the first place.

I think you'll find the HP MSA2000i is cheaper than Dell MD3000i as long as you get a price from a reseller rather than straight off the web.
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mnedbalAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your assistance guys.
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jschillinger2Commented:
To clarify for anyone else finding this thread:  NO, you cannot use drives in the MD3000 family of storage arrays unless they have been purchased from Dell.  Even identical drives to those installed in the array or on the compatibility list will not work.  Apparently Dell does flash a custom firmware on the drive, and the controller rejects any drive without it.  Even though the firmware is available to download from Dell's support website, I have not found a way to flash it.  The manufacturer's drive utility will not recognize the Dell firmware.  I am still looking for a way around this myself...
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jobremskiCommented:
I too am in the same boat.  Dell's pricing is crazy.  The I bought exact same model # drives they supply (we bought a few sampel Dell drives and third party drives) and the only difference is the firmware.  If anyone find a firmware update tool or a way to crack the MD3000i firmware to allow unsupported or at least allow us to flash the the third party drives with the Dell drive firmware please post up.  I do not have a problem sacrificing an MD3000i or some drives to test a solution :)
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jobremskiCommented:
Or better yet a way to pull the firmware off a Dell branded drive to flash that over the exact same model third party drive.
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