Raise your hand if you’ve ever broken a RAID array because you pulled the wrong drive. Okay, you don’t really have to raise your hand, but if you haven’t broken an array at least once, you’re either on your first day of the job or you’re lying. In large data centers, removing the wrong drive happens – more often than it should. I know I’ve done it. HP is aiming to reduce the incidence of error with it’s new line of Smartdrives for ProLiant Gen8 servers.
Central to the error reduction is on-drive visualization in the form of indicator lights that provide visual feedback about drive status. If a drive is performing an operation, a spinning set of lights tells you something is in progress. If the drive status is green, it means everything is good with the drive. An amber status on the drive indicates either a drive failure or pending drive failure depending on whether the light is solid amber or flashing amber. When a drive shouldn’t be removed, the switch will light up with a do not remove indicator. This last feature may be the most important, because it’s the one which helps technicians make sure they remove the correct drive.
While I didn’t capture it on video, Scott Bunker gave me a great demonstration of how removing drives in a 16-drive array changes the status of other drives. As he removed drives, the array continued to update with new drives indicating they couldn’t be removed. That’s something that would have resulted in total failure in past drive configurations.
ProLiant Gen8 Flexible Smartdrive Cages
Another key component of ProLiant Gen8 Smartdrives is interchangeable drive cages. In previous ProLiant generations, you could only use certain drive cage configurations with specific servers. With the ProLiant DL38x series of servers, HP makes it so that any of 5 drive cage options will work with any DL38x server. This dramatic change allows for more versatility within your data center, as well as making it easier to swap parts between servers.
Find out more about HP ProLiant Gen8 Smartdrive solutions in this interview with Scott Bunker from HP Discover: