A rant about IBM

Having dealt with IBM products (hardware and software) in the last few weeks, i have to open up a can of rant. The shit i’ve been subjected to i would not put on anyone, except perhaps my ex-wife. So here goes:

First of all, the hardware. I dealt with an, admittedly lower range, IBM Bladecenter S, and ran into multiple problems right off the bat. There’s an integrated DVD drive option, so you can install stuff off that drive, and just redirect the output to any bladeserver you choose. The only problem is that the CD drive would randomly, apparently, disappear, and cause any installation or other operation running from the CD to fail. So installing Windows from that drive was basically like trying to grab an oiled bowling ball, with cotton gloves six times too large for you. I ended up mapping an .iso file through the network and booting from that. Which was luckily an option in the remote control system provided by IBM. This was about the only positive thing about this whole ordeal.

So what’s next. Well, IBM offers something called AMM, advanced management module, and a web interface for this. This is supposed to be the central location for managing the entire Bladecenter. At first glance it actually looks good. It has a system status monitor, which tells you what components if any are failing, and it has separate sections for each of the modules and blades. The problem is, for each module, you need to authenticate separately, even though they are seemingly integrated under the same management website. Passwords like admin, and PASSW0RD do not inspire confidence. How, in this day and age can’t we do centralized authentication, and use random generated default passwords? IBM has been around since forever and they still haven’t got it.

To top things off, changing the passwords was different for each and every module. For instance, the SAS modules did not accept any complex characters, and did not allow you to change usernames (which are hardcoded as USERID, USERID1, USERID2 etc.). Bad IBM, bad!

Ok what else.. well then there’s the firmware updates. As for the AMM the update was straightforward and managed through the website. As for the other modules… well, i’ll pick the SAS module, which is made of dogs and curtains. You can log into the module through it’s assigned IP address (you assign it either through the AMM or during the initial setup wizard). Log in. Update firmware. So now you realize that IBM  doesn’t provide a firmware package above 1.03 which was installed from the factory, that you could install through this. There’s an update firmware function, but you can’t use it for anything above 1.03. So after hitting my head to the wall until i was bleeding profusely, i realized that i need something called the IBM Storage Manager, which is supposed to take care of everything from RAID configuration to statistics to firmware updates.

Download some 200-300 MB package, take fucking forever to install all of the numerous components needed by this thing. Fire it up. Realize after a while that it doesn’t detect the SAS modules at all. Google. Hit head to the wall. Google some more. Realize you need either a Linux platform or Windows Server 2003 (an 8 year old product that is either End-of-Lifed, or about to be), and install Storage Manager on that. Server 2008 currently not supported. Any desktop OS, currently not supported (except for linux, which i guess gives IBM at least one point). Install a freaking Windows 2003 virtual machine just for this piece of shit software. Finally get it installed again. Detect modules. Prepare for firmware updates. Get told that Storage Manager isn’t entirely compatible with the firmware version on the SAS modules (at this point i was ready to shoot up the office). So you can’t update using the web-interface to anything above 1.03, and 1.03 isn’t supported by Storage Manager which is required to update to higher versions. AAAAAAAAaaaaaaGGGhhh.

So, i get the package and prepare to update. I get told that it will take like, 90 minutes. Start the process. Update process freezes at 30 % and stays there for over 90 minutes. So i check the module logs, and realize that the fuckers have already been updated, and rebooted as part of the process. Abort the firmware process despite severe warnings about corrupting everything and setting the sky on fire. Reboot the modules for good measure, check LUNs and everything else, and realize they are okay.

How do you manage to fuck things up so badly? Or is it simply that buying lower range hardware gets you in a world of hurt, which you cause on purpose, so people would buy your upper range stuff? Either option means you are doing a bad job. Shun! Shun!

The end.

Quote of the Day

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

– Bryan, played by Liam Neeson from the movie “Taken” (2008)