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Non-Dell drives in a PowerVault 3200i

Posted on 2015-01-12
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Hi, we just purchased our first SAN from Dell (3200i). In an effort to save money, we only bought two 1TB drives from them and purchased 12-4TB SAS drives from another source at about 1/3 of the cost. Now the SAN is saying the drives are incompatible. I called Dell and they said they have a flag in the firmware that won't allow a non-Dell drive to work. Anyone have a workaround for this?
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Question by:OGDITAdmin
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by:PowerEdgeTech
PowerEdgeTech earned 333 total points
ID: 40544808
You could try to force flash one or the other, but it's about a 50/50 game bricking the device. Should have checked on compatibility with your vendor first - any vendor or manufacturer could probably have told you they won't work. Most high-end storage solutions have "certified" drives and block uncertified drives as there is no way they can guarantee the integrity of their product otherwise. Dell's 11G server controllers originally blocked uncertified drives but was eventually lifted, but the block was never lifted from their storage appliances.
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by:OGDITAdmin
ID: 40544824
We have seven PowerEdge blade servers and we use nothing but non-Dell drives exclusively because of the price Dell charges for slapping their name on the exact same drive. We are in the process of returning the SAN back to Dell and we will be asking them the compatibility question when we make future server purchases (two more this year) and will jump to another vendor if they do a similar practice on their servers. If they asked for a 10% markup on their drives instead of a 200-300% markup, we would buy their drives. It is hard to explain why the drives cost more than the actual SAN.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
PowerEdgeTech earned 333 total points
ID: 40544843
Don't buy Dell drives from Dell. Buy Dell drives from suppliers. I don't understand why Dell thinks they need to mark them up so high, but you can get the exact same Dell-certified drives (not just the same model) from third-parties for a fraction of what Dell charges.

Dell server controllers do NOT block non-certified drives.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40544988
Yet another reason I've stopped buying and recommending Dell.

That said, if you want to use this hardware, even if there is a way of doing what you're asking, you would be unwise to do it.  Your data (unless you really don't care about it), needs to be on a Supported system that you can get help with in the event of failure.  While Dell's products and support has turned to crap (they think 5 MB/s read speed on a RAID controller is good enough to sell it), there can still be instances where you having the supported configuration will result in support resolving an issue rather than you getting frustrated and Dell refusing to help at all.
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by:andyalder
ID: 40546348
>Dell server controllers do NOT block non-certified drives.

True but MD3200i isn't made by Dell, it's an LSI (now NetApp) Engenio. Several other server vendors rebadge them too but the firmware is specific to the vendor, you can't put IBM DS4000 disks in them either even though they're Engenios too.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 40546611
>Dell server controllers do NOT block non-certified drives.
True but MD3200i isn't made by Dell
Yes, but "Dell server controllers" aren't made by "Dell" either - they are rebranded LSI too.
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by:OGDITAdmin
ID: 40546711
Any recommendations for a SAN on the scale of the 3200i ($7K without drives)? Want something that isn't proprietary.
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andyalder earned 167 total points
ID: 40547488
Take a look at Infortrend EonStor and EonStor DS http://www.infortrend.com, last time I installed one I had to provide my own disks.
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Author Closing Comment

by:OGDITAdmin
ID: 40560279
Thanks for the input. We will try to flash one of the existing drives first and if that fails, we will buy the Dell certified drives from a lower price vendor (probably one at a time to make sure the SAN recognizes them). Thanks again for the tips.
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