Seagate Takes Blame For Cisco UCS Server Configuration Snafu

Seagate on Friday admitted to CRN that it was the source of the misconfigured hard drives that caused Cisco to warn customers about potential data loss in certain Cisco UCS servers.

Cisco early this week issued a field notice that some of its Cisco UCS servers were shipped with hard drives that had the write cache mistakenly turned on. If the write cache is enabled, those servers could experience data loss if the servers lost power since the data in the cache might not be saved.

"Seagate has confirmed that certain drives shipped to Cisco did have the write caching performance option enabled. We have worked with Cisco to address the issue. We believe it is has been resolved to their satisfaction," a Seagate spokesperson wrote in an email to CRN.

[Related: Some Cisco UCS Servers May Lose Data If Power Is Cut Off]

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Cisco, in its field notice, said the issue impacted the Cisco UCS C220-M3, C220-M4L, C240-M3, C240-M4L, and UCSC-C3X60 servers.

Cisco identified the affected drives with their Cisco part numbers and did not specify them as being from Seagate. However, Cisco did include the Seagate name in some of the documentation in the field notice.

Cisco, in its field notice, wrote that the affected drives would have to be re-configured in the field, and included instructions for how to do so.

"Cisco ships all of their hard drives from manufacturing with drive write cache disabled. During a quality audit, select units were found to have the drive write cache enabled. The issue has been remediated in the manufacturing process. Users of potentially affected devices are recommended to change the drive cache configuration," Cisco wrote.

The issue appears to be a logistics error and not a technical error, and is an argument for greater automation, said Glenn Dekhayser, national data management practice lead at Red8, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider and Cisco channel partner.

"This is what happens when humans are involved," Dekhayser told CRN. "A hard drive looks like a hard drive. You can't tell from the outside if the cache write is enabled or disabled. These things happen. It's bound to happen sometime."

No hard disks should be shipped with their cache write enabled, Dekhayser said. "Write cache without persistent battery backup or persistent flash memory on the drive is not safe," he said. "You need a way to either move data to flash memory or keep the drive powered until the data in the cache is written to persistent memory. That would have prevented the issue."