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As noted here, Dell is no longer allowing 3rd party disks to be used with their latest servers. As in, they don't work period. Which means that if you buy one of these boxes and want to upgrade the storage later, you have buy disks from Dell at significant premiums.

Dell has just given me a very strong reason to take my server business elsewhere. My company buys (instead of leasing) our servers, and typically uses them for 5 years. I need to be able to upgrade/repurpose storage periodically, and do not want to be locked in to whatever Dell might have in stock, at inflated prices to boot. As you will see in the comments of the above link, it seems HP is doing the same thing.

I am looking for a server vendor that offers 3-5 year warranty with same day/next day onsite service, and allows me to use 3rd party disks.

Suggestions?

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+1 Thanks for pointing this out. Had not seen this before. –  Dave M Feb 10 '10 at 16:20
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They're what? How do they tell? That's quite frustrating. –  Bill Weiss Feb 10 '10 at 17:35
    
I think they use Dell specific drive firmwares, even though they are using Hitachi, Seagate, etc drives. I don't know much about the how. –  Alvin S Feb 10 '10 at 17:54
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I'll add that to my ever growing list of reasons not to buy Dell. Thanks. –  John Gardeniers Feb 10 '10 at 20:50
    
+1 Thanks, I also hadn't heard this and will add this to my list of reasons to try non-Dell servers. But please consider revising your question -- "Dell is no longer allowing 3rd party disks" is inaccurate FUD. -1 Your own link explicitly says it's only on some controllers. –  iPaulo Mar 19 '10 at 5:49

8 Answers 8

Supermicro.com do.

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Recently started using Supermicro Motherboards and kits for our servers. –  steve.lippert Feb 12 '10 at 16:17

For the same reason that I thought it was important to point out the problem, I think it's also important to point out that Dell announced that it was rolling back this policy, and that in the 2nd quarter of 2011, they will release a firmware update to the H700 and H800 controllers that allow 3rd party drives.

Thank you Dell. I'll be writing a new blog post when I get confirmation from Dell.

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sill - the very idea of promising clients removal of limitations quite far from today seems like a... really strange stunt. now more than before motivation behind introduction of limitation is obvious: to give temporary boost to sales of hard-disks re-branded by dell. –  pQd Apr 9 '10 at 12:40
    
Now this is a real reason not to buy dell anymore. If they can revise the policy, then there never was a technical necessity, so they simply tried funny stuff on customers. No thanks. –  deploymonkey May 23 '10 at 21:33
    
Also basically they say: you have to buy our disks for the initial setup and the relevant future and you can update what you want when the next hardware generation is out...I mean 2nd quarter 2011 is one year to go. I mean come on, what keeps dell from publishing the firmware now or doing it ASAP. –  deploymonkey May 23 '10 at 21:35

I've had pretty good luck with servers from Aberdeen. They are typically re-branded SuperMicro servers.

You may also want to look into Silicon Mechanics although they only offer 3 a year warranty.

Edit:
I should have also mentioned that Aberdeen sells on-site support contracts that are managed by a third party. They can tell you more about that if you contact them. I haven't had any experience with this so I can't comment on how good it is.

My experience with warranty issues with Aberdeen have mostly been drive and power supply failures. For drives I normally keep a hot-spare in the array and a cold spare on-site so dealing with this failure is't a big deal. With their XDAS storage stuff I've had a lot of PSU issues so I like to keep a cold spare PSU on site if possible. But they can normally overnight you parts.

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i just got mail from dell stating:

DELL H-SERIES CONTROLLER BLOCKING OF 3RD PARTY DRIVES TO BE REMOVED IN Q2FY11

Dell will no longer prevent customer use of non-Dell hard drives attached to PERC H700 and H800 controllers on our 11th generation of PowerEdge servers. A Q2FY11 PERC Firmware Update is planned to allow non-Dell hard drives to be used with these controllers.

which is sort-of good news for those who prefer to stick with dell.

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The new firmware is out that removes this restriction. H700 rev A2.

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I have used ASUS and Intel Servers and they allow 3rd party drives as well

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do we know,.. is it maker of drives? do different makes/models work or don't work? does dell have the drive makers add something to the firmware to allow it on there mobo/bios? has anyone gotten one of the boxes to test yet?, i'd love to know.

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The new RAID controllers look at the drives and blocks any that are not DELL Drives. standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/2010/02/… blog post about this issue. –  steve.lippert Feb 12 '10 at 16:16

I have several Dell PE R710s. The integrated RAID controller on the R710 warns you about the presence of non-dell drives, but allows you to use non-dell drives. The stand alone sysadmin post is talking about certain dell RAID controllers blocking access to non-dell drives.

One possible solution would be to avoid Dell raid controllers.

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