One of the servers I inherited in my current position was marked to be decommissioned, as it has been replaced by a new server (everything has already been moved across). The first problem I faced was the poor performance of the ERP package. It turns out that the new server is actually a significantly lower spec than the old one and the main reason for the "upgrade" was that they were constantly running out of disk space on the old server. I now want to move the ERP package back and get performance back to where it was previously.

The server in question is a xSeries 346 model 8840-31Y. As for the drives (currently 4 x 36GB as RAID 5 plus hot spare) the IBM web site states: Up to 1.8 TB hot-swap Ultra320 SCSI HDD storage.

I haven't obtained the price for IBM branded drives yet but past experience suggests I need to be sitting down and holding on when I do. As generic drives are much cheaper, and this is a small company where everything needs to be done as economically as possible, does anyone here know if I can replace the IBM drives with generics? I know there can be problems when drives with different firmware revisions are mixed but in this case I will be swapping the entire set.

Not that it should make any difference but the OS is Windows 2003 Std.

Edit: I forgot to mention, these have to be 15K RPM. 10K are too slow for the application.


I've replaced vendor-provided SCA disks with generic ones on Sun, HP and IBM boxen, with no technical issues at all. Generally the vendor disks are just generic disks from Seagate, Fujitsu etc with an vendor sticker slapped on, and a 200% markup.

Note that using a non-vendor supplied disk, memory or other component may interfere with any future support you need from IBM, ie at worst it may invalidate any support agreement you have with IBM for that server, at best the techie will say "there's your problem!" and refuse to fix it until you replace the disk wth an IBM-blessed, technically identical one. If you need a support agreement from IBM, I'd stay with vendor-supplied disks.

If you're going to go ahead anyway, make sure you order the right kind of disks, ie with the right connector. eg hot-swap UltraSCSI disks usually have the "SCA" connector on them rather than separate power/data connectors.

Provided you reuse the IBM specific disk mounting bracket from your existing disk, it should work perfectly with the replacement disk. IBM can sell you spare brackets if need be (at insane prices.) or you might be able to get them off ebay.

  • No support agreement on this one, so that's not an issue. These are indeed SCA drives and plug straight into the backplane. Jul 16 '09 at 2:59
  • +1 I've done this before as well, with no issues.
    – Bill B
    Jul 16 '09 at 3:50

We've got an 8-year-old IBM server with original IBM disks and they've never failed, so they're certainly reliable.

That said, the IBM disks are just Maxtor's with maxtor scratched off (or sometimes, not even that).

You should be fine with third party drives, just make 100% sure that they're going to be compatible. There's a few SCSI standards out there (LVD, SCA, etc) so make sure you do your homework first.

  • No complaints about the reliability, just the capacity. If I had a vacant slot I'd just get one more, which would be enough for the foreseeable future. Jul 16 '09 at 2:08

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