Back in March 2007, I put up a couple of posts about the missing audible alarm in the Dell PERC RAID controller. There was a flurry of activity following those posts, and that's been the most read pair of posts from this blog. Well, 18 months has passed, and I haven't posted much else about the situation, mostly because nothing much has changed. One of the last conversations I had with someone within Dell engineering was that they were looking into adding the alarm back in the PERC 6 controller, but no revisions were planned for the PERC 5. I'm OK with the latter part of that, as it would be difficult to go back and re-engineer the existing card, so long as the next card would get it back.
But last week I put in two new servers, the first ones I've rolled out with the PERC 6 controller, and guess what - no audible alarm on the controller. Either version. (One of the servers I rolled has both the PERC 6/i and the 6/E, neither has the alarm.)
I had reason to contact Dell yesterday for another set of issues and, as luck would have it, I spoke with the same engineer who worked with me the first time I called in about the missing alarm. While he helped me resolve the other issues, we talked more about the missing alarm and how I was really disappointed to find out that the latest card still doesn't have it. Once again, I asked about how best to provide feedback to Dell regarding this issue, and once again he pointed me to the Dell IdeaStorm site. While talking, we both went to the site and searched on "audible alarm" and guess whose post was the first one returned in the search - yep, the one I put up in April of 2007. Surprisingly, unlike other posts with lower scores on that page, this item has not been marked as "reviewed" which means that Dell has not been keen enough to even look at this issue.
Well, it's time to get back in the saddle on this issue, because I think that Dell has made a significant mistake in removing the alarm from the controller. Sure, I understand that they received a number of calls from customers who didn't like hearing the alarm when something went wrong with the controller, but the correct response is not to remove the alarm altogether. Ship the controller with the alarm disabled by default, and let those of us who rely on the alarm as a warning sign enable it if we choose.
So, for those of you who work with Dell servers who still see this as a huge shortcoming, please take as many of the following actions as you are comfortable with.
- Locate my post on IdeaStorm and comment/promote it.
- Contact Dell Support for one of your servers in production and ask them how to enable the audible alarm on the PERC controller. When they tell you it can't be done, escalate the call.
- Contact your sales agent at Dell and explain to them how you're considering switching to a different hardware vendor that does offer RAID controllers with audible alarms.
This is one of those cases where I think the community absolutely can make a difference.