In article 1...@perth.dialix.oz.au, mr...@perth.DIALix.oz.au (Mains Roads W.A.) writes:
>THIRD PARTY DISKS AND PERIPHERALS
>Hi. I'm seeking opinions/experiences on buying and connecting third party
>disks and other peripherals to Sun systems.
>The following is an example.
[price difference example deleted for brevity]
>Obviously the extra capacity for less dollars is very tempting.
Yes, it is and will continue to be, as far as I can tell, since Sun is
not competitive in this arena - they are doing much better than in the
past, but not perfect yet.
Generally speaking, you will find that disk drives and memory directly
from Sun are not as competitive as from third party vendors. At one
time, some years ago, the difference was many factors (2 to 3 times
more expensive). But Sun did respond to that and dropped that ratio
quite a bit. It varies between 20 to 100% now - depending on the drive,
vendor, your Sun discount, etc.
But Sun is still not *really* competitive, particularly for large
quantities of drives where the dollar difference starts to add up quite
rapidly. They also do not tend to provide higher capacity drives in a
timely fashion compared to the rest of the industry, and make you buy
older technology. Since drive capacities are improving continuously,
you can always do better by going with third-party resellers - they
respond quicker to market trends than Sun.
>However, Sun fought very hard to convince us that buying third party, non
>Sun tested and marketed products was a dangerous move. (And as a result,
>we ended up buying through Sun :)
Okay, you bought their scare tactic then, is how I would argue this
point. In many cases, you can get the very same *identical* peripheral
products from third parties. And yes, the good third-party vendors do
test on Sun equipment and make sure that the products work as stated.
Sun argues that they do extensive testing that guarantees better
results. Well, they have never publicly posted the details of how they
test add-on products, nor any comparison with other vendors, so I don't
believe their claims in this regard yet. If you have written documented
evidence to the contrary, I would like to see it too.
I have heard some Sun sales people claim that Sun modifies *all* the
peripherals to work on their system, etc., but I find this *totally*
discountable and unbelievable. Friends working for Sun have told me
otherwise too. Most importantly, Sun's mftg costs would sky-rocket if
they spent lots of time doing this to all the incoming peripherals.
>The reasons we bought through Sun instead of third party are:
>1. Sun equipment is automatically covered under our existing maintenance
> contract, whilst with third party equipment we need to go back to the
Yes, but reputable third-party vendors do exist. And, in many cases, they
offer service as good as Sun. Disk drives from many vendors now have 5
year warranties, so the existence of a maintenance contract is irrevelent.
If anything, not buying from Sun thus saves you paying that maintenance
fee to Sun for that 5 year period - this is an additional cost overhead
to buying Sun!
>2. We are satisfied with Sun equipment and support.
Generally speaking, many people are satisfied too. But I would not pay
for disk drive or memory support - unless you have no expertise in
pulling such stuff out of machines and shipping them to vendors for
replacement *if* they fail. In that case, having a Sun field service
person come out and replace the item makes sense. My experience has
shown this to be an unnecessary expense, but your mileage may vary.
>3. The multi-disk pack promises better performance, because you have four
> disks, and hence four sets of read/write heads, instead of just one.
Yes, true. And you could also use the savings in cost from the the
third-party vendor to add on slightly smaller units and achieve the
Plus, this comment from you gets the same response I make when people
talk about MIPS, etc.: "Does it make a difference in *your* situation?"
Unless you have truly tested out the configuration, your applications,
and how you are using the drive, etc., etc., etc., a theoretical minor
improvement in disk drive performance, without taking all the factors
into account, may not make one iota of overall difference to you. Apply
Amdahl's Law here!
>4. I understand that SunOS only supports a maximum partition size of 2 GB
> anyway. (Unless you buy something like On-line Disk Suite, which we
> don't have.)
Yes, but this is not an argument for *not* getting the 9GB drive. You
could partition it into 2GB size partitions and achieve the same
>5. From a Sys Admin point of view, it's quicker to format/recover 2GB of disk
> in case of disk crash/failure than it is to recover 9 GB.
Yes. But disk drive reliability has improved dramatically over the past
few years! That is why most of the mftrs can offer 5 year warranties
successfully. Look at the MTBF of the drives - you may find that the
9GB drive is better than the ones Sun uses, for example. But, again,
this is one of those "insurance" propositions - if your disk doesn't
crash in two or three years (not unusual nowadays), this advantage you
mention is meaningless, no?
>6. We had to make a quick decision (with end-of-financial year approaching
> and all that :) and hence Sun seemed the safe way to go.
No real comment on this. Personally, I would get more bang for the dollar
by buying third-party.
>But the main thing I wanted opinions on is "Do you think buying non Sun tested
>and marketted equipment for a Sun is a risky thing to do?"
Sure. Slightly riskier. The question though is: can it be justified? And,
in my mind, this is easy to do, since the price difference is more than
just a few percentage points.
>Whilst Sun couldn't compete on price/capacity, they sent us a lot of info
>claiming that third party supplied disks couldn't measure up to Sun tested and
>marketed disks in the following areas. (I am aware that Sun deals through
>third party manufacturers such as Seagate, Maxtor and Quantum etc)
>* Compatiblity issues (eg. debug of drive firmware, integration testing
> with multiple Sun platforms and OS releases).
>* Firmware issues: Sun fixes firmware bugs and quality controls all disk drives,
> that come off the production line. Third party vendors can't and don't do
> this. (eg. Corrections for read/write errors, data buffer corruption problems,
> error handling mistakes).
So they modify the electronics on board? I doubt it - they probably get
the drive mftr to make the changes. In which case the same mods are
available to the other third-party resellers.
>* Reliability: (eg. improved shock, vibration and cooling characteristics)
I find this hard to believe - the drives are usually not modified in any
way from what the nftrs provide. The shock mounts are identical if you
buy the same drive from another source.
>* Performance: (eg. optimization of buffers and disconnect/reconnect timing,
> building disks to work at the cutting edge)
Sun does not build disks. They buy from others. In this day and age of
surface mount electronics onto the system board, I doubt they modify the
electronics on the drive. This would be absurdly painful.
>Sun claims that because of the stringent quality controls and testing
>procedures they carry out, Sun equipment is the best value for money
>for Sun systems. Sun implies that if you buy anything else, you could be
Did Sun provide you extensive written documentation proving this? I'd
like to see that information too. I find it difficult to believe that
Sun modifies peripherals as extensively as this - it is simply not
effective use of their mftg costs, IMO.
>What is your opinion on this? Would you buy third party disks and
>peripherals for your Sun system if they were significantly cheaper, made
>by a reputable vendor (such as Seagate) and offered with a long warranty?
Yes. In a shot. The price difference justifies it, even if the risk is
higher. I'll take that risk for the savings. I was once asked by my
Sun sales rep what premium over third-party prices I would be willing
to pay for the "added theoretical Sun benefits". I said 5% then, and I
will say the same now: If the Sun price is 5% higher than an average
third-party price, for the Sun stated theoretical and hypothetical
benefits, I will buy Sun; higher than that, and I will take the risks
of going third-party.
>Do you think the standard Sun SCSI driver will drive the disk?
Yes. In all likelihood, most modern SCSI-II drives will work just fine.
True, there are some potential issues you need to worry about - i.e.,
don't try to put differential drives onto non-differential controllers,
wide-SCSI drives onto normal fast-SCSI controllers, etc. Most third-party
drive vendors are smart enough to ask the right questions in this regard,
in my experience.
>Would it be difficult to alter the format.dat file to get the disk to work?
No, not difficult. Many third party drives are already available in
format.dat from other sources. Plus, John DiMarco's scsiinfo program
works wonders for anything new.
>Are Sun just using "scare tactics" to keep business, or is buying non-Sun
>equipment a sure way to have headaches in the future?
Sun is using unwarranted scare tactics, IMHO. As long as you screen and
are careful to pick a good third-party vendor, you should be okay. Do
check the reseller/vendor out thoroughly first - get recommendations
from other purchasers, etc.
| Syed Zaeem Hosain P. O. Box 610097 (408) 441-7021 |
| Z Consulting Group San Jose, CA 95161 s...@zcon.com |