An Ounce of Prevention


September 24, 2009 by Mike Hillwig

Having worked in some large IT organizations, coming into a small shop can be maddening at times.

When a drive goes bad in a server, we call IBM and they overnight us a new drive. A few months ago, I had a drive go bad, and the server was no longer under warranty. IBM didn’t overnight us a drive, and rightfully so. We had to go through our normal purchasing channels to replace the drive. Lets say that our purchasing process isn’t exactly fast.

Why not have them in stock and then use the incoming drive from IBM to replenish the stock?

The IBM x346 is a workhorse in our environment. We have at least a dozen of them and they’re all coming out of warranty within a few months of each other. If I lose a drive in a database server, I’m not sure I want to wait a week for a replacement drive to arrive.  Several weeks ago, I bought a handful of spare drives for this server. My boss thought I was just being a little paranoid.

This morning, my instincts served me well. We lost a drive in the database server that runs our ERP system. I ran to the cabinet and grabbed a spare. The drive was replaced before we put in the support call to IBM. Jack at IBM Support in Atlanta told me what I already knew. This particular server was no longer under warranty.  They weren’t going to be sending me a new drive.  Had I had to wait a week for a replacement drive, you can bet I wouldn’t sleep well until that new drive had been put in.

My dad always says to trust your gut. I like to think that I’ve developed good instincts over the years. And they’re usually right.

  • I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard of shops that used their hot spares in their currently-under-warranty service for just this purpose. Pull out a hot spare from any 346 currently under warranty, swap it out with the failed drive in the non-warrantied-server, then put the dead drive in the server that’s under warranty. Presto, the drive’s under warranty. The quirk with IBM’s warranties is that they’ll warranty any part you put in there, even if you didn’t buy it from them.

    I had one sales guy who told me to just buy memory and drives off Ebay – as long as they had the official IBM part number stickers, they’d be under warranty.

    I would certainly never condone behavior like that. 😉

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