back to article Dell servers block un-Dell HDDs

Dell is barring the use of non-Dell-qualified hard drives on its newest PowerEdge servers, after years of allowing such drives to be installed with only a warning. Yesterday, the company confirmed the change on a mailing list run by the Dell Linux Engineering team. On the mailing list, a poster asked why his 11th generation …


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  1. Ammaross Danan


    "Note the creative use of the word "enabling" to explain a change that disables."

    Actually, Dell (arguably) built the hardware, thus determining what it was "enabled" to do. They chose to "enable" it to run qualified hard drives. If you buy it, you accept what it is allowed to do, downside and all. If I bought a scooter and complained that it wasn't able to go 90mph, or bought an iPad and complained that it couldn't run my Calendar AND Email at the same time (yes I just had to throw it in), then who's fault is it? Mine obviously for purchasing an item that has obvious limitations. Granted, a RAID controller is expected to run any interface-compatible drive attached to it, but now that it's known it can only run Dell-branded drives, it's now on the end-user for buying it.

    I just feel sorry for them when they try to put a nice new SAS-enabled flash drive in there... Good luck finding a decent price at Dell.

    1. mariushm

      No longer compatible

      Well, SAS and SATA groups should revoke Dell's license and no longer allow them to advertise that their servers support SATA or SAS drives.

      Just like music labels are not allowed to use "Audio CD" or "Compact Disc" logo with discs that are not according to standard.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I don't see it

      I think your analogy stinks. It's more like, oh, trying to drive a green lorry on the Queen's motorways and suddenly finding out the hard way only blue ones are allowed. ``Because only blue passed our visibility tests.'' Wonderful. NOW you're telling me.

      And to me therein lies the rub: They issued an annoying, habitually ignored warning before, but block now, and apparently didn't announce that they were going to do so. Meaning that customers bought kit that doesn't do what they expected it to do and the change is artificial. Had dell announced it loud and clear before, I'd still think they stink but otherwise have no beef with them. As it is, it merely strengthens my resolve to stay away from them like they were producing compaq desktops, because you never know what their whim will have their kit suddenly stop doing.

    3. Thomas Davie


      The amusing thing being that an iPad or an iPhone *can* run your email and calendar at the same time.

      It's only 3rd party apps that can't multitask. iCal and Mail both being written by apple are allowed to (and do) background.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Not that obvious, actually

      Dell didn't _build_ the hardware. They simply assembled commodity parts. The PERCs they're locking down are just rebadged LSI cards with Dell-branded firmwares. Now I don't know anything about Dell's technical crew but I don't imagine they know how to get more performance out of or add extra instruction sets to the hardware than the people who actually designed the cards in the first place.

      Therefore I don't know what it is Dell think they're adding or requiring by flashing the drives (also designed and firmware'd by the people who built them) and locking down their _commodity_ parts.

    5. serviceWithASmile

      dont be so naiive

      its just vendor lock in, nothing to do with whether or not someone has the right to moan about it, or indeed whether or not the HDD's are any good or not.

      also, if dell only told people about it via their mailing list, I don't think that counts as "obvious"

  2. Nate Amsden

    great news

    I think it's great news myself. If someone wants to be cheap and supply their own disks, well there are a near infinite number of white box server companies out there that will be happy to try to support your needs.

    Myself I want something tested, certified etc. Often times there is custom firmware that vendors use to improve compatibility and/or performance between the disks and controllers.

    If I want to be cheap I will go buy or build a supermicro system with a 3ware raid card or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Pray tell

      How does blocking other people from using their (non-dell) choice of drives help of hurt your choice to go with dell-approved kit? IOW, why is another man's woe great news for you?

    2. N2


      One of my servers has an Asus MB, 3ware raid with a bunch of WD Raptors, run for six years without any problems and just over half the price of similar spec'd Dell at the time.

      Take aim at foot...

    3. Anonymous Coward


      "If I want to be cheap I will go buy or build a supermicro system with a 3ware raid card or something."

      I think you'll find that a Dell Perc card and a 3Ware card are made my the same company: LSI.

      If I was in a position that my disks were no longer supported I'd be more inclined to pull out the Perc card and replace it with the un-re-badged unlocked LSI equivalent.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    tee hee

    Back in the day when DEC was a computer company, they didn't half catch a load of flak for saying that non-DEC stuff "wasn't supported". In fact, arguably Systime went out of business because of it but that's another story.

    Supported or not, at least it used to mostly work (unless you were doing clever stuff like SCSI clusters, where the rough edges on unqualified drives might actually have visible effects).

    And now, some considerable time later, Dell are actually blocking the use of non-authorised (non-Dell?) drives.

    How odd. Anybody would think that they wanted to be able to rip off their captive customers (well that's what folks used to say about DEC, whether or not it was justified).

  4. Nordrick Framelhammer

    Dell, doing something to disadvantage their customers?

    Surely not!

    It is not as if they are having to move to a bricks and mortar sales method due to falling turnover or anything like that and it is not as if this wqill generate extra income for them by forcingt people to buy overpriced drives because there is a little Dell logo on it.

    Oh, wait, never mind. I forgot who we are talking about here. All this will do is drive customers away from Dell even more, due in no small part toi the normal Dell approach to customer service, in this case being none.

  5. Jason Togneri

    Title goes here

    "It's unclear whether his description of customer's data as "our data" was a merely a typo or a Freudian slip."

    I suspect it's neither. It's more likely he was using it in the same sense as the royal "we" - and that "our data" refers to "us", meaning Dell PowerEdge users, including those on the Dell team. Or are you trying to imply that Dell developers don't run their own datacentres on their own hardware, thus making them invalid as recipients of their own strategies?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dell's rules

      "Or are you trying to imply that Dell developers don't run their own datacentres on their own hardware, thus making them invalid as recipients of their own strategies?"

      I think the point is, Dell can very well choose to only install what they deem to be compatible hard drives in *their* servers, but stay the hell away from *mine*.

  6. Ball boy Silver badge

    So. Dell make HDD now, do they?

    ...if they did, I might understand their position. However, a better stance might have been to allow third-party (meaning: non Dell tested) disks but under a blanket understanding that fitting a non-approved drive could void your maintenance contract.

    A ban like this - and especially the rather crude attempt to explain it as an 'enabling' manoeuvre - will leave a bitter taste in the mouth and isn't particularly helpful to anyone other than Dell's bottom line. Actually, given the added hassle and questioning emails this will raise, what they make on the hardware, they'll lose in extra 'soft' costs in account management and support. Couple that with the inevitable (albeit rather predictable) backlash this will provoke amongst existing users and I have to ask myself: would I bother making a move like this and could I have handled it better if I felt I had to do something? Answers on a postcard.

    1. Michael C


      "a better stance might have been to allow third-party (meaning: non Dell tested) disks but under a blanket understanding that fitting a non-approved drive could void your maintenance contract."

      This is exactly what IBM is in trouble for with their mainframes, refusing to allow the use of commodity or 3rd party components. Yes, they can refuse to SUPPORT your kit once you use a 3rd party piece with it, but they can not legally BLOCK you from using a part that meets the industry spec you advertise to support through a logo on the chassis.

      HP, EMC, and Hitachi get away with this in their SAN systems be refusing to sell disk shelves that don;t come half or fully populated with drives. Dell has no such restriction, as Dell's storage is far from Enterprise class, and people who only need a basic RAID 5 of a couple TBs are not going to buy a fully populated rack shelf of 16 disks to do it.

      That said, if Dell's per-disk pricing was market equivalent, and they offered price matching from any competing vendor, the courts might overlook this, but charging 3-04 times the standard rate, that's insane.

      Wh pay between $5 and $20 per terabyte for our SAN storage, depending on Tier and how mmuch we buy in one purchase (usually in blocks of 5TB for us at the moment), but that's for PRESENTED storage, includes the Rack Shelfs, deduplication licensing, visualized storage licensing, replication, etc. 1TB of presented Tier 0 replicated storage on 15K FC drives actually gets us 3 shelves full of drives (of which 1TB is presented, striped across 14 disks per tray, RAID 10, online spare parity drives, and the extra capacity left over gets licensed and turned on next time we bey more...)

  7. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Thumb Up

    DELL is a retailer.

    Dell is getting back to their retail roots in anticipation of Businesses heading for the Clouds and buying less hardware. This may or may not be what actually happens. They are betting that the residual value of "unsupported" hardware is zero (so say the accountants), and that the remedy is to buy "supported" hardware (for the buyers). This strategy can pay off nicely with large, non-industry customers too cheap to hire qualified engineers to counter the hidden wizards that Dell must obviously have somewhere who have carefully compared the specifications to determine which drives qualify for "support". The wizards are shy folk, and unfortunately way too busy to explain their wizard methods. IBM chained this for a good 30 years, if there is ever a Hall of Fame. Compaq did it not so well with expensive plastic parts in tight spaces. Cell phone guys never did anything different, and it will be a cold day in Hell, or a voltage spec on a power supply +/- 1 ppm, when they do. Windows has always had Pharmaceutical Grade R&D accounting andcouldl join IBM in the Hall of Fame if XP would just go away and take SQL Server with it.

  8. mlo0352

    What is it?

    What is it about computer companies trying to limit users to their own hardware. Don't they realize that it really hurts their image with intelligent users? I hate the fact that they don't really care about their customers. Look at the iPad for example, using non-standard connection types that disallow the use of non-apple certified hardware. It's ridiculous.

    And I agree, it isn't up to them to make your data secure, it's up to you.

  9. Gary F

    Get the PERC6i and you'll avoid this issue

    We have 11th gen models with the PERC6i RAID controller and this config still warns, it does not block. So the trick is to get the PERC6i if you're thinking of adding your own drives.

    We ordered a couple of extra drives from Dell after we purchased the server and the price wasn't that much more than the average retail price if you take into account that Dell will include the caddies (if you ask for the "drive kit") which would otherwise cost you an extra £30 per drive (inc p&p) if you were buying the drives from elsewhere.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Ivan Slavkov

      Even easier for me

      I never buy Dell period.

      Finding out that they changed the wiring on an ATX power supply to be different from the standard 7 years back was pretty much enough. It is a vendor which has been permanently banned from my shortlist.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Wise choice

      I Like Dell hardware though, it keeps me busy replacing things and recovering lost data for clients who thought it was good.

      Dell RAID, for people who have confidence in backup solutions.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Very nice move.

    <rant> Considering the number of hours I have spent finding a way to actually use all the drive bays built into one of my customers' Dell servers (they had ordered the drives. They forgot to order the cable connecting them to the controller), I'm on the brink of going off Dell altogether. Their sales people told me one can only get the connecting cable (which includes a Y-cable for power...) with the appropriate number of drives. No drives ordered, no cable. So why can I order the drives pre-installed without getting the cable? Michael D., please enlighten me.

    My attempts at crimping together the missing pieces of wiring have been stopped cold for almost a year now, because the female connectors I need for the power feed Y cable are not available; the supplier insists they are on order and I am going to be the two hundred somethingth customer who will be supplied once the elusive container containing them arrives in Europe.

    Back to Dell. I managed to sweet-talk them into sending me a "replacement" connecting cable. Which, unfortunately, does not include the Y-bit for the power supply. And the power converter has only one outlet for hard discs. Here's my problem: that server was ordered with four hard disks. Somehow, it seems to be impossible to supply more than two of those with power. And my question: is there anybody at Dell who actually thinks before sending out quite expensive hardware that somehow only works about 74%?


    I am in absolutely no way surprised at this attitude from Dell. I can see the economical point: if you're shifting boxes at near rock-bottom prices, you have to generate income somehow, and components for existing installations look like a promising candidate. Then again, not even notoriously arrogant Apple is that arrogant; you can shove third-party memory, hard drives, optical drives, whatever will fit, into their machines and it'll just work.

    The same goes for Sun (now Oracle-owned); I was responsible for a Sun storage array for a few years and found I could save a huge amount of money and hassle by ordering the replacement discs straight from Seagate; same quality, one third the price.

    And again, this Dell-branded-only thing is nothing new. Dell don't make their own printers; some of their laser printers are made by Lexmark, some by Hitachi, probably others by other manufacturers. Just don't even start to think you can get any third-party toner cassettes to work with those babies...

  12. Peter 39


    If Dell now forces its customers to use only drives it has "approved" then there's a liability suit in the wings when the first of them fails.

    They're no longer allowing customers to choose their own drives and thereby accept the liability for that choice. Forcing the choice means that Dell will be accepting some of the liability.

    I really don't think that they've thought this one through and talked to the lawyers. Dumb.

  13. davmor
    Thumb Down

    It's easy to vote with your feet...

    I've never understood the mentality of any company thinking that restrictive practices and attempts to limit choice to your own company's offerings will improve customer relationships/ future business. By all means issue warnings about limited/ no support for 3rd party hardware/ software, but anything beyond that is pathetic (unless Dell are perhaps concerned that their controller design is so flaky that attaching other manufacturer's drives to it will damage their hardware?). Of course, it's entirely possible that Dell may decide to offer a price-match with the alternative offerings - but I don't think that's likely to happen in my lifetime/ this universe/ your unlikely scenario here...

    Big mistake, IMHO.

    1. Michael C

      done and done

      We turned out backs on Dell 3.5 years ago, and replaced them with the much more expensive IBM systems. Funny thing is, our 4 year budget outlook is actually LESS than we spent with Dell, due to lowered maintenance costs, better operational monitoring, better tools to identify unused CPU cycles and properly scale systems, and overall lowered operational costs. We shed half a dozen IT people it took to maintain all those servers. We saved a ton in the end... (and got better discounts on our mainframes, AIX, and other platforms too).

      We're rolling over our Dell desktop systems now. We did keep buying those for an extra year or two after we stopped buying their servers. They have not made a formal determination on vendor, and since IBM let Lenovo go they won't get the biz, and as much as we like Apple desktops there's no onboard management utilities found in true business class desktops (which cost more than Macs BTW from anyone we're looking at). We'll be replacing 2K desktops a quarter for the next 7 quarters, and Dell won;t see a penny of it, even though they'll probably be the low bidder.

  14. BlueGreen

    Short story

    I bought a small server as I wanted something reliable. HD died after 14 months (shortest time of any disk I've ever had. One in another machine still running after >10 years). The vendor's support said I should be able to plug in any sata drive (they didn't sound enthusiastic but they said I could) so got a caviar green (nearest thing to hand, shopwise) and it ran slowly, and steadily got worse (weirdly, over couple of months, slowly) until machine was unusable.

    Could not work it out, assumed it was software problem, drilled down with perfmon, assorted sysinternals tools etc. Checked for rootkits etc. Got nowhere. No errors, just increasing propensity to thrash madly. Finally sussed that it was likely the firmware was incompatible. The caviar green is not made for speed and spins down. Replaced with a caviar black, now it's usable. Not outstanding but so much better. Lesson learned, painfully.

    Why didn't I get a vendor-recommended drive? Well, new I was quoted £250 for a 250 gig drive. When I asked what I was buying for that price they said reliability, and when I asked them what the guarantee was, they said 3 months - WTF?? What sort of reliability does a 3 month promise imply? says I. They didn't answer.

    The original drive was a barracuda ES.2, available from the web for about £80 for same capacity.

  15. Fran Taylor

    Don't buy anything!

    Oliver Jones said: "Makes things very easy for me ... I simply won't be buying Dell."

    If you apply that standard uniformly then you don't purchase ANY computer equipment.

    Seriously can you name a vendor out there who doesn't pull this kind of crap.

  16. ben_myers

    Dell follows the historical lead of Big Blue and all the rest who tried and failed

    This nonsense about installing only vendor certified drives has been going on since the mid-'60s or '70s, when IBM tried to stop use of 3rd party disk drives with its gear. Dell, treat the buyer as though he has some intelligence. There are lots of us engineers out here onlce employed by now-defunct computer companies. We can read spec sheets. We can buy brand new drives from all manner of reputable sources.

    What Dell is doing is taking commodity drives, but only certain models, mind you, running them through some tests and marking them "Dell-certified" at a premium price. Dell also runs the risk of lawsuits for this stupid ploy. Even with enterprise-class servers, hard drives, memory, and many other items are commodities, and need to be recognized as same... Ben Myers

  17. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    When this is really going to hurt

    isn't TODAY so much as in 5+ years when today's new Dell server is re-assigned to a 2nd or 3rd tier duty for a few years before being scrapped. And at that point, it won't be a simple matter of hitting ebay for cheap generic replacement or upgrade HD's ( since today's disks probably won't be available "new" from Dell anymore). Nope, they'll have to be Dell Certified HDs, which means they'll either be too damn expensive on ebay, or they'll be too damn expensive at Ambry and the other semi-official server refurb guys.

    There are still niches that can be filled with older kit just fine. Dell is shooting their future self in the foot with this.

    1. zedenne

      absolutely agree

      when i do buy dell it's for convenience only.

      in my head i'm still buying a mainboard, case, drives, ram etc.

      some of the servers in our office rack have cobbled components going back 10 years but are still humming along running network apps.

      i guess it's true only the raid controller is effected but still annoying to make we think twice about buying dell in the future.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Similar business model to inkjet cartridges in printers?

    ...where you pay through the nose for the printer manufacturer's cartridges and get a nearly-free printer.

    Ah - except that you don't get a nearly-free server with your expensive manufacturer-qualified HDDs.

    (There's always a flaw in any analogy...)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Dell's going to thievery, surprise?

    "As you point out this is a common practice for enterprise storage solutions, and for good reason. "

    Yes. How else you could sell triple priced standard disks from a bulk manufacturer?

    A Dell-sticker on random hard drive triples it's value, in two seconds. _That's a very good reason for this: Enormous profit._

  20. paulf

    Dell - All your data are belong to us

    Sorry, I had to do it :)

    Me thinks like El Reg: "Our Data" = Freudian Slip, not "most definitely" a typo.

  21. unitron

    ATX!!!!! (or, why ever trust Dell?)

    After Dell went out of their way to have Intel build motherboards for them with the ATX power supply socket pins re-arranged (and whoever built their power supplies to wire the plugs to match), so that what *looked* like ATX connectors weren't quite, why would anyone not expect to get screwed by Dell when they least expect it?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    quite right!

    Sounds like a good idea to me. As a Storage Engineer, I've had customers ask me things like "why are these SAN hard disks so expensive, can I not just buy a disk out of PC World and stick it in?" ummm no. Also, it's getting more and more common practice. Brocade used to allow multiple SFP vendors in their FC switches, now it appears they must be Brocade branded in the latest generation fo switches.

  23. Sam Liddicott

    Compaq tried this

    Compaq tried such tricks in the 90's and everyone learned to hate them.

    You could pay 10 times more for Compaq memory and so the brand become associated with over-pricing and ripoff, and have never recovered.

    Weird that Dell (who have a good brand) want to tarnish it in this way.


  24. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    Easy solution

    Easy solution: Order your Dell PowerEdge from a supplier based in France, where this sort of behaviour is very illegal.

    Paris, obviously .....

  25. Simon Jones 2

    Same old, same old........

    Simply a tool to leverage more sales for them that is all. Could of easily implemented a raid BIOS config to have this feature on or off......... but off is not in their interests........

  26. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    RAID tolerates failure?

    I thought a main theme of RAID was to tolerate drive failures. However, you also may be using RAID for performance. And some drives have better health systems than others.

    Does Dell make hard disks or badge them, or does this only mean that they require you to buy models that they prefer? I had a Seagate USB hard disk fail once, but I had dropped it a couple of times - not far, but it doesn't have to be far.

  27. Steve Loughran

    This is RAID storage here

    It sounds like this is the RAID controller that is saying "no non-approved HDDs". If so, and if DELL can go on to say "approved disks with this RAID controller won't lose data", then I think they should be allowed to do this.

    If you are going to go for the JBOD option of whatever SATA disks you want, no RAID, you have to recognise that the disks can and will fail, and come up with a strategy for dealing with it at the software level, not hardware.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Flash the firmware?

    Given Dell don't manufacture hard drives and it's normally visibly quite easy to work out who the actual manufacturer is, then it is possible some enterprising individual may be able to flash the firmware so a drive appears as a Dell....

  29. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Does it know

    How does it know that you bought a Dell disk drive?

  30. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    What's the fuss here?

    All storage array vendors do it. Heck even NetGear with their cheap'n'cheerful ReadyNAS boxes, issue a list of drives that will be supported anything else and they can refuse support on your unit. Let alone when we get up to the big boys like EMC and HDS!

  31. cosmo the enlightened


    Hitachi, EMC, LSI, NetApps all lock in. They argue they are certified for mean time to failure rates which we all know is BS, we also know they argue it allows them to state 5 9's for uptime and availability - which we also know is BS. But this is how the big boys implement quality into the data centre and revenue to their share holders.

    Dell appear to want to improve the quality of the customer exprience, like all of the other grown ups.

    Good for them!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Expensive <> good

      "But this is how the big boys implement quality into the data centre ...."

      No, they don't do that. Just intoduce the high profit. For Dell, of course.

      There's difference in being expensive and being good and Dell is selling the first, but not the second.

  32. Francis Fish

    Dell PERC?

    I know at least two people who run screaming from the room when they here those two syllables. It's at least 10 year old tech with a crappy 8-bit controller, and takes forever to format disks. Also used to have amusing thing where losing one disk lost the whole set (so RAID is meaningless) and the batteries would go. Apple also rebadge this crap for the pro.

    Also the Dell mangagment software was different on every one purchased, sometimes with a completely different user interface between what looked like minor revs.

    I would touch it with a barge pole.

  33. adam payne

    Oh Dell when will you learn

    "As storage controllers become more complex and capable, the differences in HDD implementation can have a significant impact on data integrity. We made this decision for our higher-end storage controllers to help customers better protect their data while also helping improve data availability. As you point out this is a common practice for enterprise storage solutions, and for good reason. By ensuring that certain HDDs have been tested and qualified with Dell storage controllers, our intent is to deliver the best possible enterprise experience."

    Dell has no right to decide what's best for it's customers, if a customer doesn't want to use expensive re-badged Dell hard drives then they shouldn't have to.

    If a manufacturer designs a storage controller it should work with all drives as per the industry specification for that controller.

    This is a lock in designed to make them more money plain and simple. Best thing to do is vote with your feet and buy from someone else.

    1. SteveO

      irritatingly simple minded

      But Dell DOES have the right to limit people from buying a crappy hdd and trying to get the warranty to cover it...

  34. IceMage

    Bad move

    Really... this simply means I will no longer purchase Dells. We have our own standards for testing hard drives, and Dell's drives are extremely overpriced. Simply put, this means that their servers will no longer meet our needs. Sad for them, but we'll be fine going with another vendor. This is just a plain stupid business move.

  35. Anonymous Coward


    Is Dell Kit " IBM Compatible" ???? (15yr old joke)

    Surely an HDD can be unlocked like a mobile phone???

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holy Vitriol, Batman

    a) Dell support on a server covers the installed HDs for the life of the server warranty

    b) Drives are cheap, 4 hour onsite replacement of those drives is expensive.

    c) Believe it or not lots, of people have been reselling Dell servers with cheap 3rd party consumer SATA drives that fail alot. And when I say lots, I mean LOTS in capital letters

    d) a-c taken together lead to this, or an increase in warranty pricing across the board for Dell servers, or Dell telling customers who bought a server from a shady reseller to take a hike.

    an increase in warranty price is out of the question given the competitive nature of the server market... there really aren't any solutions to this problem that won't tick a bunch of people off and drive calls of "dell is evil" or "dell is incompetent" or "dell is greedy" or some combination of the above.

    disclosure: I work at Dell in a role that neither makes decisions about this, nor benefits or suffers from that decision

    1. davmor
      Thumb Down

      Holy vitriol? - No, plain common sense!

      a) "Dell support on a server covers the installed HDs for the life of the server warranty" - no problem here; as numerous previous posts have already said, all Dell had to do was make plain it's warranty will not cover 3rd party hardware (that's common enough/ fair enough) - but that's a far cry from "enabling" non-functioning with said 3rd party hardware.

      b) "Drives are cheap..." - and some (Dell?) are not as cheap as others! Also (and the point has already been made by others) how cheap will the Dell drives be in a few years time, when Dell wants its market to be the newest, latest, system design and doesn't want to be burdened with supplying these drives anymore - except at a premium?

      c) "..lots, of people have been reselling Dell servers with cheap 3rd party consumer SATA drives that fail alot. And when I say lots, I mean LOTS.." - really? Only Dell make good, reliable drives? (Oh, I forgot, Dell don't actually make drives - just badge them) Of course, care has to be taken in reading spec sheets - but Dell engineers don't have the monoply on that knowledge...

      d) "..a-c taken together lead to this, or an increase in warranty pricing across the board for Dell servers.." - no; just a simple clause in the warranty which restricts support for 3rd party hardware and leaves the choice with the customer - where it belongs. Customere will make a choice anyway - it's just that in trying to force the issue Dell may just find that the choice is "not Dell"!

      disclosure; I DON'T work at Dell, and I don't benefit or suffer from Dell's decision - although how you can say that you don't, beats me! If you work for Dell then you do benefit - at least indirectly - from your employment. Also, although I applaud your loyalty, I think you may also suffer from Dell's decision here - because their decision to try and "strongarm" their customers will, I think, backfire and hurt them in the long run. BTW, I don't work for Dell's competitor's either, nor do I have an axe to grind. But I DO make recommendations to clients as to what systems to buy, and have to spell out the pro's and con's; Dell just added a "Con" in this instance - that's all.

  37. SteveO
    Thumb Up

    good deal for everybody

    Now we won't have to worry about some joker before us from installing non-Dell drives into a box, and have the new staff from trying to get Dell to replace a part that they did not sell to us in the first place. This will allow Dell to lower its warranty prices, which will lower the costs of the support contracts, which is why most of us go with Dell to begin with.. the SUPERIOR tech support that sets them above the rest.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Dell prices reasonable

    Bought 3 normal server (2u) last year and 2 baby ones. Stuff was very competitively priced with flexible options. Not as sleek as HP/Compaq, but hey... we're in a recession .

    Bottom line: off-the-shelf lower spec hard disks were pricier or I would have done it myself.

  39. Dean Westall

    Time limit on upgrades

    The problem with Dell blocking non-certified drives is that they cease to make drive kits available long before people typically want them - in EMEA at least. Typically a kit for any given piece of kit will cease to be available 3-6 months after the platform itself EOL.s. So you could buy a system close to EOL Dell won't be in a position to sell you an extra drive for in a year's time. I work for a company that makes its living out of supplying tier one retail drive upgrades to Dell customers. Dell use exactly the same suppliers - Fujitsu, Seagate for example - that we do and often the only difference between the two is firmware. Dell's move threatens not only our business but will alienate customers previously on their side.

  40. Alan Lewis 1

    I'm with Dell

    The reason being, its slightly more than the firmware.

    Its actually the drives in question. Dell hard drives are the enterprise versions of the OEM drives. Have a look at the various tech forums a 12-18months ago, people buying the cheaper "desktop" 1TB WD drives, putting them in RAID arrays, and the drives - more often than not - failing.

    The manufacturer had two disctinct sub-classes in the product line, one for the single-drive 'array' desktop market, one for the business/RAID market. And the two were incompatible.

    Only Dell know the number of times a service call has, at its root cause, a 3rd party desktop drive. And perhaps this has driven the decision.

    As for reflashing a non-Dell drive with Dell firmware... first of all you need to get the Dell server to recognise the non-Dell controller card (SCSI/SAS/SATA/RAID), as I have tried just this, admittedly something slightly different. I have several short-stroked disks (low-level formatted to significantly less than capacy) supplied to replace some years-old drives that were still under extended warranty, but no longer available. Trying to get the OEM firmware is a nightmare. However, I do have the equivalent Dell full-capacity firmware issued on a maintenance/update disk. However, the Dell controller will not talk to the non-Dell disks, a non-Dell controller will, but the Dell server will not talk to the non-Dell controller. And the firmware update tool will not run on a non-Dell computer...

    Its a cahllenge, is all!

  41. Anonymous Coward

    I think they call this added value at Dell

    What a joke, Dell neither make not arguably even design their own computers.

    Dell PERCs are re-badged (sometimes crippled!) LSI logic parts and their servers are manufactured by Hon Hai who also make smartphones. To my knowledge there are only about 5 hard drive makers out there (Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate, WD, IBM). They have been known to remove options in the motherboard BIOSs they buy to cripple functionality like Intel-Vt for no good reason.

    Should we be surprised their technical "value add" is now reduced to turning off things that would otherwise have worked fine?

    For something as simple as a modest Dell server running Windows, all this talk of "mismatched firmware" is nonsense. When was the last time LSI told you only certain drives worked with their RAID? When did Fujitsu issue a warning on their drives about only using certain controllers? Its the same parts.

    If Dell controls precisely what upgrades (drives, memory, anything) you can put in your server, then they can make a stronger argument for selling you a new one given the non-availability of spares.

    Today Dell make it harder to keep a system running for more than 3 years. Just wait till they reduce that down to 2 years soon....

    Gotta keep those new unit volumes up lads...good job.

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