The i that isn’t

Where has the blog been the past 4 weeks? On inaccessible disks on a dead JS12 blade.  In fact, you may not be able to read this because the JS12 may be down again.  There is really no way to recount the difficulties of the past 4 weeks and the fact that my i partition has basically been DOA for a month.  There is a very long story here.  Too long to blog about in one sitting.

It all started innocently enough.  Just a couple of weird, unexplained situations where the JS12 would no longer be responding.  Bouncing the blade seemed to bring it back.  I decided to update the AMM with new firmware to see if it would “help” and then the slide down the slippery slope began.  Having a BCS vs an “integrated” i was part of the problem.  I finally activated the “phone home” option on the BCS, and when the i partition failed, the BCS phoned it in and I had a BCS support person call me.

The *NIX folks are MUCH more laid back than the i support group.  On the i side, on the very rare occasion that I had a failure, the support person would move heaven and earth to keep things moving until the i was back on it’s legs.  With the *NIX folks, it is pretty much “Try this, see if it works and call us back if it doesn’t”. Here is what that resulted in:

An eventual reload of VIOS

Update of the following firmware: Disk Storage Module (DSM),Storage controller, RAID controller, SAS connectivity module, disk firmware and a few others I have forgotten.  Each of these has dependencies and requirements to pay attention to.  Who would have guessed a controller update would lead to a disk firmware update.  When was the last time that you had to worry that a PTF on your storage controller would bugger your disks and require a separate maintenance piece?

The bottom line is that the i on blade is not an i (i being “integrated”).  It isn’t a criticism of  IBM per se, but you do need to consider the complexities in managing a blade environment.  There are definite benefits, but also real risks.  I’d take a look at the i on blade in 6 month to a year.  By then they will have sorted out these issues and perhaps come up with a more integrated way of manging the pieces.  Until then, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

As for my JS12, well, there is a new firmware update coming out next week.  Hopefully, I won’t have to update 6 other modules to make it work.  It is supposed to give me back some stability as well as allowing me to re-install the media tray so I can use the DVD drive again.  I’ll also be able to directly use my tape drive.  Imagine that! It’s, it’s almost like an i!

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