Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
About a month ago I bought some hard drives for my Nexstor 18fc array from an Ebay seller. According to his listing these were Seagate model ST118202FC hard drives. The SAN array I use for my real work (believe it or not I do have a real job) uses this model of drive and I needed to increase my storage space (well, actually I wanted to increase my input/output rate and the increase in storage space is a side-effect.) I found a companion drive to the ones currently in the array (I thought) so I put in my bid, got the drive for a very good price and when I received it, it installed just fine in my array and spun up with green lights across the control panel.
So from the previous paragraph it would seem all was right with the world correct? Well, then I tried to access the drive to format it and make it useful for the system. I am afraid the drive would not respond to any of the low level format or high level commands I issued. I looked carefully at the startup file log, sure enough, was a ST118202FC hard drive, but wait, there was a CLAR18 following the designation. What this means was that the firmware for the drive was modified by a SAN provider (in this case I believe EMC) to be specific for a particular SAN, in this case a CLARIION system. No biggie I thought to myself, I’ll just reburn the firmware, well, you can’t do that with EMC firmware unless you go to another version of EMC firmware, which kind of defeated the purpose for me. Here is how the listing described the drive:
You are bidding on a Seagate Cheetah 18.2GB Fibre Channel 10,000 RPM Hard Drive with a Dell Tray.
Seagate Model #: Cheetah / ST118202FC
External Data transfer Rate: 100MBps
Seek Time: 6 ms
Average Latency: 3ms
Buffer Size : 1MB
Interface: Fibre Channel
CHEETAH 18GB HARD DRIVE
As you can see, no mention of the CLAR18 designation that would be critical to determine compatibility.
Ok, obviously these EMC drives were not going to work for my Nexstor array.
On their shipping receipt they put:
“If, for any reason, you are unsatisfied with your purchase, please contact me at email@example.com with your order number 12551 and the reason for your dissatisfaction. I will make all reasonable efforts to resolve the issue.”
I emailed the representative from the company I purchased them from, explained the situation and asked to return the drive. Here is the email trail:
Subject: eBay Item #170024231254
This disk appears to be a pull from an EMC Clariion or related architecture. Unfortunately that means that it has EMC proprietary microcode burned into its firmware rendering it useless in anything but another array of a similar type. It identifies itself as ST118202 CLAR18 on spin up and won't allow format commands or partitioning commands (reports its size as zero) afraid this is just so much spinning rust and DOA as far as I am concerned. If you don't have something that you know can be accessed by normal arrays then I will return it for my money back. Thanks.
Their Customer Service wrote:
This item only has a DOA warranty. The auction states: This item is represented as accurately as possible; we do not guarantee compatibility please check your part numbers.
(Right, like deliberately leaving off the CLAR18)
To which I responded:
You did not provide the complete part number, the other drives in the array have the same part number except that they do not have the CLAR18 add on which indicates yours were pulled from a Clarion array and which you left off of the description. Had I known the full part number (which I assumed you had provided) I wouldn't have bought them. You did not provide accurate information.
Their Customer Service wrote:
Why didn't you ask? That is what the terms tell you in the auction that you should do. It also states that you should not assume anything.
(So I assume I would need to have a complete list of all incompatible possible microcodes and SANs and call them with a detailed question about this…like their order taker on the other end would know…)
To Which I responded:
You know what? Forget it, I'll just note this in my feedback on Ebay and then resell it, properly labeled and probably get more for it than you did. Thanks for nada.
Their Customer Service wrote:
No problem, just remember that the feedback goes both ways. Thanks...
So, basically I was told that I should have foreseen that the drive might have had its firmware overwritten by a vendor and I should have asked before I bought it. I explained there was no way of knowing this without seeing the full model number (which they hadn’t provided) which required me to install the drives before I could see the serial numbers. Essentially I was told to pack sand and they wouldn’t take the drives back or refund my money.
Being a man of my word I entered the following comment for them on Ebay:
“Was not satisfied, didn't give complete description of item, would not take back”
And here is how they responded:
“BEWARE - ATTEMPTED EXTORTION BY FEEDBACK - BLOCK THIS USER - SELLERS BEWARE”
Extortion? Asking them to stand by their product or I would tell people they didn’t, extortion? A bit of an over reaction I felt. Who was extorting who? Oh, and what was the transaction final amount?
This company, Three Sale Group LTD, I will never have dealings with again, nor will I recommend them.
I also purchased 6 additional drives from a second source on Ebay, unfortunately they also were CLAR18, which also wasn’t indicated in the description, but, when I pointed that out, they handled it as a DOA and fully refunded my money, this company, Online Data Solutions, Inc., I will recommend to others and will use again in a heartbeat.
However, this all has a happy ending, I found 18-72 gb drives for my array on Ebay from Morgen Industries, Inc., they were professional, courteous and knowledgeable and I would buy from them in a heartbeat and recommend them to others.
So remember, Caveat Emptor and ask every possible question you can think of from Ebay sellers unless their description of the object being bought is detailed and precise.
Anyone need some Clariion compatible 18 gb drives? Cheap! I also have some 18 gb Nexstor comaptible drives and a complete Nexstor 8s array....if anyone is interested