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Learning DELL BIOS, PERC, RAID, ETC

Posted on 2011-03-01
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have worked in IT for about 21 years, but mostly with the same company and on IBM AS400/ISERIES equipment. I earned my MCSE NT 4.0 back in the 90's but the IT director we had at the time thought IBM was the preferable job and made me IT manager of the IBM equipment, giving me limited access to the basic DELL server builds. Things have changed, my old boss was let go and my new IT director is pro Microsoft. To save my own job I scrambled to get my MCSA in 2003, then MCITP SERVER 2008 and tried to prove myself in the Microsoft world. I was kept on as "desktop support" and I eventually was successful and being promoted to Junior Engineer. After about 4 months, we had a horrible system crash, most of which, I had nothing to do with, but we were in a crunch and emergency action had to be taken. My boss through some tasks at me, including rebuilding a RAID array. I was confused because all the RAID I had seen up until then had been software Microsoft RAID and I was not comfortable with the DELL bios. He was a little concerned at how fast I had to call DELL to get help setting up the RAID. I think I did pretty good, but apparently some of the fundamentals he assumed all engineers should know were lacking. Is there a cert or course that would get me up to speed on basic DELL hardware, building servers, RAID, ETC. I do not like being referred to as a "paper engineer" or "engineer with basic voids". Even though I have learned a lot about hardware RAID that last week I am sure there are other things I should know about compatible processors, memory, drive speed, etc. I want to correct this situation ASAP. All suggestions welcome....thanks
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Question by:Thor2923
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by:charlestasse
ID: 35007796
Your best bet is to go to Dell for training and receive your DCSE, Dell Certified Systems Engineer

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/services/tnc/dcee_pedge?c=us&l=en&cs=555
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by:wparrott
ID: 35007829
Hi.

Dell offers the type of training you are referring to but unfortunately it's through instructor-led courses at their Austin, TX campus. The do offer a few online courses but they are pretty basic and don't believe they will give you what you are looking for. Here's a link to the server classes:

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/services/tnc/dcee_pedge?c=us&cs=555&l=en&s=biz

Alternatively, you could purchase an older server off eBay and work with it (at home) to learn it yourself. Much cheaper than the instructor-led courses!

Hope this helps,

-W
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35008456
If you want a Dell breakdown of the basics, the Understanding Dell Servers and Systems Management section of the Dell training might be a good starting point:
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/ProductDetail.aspx?c=us&cs=555&l=en&sku=970-9878

parrot's suggestion is one I would have made ... you can get a 2850 on ebay for pretty cheap ... this one would allow you to become more familiar with RAID, DRAC, Systems Management, Dell system components, and common server components.  Also, this server will support all major Server OS's (2000, 2003, 2008, 2008R2), so you can get whatever OS/software training you might need as well.

If you are not already a subscriber, Technet is a great way to gain access to the OS's for training/testing purposes.
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by:Thor2923
ID: 35009392
thanks for all the good info everyone! I have presented a couple courses to my boss. Since I am here, let me ask this. The other day, I was told to pick up an older DELL poweredge 2950, we had laying around, and get a WINDOWS OS on it ASAP then load BACKUP EXEC, so it could be configured as a backup server. A higher level engineer took it from there. I did a basic install of WINDOWS 2008 standard 64bit and it all went smooth. I did the routine adding to domain, and got BACKUP EXEC loaded. I it had drive C, D and E. C and D were both 67GB and E was over 800 GB. I was told not to worry about all the execess drive space, just get the server online so a higher level engineer could take over and get Backup Exec working ASAP. I did go ahead and do a quick format so all the drive space was accessible, but in researching some of the web sites you have given me, I realized I did not set up any RAID. I know the 800 GB drive was made of up of 300 GB drives. Everything looks fine, but I did not go into he DELL BIOS, press CONTROL R or set up any RAID. The server previously had ESXi and was used as a virutal server. It was done by a level 3 engineer so was probably done right, but did I undo all the RAID with my WINDOWS install? If everything was RAIDED properly before, is it still intact? I do not think it is that important, but am trying to learn the correct way to set up a 2950. Should I have gone into the BIOS set up RAID?
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35009482
It is usually a good idea to delete and recreate the RAID when rebuilding a server ... just to make sure you're starting with a healthy array, but if you did not delete it, then the previous RAID configuration would have still been intact.
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by:charlestasse
ID: 35009490
If you install Open Manage Server Administrator, you will be able to see if RAID was configured or not

http://ftp.us.dell.com/sysman/OM-SrvAdmin-Dell-Web-WIN-6.4.0-1266_A00.18.exe
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35009500
If the previous config had been deleted or the original drives removed, then it is possible there was no RAID ONLY if using a SAS 5/6/iR RAID controller, as the PERC 5/6 cannot be left unconfigured.  You mentioned an 800GB chunk of Unpartitioned Space using 300GB drives ... this tells me they were configured in RAID, otherwise there would be a bunch of individual chunks of 300GB.
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PowerEdgeTech earned 334 total points
ID: 35009509
True ... after the fact, you can confirm it, but if you handed it off to someone and no longer have access to it to check and are just going off of memory wondering if you did it right ... my hints were based on that assumption.
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by:Thor2923
ID: 35010459
hey does this have to be loaded on server software? I tried installing it on my WIN7 workstation and it will not let me connect to the server, the login keeps failing even if i check ACTIVE DIRECOTRY or login with DOMAIN\USERNAME.   I am headed down where the server is now, I will probably try to load it directly
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35010889
Sorry ... is this the right thread?  If so, can you explain what you mean?  What are you trying to load?
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by:Thor2923
ID: 35012504
load=installed

http://ftp.us.dell.com/sysman/OM-SrvAdmin-Dell-Web-WIN-6.4.0-1266_A00.18.exe

load=install


sorry, I typed the above message when I was on my way out...anyway, I clicked the above link on my WIN7 workstation hoping it would set me up with the DELL server administrator, as suggested above. I installed it on my workstation and opened it. I see an field for HOSTNAME , USERNAME and PASSWORD and a box for ACTIVE DIRECTORY. I entered the hostname and IP address  of the server that I had the RAID question about. Then tried to login using my AD user name. I cannot seem to connect. It keeps telling me LOGIN FAILED. I was wondering if I was going about it wrong. Should I install the DELL SERVER ADMINISTRATOR directly on the server involved and not try to connect to it with a remote workstation?
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by:PowerEdgeTech
PowerEdgeTech earned 334 total points
ID: 35013338
Ok ... right!  

If you login remotely (as in https://servername:1311) using your AD credentials, you must put your AD username, AD password, select your Domain name from the dropdown, and leave the AD Login box UNchecked.  You must also be a Domain Admin, I believe.

Alternatively, you can login remotely using an account local to that machine ... just select the servername from the dropdown menu, and of course, leave the AD box unchecked.

If you can RDP into that server (and you are an admin), you can open OMSA from your RDP session ... just add your servername to the Intranet Zone first, and it won't even ask you for credentials.

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by:charlestasse
charlestasse earned 166 total points
ID: 35013404
Yes, this software is installed on the server
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35013512
Sorry ... that post really threw me off ... yes, the management software must go on the server, otherwise there is nothing running to connect to.  I didn't realize fully what you were asking until charles' comment.  I'm surprised it even let you install it on Windows 7.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Thor2923
ID: 35027974
Thanks everyone....I have the software loaded on the server and see the 3 RAID configs. 2 RAID 1 and one RAID 5.
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by:wparrott
ID: 35028768
Thor2923:

Glad to hear that you were able to install the software and hope that the answers you received will help you get the training you are looking for. Keep in mind that when you post a question you should reward points based on the answers you were given to the original question. In this case you began by asking about Dell server training and you were given answers to that question (mine among them). Later you asked a question about installing the Dell Management Console on a server you recently setup. Those should be treated as separate questions. I'm not complaining or protesting your choice to award points to the others. They did all the 'heavy lifting' in this thread. Just wanted to make you aware of it in the future.

-W
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by:Thor2923
ID: 35030396
ok, point noted,,,,I realize I kind of got off on a different subject and I often forget that some of you are looking for points ...i will try to grade more accurately in the future
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35030570
We, as Experts, often get caught up in the "conversation" and get off on tangents (or follow the tangents) without thinking about it.  We try to keep things on topic, but it doesn't always happen that way.  It's not necessarily for the points that we do it ... there was a pretty good conversation here on how to determine if the server was set up with RAID or not, but that conversation will probably never be found by someone looking for that information, since it was off of the original topic.  So, more for reference and posterity than anything.  For most of us though, the important thing is that we help you get your questions answered and problems solved :)
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by:wparrott
ID: 35031038
Poweredge, very well said and was the point I was trying to make.
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