Adding storage to an IBM server using a non-IBM hard drive

Posted on 2012-08-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-09-05
Hey guys,

I have an x3200 IBM server, the maximum size drive that IBM will endorse for it is the IBM 300GB drive. Problem is, I have the 300's and they're full. I need to replace the physical disks rather than add NAS / SAN.
SO. Can I add any old 2.5" SAS drives to this box or do they REALLY need to be the IBM drives. The server is out of warranty, so support is not an issue as they won't help me anyway!
Question by:optimus_nz

Assisted Solution

comnuts earned 664 total points
ID: 38340184
Something for your consideration:

Personally, I have never done this before. But SAS being a standard, it should be possible. I wouldn't recommend it though.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 38340561
Yes you CAN add any drive.  However, if you don't program the mode pages correctly, you risk data and performance loss.  

There are hundreds of configurable parameters, some are easy to wrap your head around, like is the write cache enabled.  Others govern pre-fetch, # of retries, and settings related to timeouts.

If you have the right software to extrapolate the mode pages and reprogram them (this sort of thing isn't free) onto the new disk, then everything will be great.  But this is not the type of thing one can do w/o having the benefit of somebody who knows what is important.  Not every setting has direct translations.

So personally, I say pay the money for the IBM disks, unless you know how to use a mode page editor program (and have access to a JBOD controller); and/or you have enough disks to pay somebody to do this for you.

I would not just throw in seagate or hitachi drives and hope for the best.  People do this often, and things inevitably work fine ... UNTIL you have bad blocks or a drive failure.  Then those people tend to lose data.

IBM, HP, Dell and the others don't test or qualify disks that aren't programmed properly.  If your data isn't worth the added expense, then save the money and hope for the best.  If your data is worth protecting, then buy the right tool for the job, meaning the IBM drives.

Author Comment

ID: 38340673
Hi Dlethe,
it's not the expense - it's that one doesn't exist, IBM tell me the only make 300gb drives and don't endorse any other drives that go in this server. IBM have 500gb SAS 2.5" disks, but for whatever reason, they haven't tested / endorsed on these servers. I'm assuming because it's a bit older? I'm happy to buy an IBM drive to put in this server, I just want to get the right ones. If I get the 500gb IBM drives, will they have a better chance of working than a different model (assuming yes!)
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Expert Comment

ID: 38340713
My take, if you can find one refurbished one of that IBM 500GB SAS, go ahead and try that out. It should work. Once that is confirmed, you can safely buy the rest.
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

David earned 668 total points
ID: 38340727
If it isn't the expense, and you want safety over everything, buy an additional controller and continue using those drives.  Or buy a different controller, such as the LSI-branded controller and use generic seagate disks.
LVL 56

Accepted Solution

andyalder earned 668 total points
ID: 38340925
IBM do have 600GB SFF SAS disks, it's probably certified for your controller but not the partcular server as they don't tend to certify new parts for older boxes. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/x/options/storage/hddstorage/sas/browse.html

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