Vincent Pang Photography

Freelance Photographer in Malaysia for Wedding, Portrait, Events, Products, Fine Art and any photography related services

11 Reasons Why I Will Not Buy From Dell

My first experience with Dell Server was to implement a half a million (RM) SAN storage. Below are 10 reasons why I will NOT buy from Dell anymore

1) 2m Standard Rack Power Cable

Dell does not have anything longer than 2m for their rack power cable in their inventory. This is quite hard to believe that Dell actually expect everyone to place their Rack 2m away. In reality, after the cable management, we get only less than 1m of power cable from the rack to power point. I called up Dell support and log in a call if I can purchase a longer one and was shocked to be told that there is no such cable ? It's not hard to get the cable, but I get to know that using a non Dell cable might void my warranty. After along discussion with the account executive, technical support and project manager, they finally agreed that I can use a male-female cable which I get from local electric shop and hook it up to the 1m power cable to the power source.

2) No network cable

Brought the whole rack from the server, rack, switches, servers, hook up everything, but, I was not told that i need to purchase the network cable. Seriously, it is definitely not hard to get the network cable, but I can't seems to know why the Project manager from Dell which was assigned and we paid 5 figure, failed to tell me this. If I have to project manage this, they might as well hire me instead. What I want is a SAN storage solution. It's like I wanted a car, but you don't sell me a car with no tyre. At least, you let me know if it doesn't ! I'm expecting to go there get my car and drive it. Accessories can be add on, but necessity has to be there !

3) Switch

Now that we have all the hardware in place, the Cisco switch take another 1 more month to arrive? I was lucky that they manage to get me a loan unit. The vendor, the project manager and me were in the same meeting and for some reason the vendor still deliver to my office in TPM (where we had the meeting) when insisted tho the vendor that my data centre for this proejct is at Cyberjaya. Luckily the guy called me and I diverted him to Cyberjaya.

4) Dell storage fibre spoil

New and it is spoilt out from the box. No connection, change cable nothing. LED not blinking. Call for hardware replacement and problem solved. But this is something new out of the box. And it cost 6 figure for that.

5) Dell server HDD failed

One of the RAID controller in a 2U server failed within 1 week. Was told to run some tools to send Dell some hardware reports before they come over to check on the HDD failure. However, we have reformat those servers to run on Linux. They send me a tool to my email and ask me to boot into Dos/ Windows and run it from there. I ask them how to boot when there's no floppy and they don't know how to do it. Luckily i'm technical enough to get Dr. Dos to work, boot and run the tools and get send them the report. Dell gave alot of CDs, but none can be used to boot to Dos/Windows to do this. How difficult is it to get a CDs with all the tools and make it bootable? I need a solution not an application!

6) Backup license start when purchased not activated

Was quite surprise that I was told the 1yr backup license support start from the day we purchase and not activate/use. This is due to the fact that the backup doesn't come until later stage when the platform is setup and running. That could easily take 2 weeks to 1 month. Because we implemented the backup 3 months later, we just lost 3 months of support. How ridiculous to expect someone to setup and run the backup job from the date the customer purchase without even installing OS and application?

7) Symantec backup exec doesn't work on Linux

I specifically told them that we will format the server to run on Linux instead. I even asked them if there is a license for MySQL (as MS SQL require a different one), they told me no and there is no such license for MySQL. The same vendor who is doing the switch first forgot my delivery address, now even forgot that those servers are Linux. She told me that during the meeting, she thought I will run MySQL on Windows platform. Project manager keep quiet as he is too busy and forget about the conversation during meeting. Big disappointment because they do not listen to their customer.

8) NFS not working

Technical sales person told me how good their EMC SAN Storage is, 4GB fibre front back, expandability, management and etc. They confirm me it will work on NFS and Linux. The SAN gateway are windows servers, while the clients are Linux. Now that I can't mount it to the NFS, it took us almost 1 month to make it work.

9) Project manager

We was assigned a project manager from Dell which was part of the delivery. We were billed 5 figures for a project manager. The server and storage hardwares arrived and install without him even looking at it. The design and architecture was worked out earlier by me and the technical sales person. Personally, after two mishap ( as above), I am very upset that I still have to project manage this. He has done absolutely nothing in helping me deliver this project. Well he did organise a meeting for the switch and backup solution to be implemented, but he never follow up until I asked him when they are going to implement it. It is hard to catch him as he is so busy. Never keep up on the progress of the project. Failed ! Finally he done something, he helped me to get network cables. Hahaha.

10) Payment

The finance called me for payment when I was waiting for the Project manager to revert on a date for the backup implementation. I can't possibly sign off on the project as it has not been fully implemented yet. Since the PR come in 1 sheet, it is just not possible for my finance to pay for the implemented hardware. They insisted me to chase for payment and that give me no choice but to give my best blast on them.

Updated 08 Feb 2008:

11) Caught them Lying

Referring to reason no.7 as above, I manage to get the proposed implementation diagram which the Dell technical sales sent to me when I send them my requirement earlier for a quotation on the servers. It is clearly written that it's Linux server. I'm not sure where the communication failed. Even the project manager is not sure/forgot if i told him that. Now I'm really disappointed that Dell and its vendor who were in the same meeting failed to listen to their customer. It is the same vendor which got us the switch (see reason no.3). I'm not sure if i'm speaking a different english, the vendor first failed to get the address, then the linux server. Hello, are you sleeping during your work?

Basic Storage Versus Dynamic Storage

Was trying to setup mirrored volume (RAID-1) for redundancy and data availability on my PCs. I have done it with the server (Windows Server 2003) in the office. It make use of dynamic disk volume.

 Deng ! Hit the wall, Windows XP doesn't support this ! The dynamic disk feature in Windows XP Pro only allows Extending Volume, meaning you can increase the disk space WITHOUT re-partitioning it and of course no need to restart of PC. I can easily convert a basic disk to dynamic disk, but i can't convert a dynamic disk back to basic without deleting all the dynamic volume... damn... there i go again, transferring all the files.

Basic Disk Storage

Basic storage uses normal partition tables supported by MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 2000, and Windows XP. A disk initialized for basic storage is called a basic disk. A basic disk contains basic volumes, such as primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives.

Additionally, basic volumes include multidisk volumes that are created by using Windows NT 4.0 or earlier, such as volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, and stripe sets with parity. Windows XP does not support these multidisk basic volumes. Any volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, or stripe sets with parity must be backed up and deleted or converted to dynamic disks before you install Windows XP Professional.

Dynamic Disk Storage

Dynamic storage is supported in Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional. A disk initialized for dynamic storage is called a dynamic disk. A dynamic disk contains dynamic volumes, such as simple volumes, spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, and RAID-5 volumes.

NOTE: Dynamic disks are not supported on portable computers or on Windows XP Home Edition-based computers.

You cannot create mirrored volumes or RAID-5 volumes on Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, or Windows XP 64-Bit Edition-based computers. However, you can use a Windows XP Professional-based computer to create a mirrored or RAID-5 volume on remote computers that are running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. You must have administrative privileges on the remote computer to do this.

Storage types are separate from the file system type. A basic or dynamic disk can contain any combination of FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS partitions or volumes.

A disk system can contain any combination of storage types. However, all volumes on the same disk must use the same storage type.

Dynamic Storage Terms:

A volume is a storage unit made from free space on one or more disks. It can be formatted with a file system and assigned a drive letter. Volumes on dynamic disks can have any of the following layouts: simple, spanned, mirrored, striped, or RAID-5.
A simple volume uses free space from a single disk. It can be a single region on a disk or consist of multiple, concatenated regions. A simple volume can be extended within the same disk or onto additional disks. If a simple volume is extended across multiple disks, it becomes a spanned volume.
A spanned volume is created from free disk space that is linked together from multiple disks. You can extend a spanned volume onto a maximum of 32 disks. A spanned volume cannot be mirrored and is not fault-tolerant.
A striped volume is a volume whose data is interleaved across two or more physical disks. The data on this type of volume is allocated alternately and evenly to each of the physical disks. A striped volume cannot be mirrored or extended and is not fault-tolerant. Striping is also known as RAID-0.
A mirrored volume is a fault-tolerant volume whose data is duplicated on two physical disks. All of the data on one volume is copied to another disk to provide data redundancy. If one of the disks fails, the data can still be accessed from the remaining disk. A mirrored volume cannot be extended. Mirroring is also known as RAID-1.
A RAID-5 volume is a fault-tolerant volume whose data is striped across an array of three or more disks. Parity (a calculated value that can be used to reconstruct data after a failure) is also striped across the disk array. If a physical disk fails, the portion of the RAID-5 volume that was on that failed disk can be re-created from the remaining data and the parity. A RAID-5 volume cannot be mirrored or extended.
The system volume contains the hardware-specific files that are needed to load Windows (for example, Ntldr, Boot.ini, and The system volume can be, but does not have to be, the same as the boot volume.
The boot volume contains the Windows operating system files that are located in the %Systemroot% and %Systemroot%\System32 folders. The boot volume can be, but does not have to be, the same as the system volume.