Do The IBM Hardware Support reduce in quality?

We just received a brand new xSeries 3620 M3 less than a month ago, and after configured and installed the operating system, we noticed that one of the hard disk light (from five hard disks) is not working. It mean not blinking at all.

Because this is a brand new server, and our first though this is only a hardware problem, on Friday we called the IBM support and hope that they can change the hard disk.

After we received the ticket ID, one of IBM support person called us and I explained the problem to him. After discussed, he want me to run the diagnostic tools the check the entire system. I though “What?”, but I followed him anyway, download the diagnostic tools, run it and send the result to his email address.

On Monday, we still do not received any news or any update, and on Tuesday I called the IBM support again and ask about my ticket status. Then I’ve got another call from another IBM support person, mentioned that the first IBM support person is not available so he will take over while he away.

Again, I explained the problem and re submitted the IBM diagnostic tools result to him, and he promised to update me about the status.

About one or two hours, I received his email, mentioned that the result that I just send to him is not complete because my server is not have a IPMI driver. So he gave me the link to download the IPMI driver and ask me to installed the driver. After that, I re run the diagnostic tools, and again re submit the result.

On Wenesday, there no update from them.

On Thursday, the IBM support person called me again and updated the status. And he said that the firmware in my server is not up to date, and require me to update the firmware. I though “What?”.

The problem is simple, the light activity in one the hard disk is not working (while in another four hard disks is working well), thats all. I really sure this only a small problem, maybe only something wrong with the bracket. Why update the firmwares?

On the phone, He mentioned that I need to update several firmwares, I said to him, just give me the list in the email, and I will look into it

When I received the email, I’m shocked.

He mentioned that I need to upgrade not only one, or two but four firmwares..

  • Integrated Management Module
  • IBM System x uEFI update for 3620 M3/3630 M3
  • ServeRAID M1015 SAS/SATA Controller Firmware
  • IBM FW HDD SAS-1.09 Windows 32-64

And not forget, he also add a little warning at the end of his email
“Please backup your data before updating the firmwares”

Great.

I consulted with IBM BP, and hope that somehow they can do something about it.

I used to recommend IBM xSeries to many people, and one of the reason because they have a very good support, but now, I have doubts, BIG doubts.

Update:

On monday,  wrote them email mention that I will not do the firmware upgrade and they responded that they will their support to us to upgrade the firmware.

On Tuesday, one support come and a good thing is that he also bring a new hard disk. He upgraded all the firmware and it took more than one hour, but the light still not blinking. Then he replaced the hard disk with the new one, but the light still not blinking. Then he tried to plug the old hard disk into another slot, and the light now blinking. By that, the support engineer said that the problem is in the backplane of the server. And he will come back again tomorrow with a new backplane.

On Wenesday, he came again with a new backplane. After he switch the backplane with a new one, now the light is blinking fine.

So, the problem was in the backplane, not in the firmware or the hard disk. The diagnostic tools from IBM unable to detect the malfunction in the backplane. And it took more that a week for IBM to identify and fix the problems, that a big disappointing for me.

But the good thing is, that now the server working fine without any problems.

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