the Promise VTrak M500i arrived: another 3 terabytes (soon?) to be available

Do you remember when I wrote about the brand-new Promise M500i iSCSI appliance? Yeah. They delivered it four days ago. And we’re nearly there getting it to work…but as usual: first things first!

This is the little bugger:

And that’s the whole rack:

So what happened:

We ordered the Promise M500i and 15 250 Gbyte drives:

Promise M-Class | Physical Drives Summary
PdId Model              CfgCapacity Location       OpStatus   ConfigStatus

1    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 1  OK         Dedicated Spare
2    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 2  OK         Unconfigured
3    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 3  OK         Unconfigured
4    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 4  OK         Unconfigured
5    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 5  OK         Unconfigured
6    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 6  OK         Unconfigured
7    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 7  OK         Unconfigured
8    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 8  OK         Unconfigured
9    HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 9  OK         Unconfigured
10   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 10 OK         Unconfigured
11   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 11 OK         Unconfigured
12   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 12 OK         Unconfigured
13   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 13 OK         Unconfigured
14   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 14 OK         Unconfigured
15   HDT722525DLA380    231.90GB    Encl 1 Slot 15 OK         Unconfigured

 Global Physical Drives Settings
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(that’s the serial console of the M500i)

Source 1:

And after getting the drives into the bays and the appliance we started configuring the device. As usual: one hot-spare and the rest for RAID50 (later we configured it for RAID5 only). The machine started the initialization/synching process…after several hours the 60 percent mark was reached…we let it ran the night and the next morning…”Synching: 20%” was on the screen…WTF?! we thought. Apparently no power failure occurred that night. The machine just restarted the sync-process…and as if this wasn’t bad enough it kept restarting the process on and on…

We reconfigured the device for RAID5 and started again…but after another day the same things happened: restart after restart…In fact there never was an error of any kind – neither in the logs nor in the activities display.

We even figured out another (maybe) bug of our M500i: When we unplugged it completely from the power the device forgot some of it’s settings (like the network configuration…). And the more serious bug: When I try to set the Management Network Interface to DHCP the whole administration consoles lock up completely. That means: no serial console or web interface until we rebooted the device (that behavior is reproducible).

And as this would not be enough the device booted with this text on the serial console:

IBL_ROM Ver 1.05.0000.00
Built 18:18:10, Jun  9 2005
Warning: Detected BAD NVRAM Signature
Engineering mode = Active
SDRAM Memory Size ...................... 256 MBytes
Initialize chipset for ECC(8) Memory ... Done
Initialize OS reserved memory .......... Done
Initialize Disk reserved memory ........ Failed
Platform Setup completed.
+fis load kernel
go 0x1008000
Load & Run:  IBL_RAM
DHCP Disabled
IP:, Gateway:
Default server:, DNS server IP:
IBL_RAM Ver 1.05.0000.00
Built 18:19:24, Jun  9 2005
VTrak M500i
Copyright 2005, Promise Technology, Inc.
== Executing boot script in 5.000 seconds - enter ^C to abort
IBL_RAM> fis load kernel
IBL_RAM> go 0x1008000
Loading software modules .......

Interesting isn’t it?

I called the technical support…but as usual it happened what seems to be common sense for technical support: No help at all. They told me that the M500i restarts the sync process probably because there are no iSCSI clients connected yet…I was told to add a client at least to give the M500i a chance to sync. (Actually this advice did not and does not make any sense at all…but I tried)

After this advice did not solve any problem (as expected by me) I again called the technical support. Nobody was there to talk to me in a language I understand so they offered me in english to call me back when there’s someone available. They called back half an hour later, told me something about a new firmware and that they (of course) never have heard of any problems like that with the M500i – and that they would have to ask the guys in the states if they are allowed to send me a new firmware (for a brand new device that does not work at all…). Another theory was that there might be a hardware error (this is my preferred theory)…but they would like to try the software update first…(the update would fix the DHCP problem hopefully). So they told me to call back at 1700 – and when I called back the answering machine told me that I call outside of business hours…

I really hope that this was a mistake and not intended…expect more “Stories of interest” when they will answer my desperate phone-call tries…

Source 1:
Source 2: solving data storage problems: How long can 3.5 Terabyte last?

One thought on “the Promise VTrak M500i arrived: another 3 terabytes (soon?) to be available

  1. The photo says it all, but you must take in consideration the space that such an item will occupy. It will take a lot of space from your establishment and maybe you should make a special room just for it.

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