Wednesday 4 May 2005 by Bradley M. Kuhn
A few days ago, I acquired a number of IBM xSeries servers — namely x206 and x226 systems — for my work at the The Software Freedom Law Center. We bought bare-metal, with just CPU and memory, with plans to install drives ourselves.
I did that for a few reasons. First, serial ATA (S-ATA or SATA) support under Linux has just become ready for prime time, and despite being a SCSI-die-hard for most of my life, I've given in that ATA's price/performance ratio can't really be beat, especially if you don't need hot swap or hardware RAID.
When I got the machines, which each came with one 80 GB S-ATA drive, I found them well constructed, including a very easy mounting system for hard drives. Drives have a blue plastic tray that looks like this (follow link of image for higher resolution shot).
These so-called "EZ Swap" trays are not for hot-swap; the big IBM swap trays with the lever are for that. This is just to mount and unmount drives quickly. I was impressed, and was sad that, since IBM's goal is to resell you hard drives, they don't make it easy to buy these things outright. You have to look on IBM's parts and upgrade site for the x206, you'll find that they offer to sell 26K-7344, which is listed as a "SATA tray", and a 73P-8007, which is listed as a "Tray, SATA simple swap". However, there is no photo, and that part number does not match the part number on the item itself. On the machines I got, the tray is numbered 73P-9591 (or rather, P73P9591, but I think the "P" in the front is superfluous and stands for "Part").
I spoke to IBM tech support (at +1-800-426-7378), who told me the replacement part number he had for that tray I had was 73P-8007. Indeed, if you look at third party sites, such as Spare Parts Warehouse, you find that number and a price of US$28 or so. Spare Parts Warehouse doesn't even sell the 26K-7344.
It seemed to me strange that we had two things described as SATA tray could be that different. And the difference in price was substantial. It costs about US$28 for the 73P-8007 and around US$7 for the 26K-7344.
So, I called IBM spare parts division at +1-800-388-7080, and ordered one of each. They arrived by DHL this morning. Lo and behold, they are the very same item. I cannot tell the difference between them upon close study. The only cosmetic difference is that they are labeled with different part numbers. The cheaper one is labeled 26K-7343 (one number less than what I ordered) and the other is labeled 73P-9591 (the same number that my original SATA drives came with).
So, if you need an EZ Swap tray from IBM for the xSeries server, I suggest you order the 26K-7344. If you do so, and find any difference from the 73P-8007, please do let me know. Update: on 2005-06-22, a reader told me they now charge US$12 for the 26K-7344 tray. Further Update: The prices seem to keep rising! Another reader reported to me on 2005-08-08 that the 26K-7344 is now US$84 (!) and the 73P-8007 is now only US$15. So, it costs twice as much as it did a few months ago to get these units, and the cheaper unit apperas to be the 73P-8007. It'll be fun to watch and see if the prices change big again in the months to come.
When you call IBM's spare parts division, they may give you some trouble about ordering the part. When you call +1-800-388-7080, they are expecting you to be an out-of-warranty customer, and make it difficult for you to order. It depends on who you get, but you can place an order with a credit card even without an "IBM Out-of-Warranty Customer Number". If you have a customer number you got with your original IBM equipment order, that's your warranty customer number and is in a different database than the one used by the IBM Spare Parts Division.
You can just tell them that you want to make a new order with a credit card. After some trouble, they'll do that.
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