Last week I was working on setting up two new servers at a new office about 6,000 km away. Initially, everything was going smoothly on Server #1 until I tried to configure the second server in a similar manner.
Let me explain…
We are using the following:
-Dell R730xd servers
–iDRAC firmware: 126.96.36.199
-Dell PERC H730 Mini
-Seagate ST8000NM0065 SAS (6 of them)
–OS (RAID-1, SSDs)
–Storage (RAID-6, Seagate)
What we did on each server for the OS boot drive is combine two enterprise SSD disk into a RAID-1 configuration. This worked well for us as expected.
While investigating some options for local storage that could possibly be shared, we wanted to do some testing with Microsoft’s Storage Spaces Direct, which required us to remove the Storage Volume and convert the disks from a RAID to Non-RAID configuration.
Server #1 was completed successfully. Entering the iDRAC configuration, we expanded Overview –> Storage and then selected Virtual Disks.
We clicked on Manage and deleted the chosen volume via the drop down option under Virtual Disk Actions.
Once the volume was deleted, we needed to convert each disk from a RAID drive to Non-RAID drive.
This is done by going into the Physical Disks section under storage (within the iDRAC menu) and going to the setup section.
From there, you would just click the Setup section at the top, select each or all disks that you want to reconfigured for Non-RAID and select apply.
This worked great for the first server but not so much for the second server.
When doing so, the job would be accepted and checking the Job Queue which is under the Overview –> Server section, we noticed the following basic error message: PR21: Failed
Since the message didn’t provide enough information, we went to the Logs section under Overview –> Server and selected the Lifecycle Log section.
Here you can possibly get slightly more details but in our case, it wasn’t enough to figure out what was going wrong.
We started off by searching that error message on Dells website and found the following:
We couldn’t find out why we were not able to reformat the disks into a Non-RAID configuration. Server #1 completed this without issues. We compared both servers (exact same spec) and there was nothing out of the ordinary.
We stumbled upon an interesting Reddit post that speaks about a very similar situation. The user in this case had 520 bytes sector drives and was trying to reformat them to 512 bytes.
We compared the drives between both servers and everything was the same. We couldn’t perform the exact steps as identified on Reddit since we couldn’t get the drives detected and we didn’t have any way to hookup each SAS drive to a 3rd party adapter and check the drive details.
We decided to do a test and shut down both servers and move the drives from one unit to the other, thanks to our remote office IT employee. Doing so would identify if the issue is in fact with the drives or with the server/raid controller/configuration.
With the drives from server #2 into server #1, we were able to format them into a Non-RAID configuration with ease. We knew our issues were with the server itself.
Diving more into Dells documentation, we found one area that was not really discussed but required to reboot the server and tap F2 to enter the Controller Management window.
Here, we looked around and found what we believed to be the root cause of our issues, located in Main Menu –> Controller Management –> Advanced Controller Properties.
Look at the last selection, Non RAID Disk Mode, we had this as Disabled!
This wasn’t a setting we setup and the initial testing was done by our vendor a great distance away.
We choose the Enabled option for Non-RAID Disk Mode and applied and restarted the server
With that modified, we loaded back into iDRAC and we were finally able to select all of our disks and configure them as non-raid.
Once done, all the disks were passed through to windows and we were able to use them for our storage and to test Microsofts Storage Spaces Direct.
I wanted to take a few minutes and write this up as this was something we couldn’t pinpoint right away and took a bit of time to investigate, test and resolve.
Some resources that I came across that might help others:
Thanks for reading!