Upgrading an SBS from SAS 5ir card to PERC 6i

Hi all,

I have a Dell Poweredge 840 which currently has a SAS 5i controller in it, which hosts two volumes over four disks - the first is a 250GB mirror with the OS on it, the second a 1TB mirror with the data on it.  The performance of the controller has now got so bad (no write-caching unless you are feeling extremely brave due to no battery backup), it needs upgrading.  So we are replacing it with a PERC 6i with battery backup.

I am trying to think of the best way of going about the upgrade.  If I install the PERC then start up the OS to install the drivers, will it prevent the SBS from blue screening if I then take the SAS out and put the PERC in its place (having created the array again of course)?  I have a horrible feeling if I try this, it will result in a boot-looping SBS that will require a reinstall from scratch.

The other option I suppose is to migrate the SBS into a VM, install the new controller and disks, then put VMware on it, then run the SBS as a VM.  This is more tempting but I am wondering if it may be overkill (we wanted to get the whole server onto VMware anyway)?

Any advice you could give - especially if you've ever done the same thing as I'm about to do - would be appreciated.

Many thanks!
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Firstly, if you're going to recreate the array (which you will need to do) you destroy all the data on those disks so you will need some sort of backup-restore process (and do a second backup with whatever you use for backups just in case) to get it back on and a way of knowing Windows has the necessary drivers to boot from the new controller.

As this is SBS2003 you will need a tool like Acronis Backup and Recovery with Universal Restore which is what we use.  You back up your server to USB drive, then when you do the restore you can provide the drivers for the new controller and job done.  This is the easiest but requires the Acronis boot disk (i.e. a license, http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/advanced-server/, make sure you take the universal restore option as well).

I guess technicall you could use NTBackup and go through the manual restore process for each component of the server, but good grief I wouldn't want to do that.

There are other server imaging packages out there that do the same thing, server image restore to dissimilar hardware.  If you were using SBS2008 you could simply backup using Windows Backup and it will handle the hardware changes without issues.

I would recommend staying away from virtual machine for an SBS server as it's a company's primary server

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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Install the RAID card and boot. Install the drivers into the OS when prompted.

Shutdown and as long as both controllers are LSi you can plug the drives into the 6i and the array will be picked up as foreign.

Say yes to importing and the OS should boot with no issues. Make sure the old card is removed before booting the OS.

chris3879Author Commented:
Thanks both.  Ebooyens, that seems like sensible advice.

MPECSInc - have you done this yourself successfully or is it an "in theory" answer?  It seems too easy to go without hitch...

Thanks again!
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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:

Intel RAID products use the same LSi structures as the Dell branded RAID products.

We are able to move RAID configurations between on board LSi and RAID on Chip adapters.

So, it is my expectation that their products would behave the same under the Dell brand.

Mirrored drives are easy to work with anyway as one can take one of the drives and boot from it.

Make sure the backup is good!

I wasn't aware that would work but makes sense and definitely worth a shot, assuming your backup is sound...
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Note that migrating Virtual Disks from a SAS 5/6 to a PERC 5/6 is NOT supported for Windows operating systems:

Best method is indeed to backup and restore to a newly-created array on the PERC.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Indeed, I stand corrected at least for Dell product.

Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
So, to follow up, we would back up using ShadowProtect and then use the Hardware Independent Restore process to restore the partitions to the newly configured arrays.

We have done this a lot with good results.

chris3879Author Commented:
Thanks everyone for your comments, much appreciated.

In the end the client decided to go for the VM scenario for future failover purposes so we P2V'd the box and installed ESXi on the box once the new RAID card was in.  Then got the SBS up and running as a VM.

The performance of it is actually far better now, running as a VM with the PERC 6 than it was as a physical machine with the SAS 5i (even with write caching enabled) so good results all round.

Thanks again for your help - I will split the points between all of you.

Thanks for the points
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