How Velocity Tech Solutions Saved Spring Break

Spring Break is upon us. Each year around this time, I think about one of my favorite Velocity Tech Solutions “saving asses among the masses” stories.

This is Minnesota and spring break can feel more like winter solstice, so when families can actually get a room at the Water Park of America they feel like a Florida vacation without being in Florida. That is a BIG Deal!


I was the lucky one to carry the emergency phone that night. I happened to be at a social event with our President, Kay Winchell, which was a bonus for the customer since she is a network engineer in disguise.

I answered the phone at 10pm and I heard panic. A server was down and so was the Water Park of America! Kids were crying, parents were screaming, parents were weeping. It was pandemonium! The tech from Water Park of America was beside himself. He had spent the entire day dealing with another vendor and paid for parts to be couriered across the Twin Cities multiple times and the server was still not repaired. That vendor had not asked questions and just kept throwing parts at him without helping troubleshoot the issue.


We met him at the office and he was so exhausted he couldn’t remember the model of the server . We walked around our warehouse for an hour (It’s a big warehouse!) and he finally saw the server that was the same model.

Kay grabbed the server, I grabbed the parts and we went through creating his error. Within minutes we discovered the issue.

The tech rushed back with the cache module that was needed and within an hour the Water Park of America  was up and running and our customer was ecstatic! (And so were the parents that promised the kids the water slide that was as dry as a bone all day long!) We helped the tech become the Hero instead of the Villain. The only thing that could have gone better was if he had found us much earlier!

That night, it was decided, we don’t just sell servers, we provide the “WOW” experience and it became our #1 core value.




It’s the end of the road for Equallogic. Now what?

Dell and EMC are getting married again. In this being their second marriage, they are taking Compellant and Powervault, but leaving Equallogic as the possession sold in the Saturday morning garage sale.

What does this mean for the current Equallogic users? The support is ending, to extend support if even possible, is really expensive. So you, the IT person says, “well I’ll limp along until my budget allows me new storage”. Oh wait, no support contract, no firmware upgrades you think to yourself. “Will my critical data be unstable with no firmware updates?” I’ll be able to get hardware for a while should something fail, but… that …software……sigh.

You don’t have to be held hostage by the hardware OEM’s for your storage. The 3 to 5 year rip and replace cycle of pain, agony and expense doesn’t have to continue to be part of your daily pain and suffering. The difficult marriage to your storage can be repaired with a little information,  some trust and your current hardware. Yes your CURRENT hardware if you desire to keep it. Or, get a little crazy and mix your hardware up. Live dangerously, but keep your data safe.

What makes storage smart isn’t the hardware, it’s the software.  So why not get the smartest software out there that can run on ANY OEM and out perform everyone else and why not get the best least expensive hardware to run it on.

One word…… DATACORE. Datacore San Symphony V Software defind storage  is hardware agnostic. It will run on any OEM hardware. If your need is for speed check out the SP1 RECORD BREAKING SPEED: If your need is high availability or business continuity, there are real cases of years of zero downtime. Is managing data in one pane of glass a dream for you? They have that covered too.  Latency is minimal with Datacore as their parallel i/o keeps those multi cores working as they can simultaneously handle compute, networking and i/o loads with minimal hardware.

Let’s talk dollars and “sense”. At $ .08 /SPC-1 IOPS Datacore blows away the $.41/SPC-1 IOPS of and EMC VNX8000 storage array. In real dollars we can say as an example an  EMC VNX8000 will run about $177,000 for a mid range storage. Datacore $38K. And oh by the way, get ready to spend more than $177,000 in 3 to 5 years when support ends and you get ready for a rip and replace that EMC array. If you want to change your hardware with Datacore in 3 to 5 years aside from the hardware you want to purchase your cost:  $0.00. You don’t have to EVER buy a new license. What makes sense to you?

Datacore really does what Nutanix does for Dell, what ScaleIO does for EMC , and  what On Command does for Net Apps array. The difference is you no longer have to be bullied by the OEMS to spend excessive amounts of money just for it to do the same thing Datacore can do on a JBOD, or a DAS. So keep your old hardware, buy some new less expensive hardware, or go for recertified. Keep that return on investment to invest in your organization.

The partnership of Velocity Tech Solutions and Datacore Software gives you the best of all things storage. Low cost, high availability, speed and ease of use. Check us out, ask some questions, and don’t hesitate to ask for a demo.

Differences between Dell 11th Generation Servers

Differences between Dell 11th Generation Servers By Jane Shallow- Velocity Tech Solutions

So, you want to purchase a Dell server and suddenly you are confronted with a bewildering variety of Dell Server models. What processors do the various servers run, how many dimm slots does each have, how many drive bays? Never fear, here is a handy chart of the 11th generation servers that explains the differences, so you can choose exactly what you need.

First, some terminology. An R in front of a Dell server model means it is rack mounted. A T in front of the model means it is a tower. So, an R710 is a rack mounted 710 model and a T710 is a tower 710 model. Towers are almost always more expensive than racks in the same model, so if you can get away with running a rack mounted server, even if you don’t have a rack, you will generally save money. Some of our customers just put a rack mount server on a small table instead of buying a tower and then pocket the savings.

Dell rack mounted servers have a height determination standard call a U. So a model R610 is a 1U server, which means it is approximately 1.5” high. A 2U server is about 3 inches high. A standard rack is often 42U and network engineers use the U height determination to figure out how many servers they can place in a rack. In general, (there are always exceptions to everything), there are 1U, 2U and 4U Dell servers. 1U and 2U are very common and numerous, and 4U are less so because they often take 4 processors and are for very large applications.

The typical differences between servers, other than the ones discussed above, are: how many processors, speed of processor, how many hard drives, how many dimm slots, and redundant or non-redundant power supply capability. To confuse things further, a number of the server models were manufactured with both redundant and non-redundant power supplies, especially the R310s and R410s.

The two models mentioned above were manufactured as well with hot swap hard drive capability and cabled hard drive capability. So it is possible to purchase an R410 in one of 4 ways: Hot Swap/Redundant, Non-Hot Swap/Redundant and Hot Swap/Non-Redundant and Non-hot Swap/Non-Redundant. Too, some were manufactured in both 2.5” and 3.5” hard drive bays, which again multiplies the configurations possible with the same model of server. All this information is not meant to confuse you, rather, take it as cautionary advice to always compare configurations that are exactly the same when price shopping.

A couple of tips: Redundant power supplies are always preferable to non-redundant. That way, if one of the power supplies fails, the server can get along on the one remaining power supply until you can replace the one that failed. Imagine your downtime if you have a server with a non-redundant power supply that fails. In the best case scenario, you have a spare power supply on the shelf and the server is only down for the period of time it takes to change the power supply and reboot the server. In the worst case scenario, your server is down for more than one whole day while the replacement power supply is purchased and shipped overnight to you.

When you are reviewing server specifications for possible purchase, often the server will be advertised as redundant power supply. This does not mean you are being offered two power supplies. The server is capable of running on one redundant power supply and more than one vendor will offer only one redundant power supply in the configuration and then lower the price a bit to try to attract your attention.

Too, hot swap drive capability is infinitely preferable to cabled hard drives. With hot-swap drives you can pull a failing drive on-the-fly and put in a replacement without dropping your server. Look at our website,; there is very good information to assist you with your Dell server.  Continue reading

When to Replace Your Dell PowerEdge Raid Controller Battery

By Dylan Kerling – Velocity Tech Solutions

When dealing with any Dell server, there is generally going to be a raid controller; and depending on the model, you may have a PERC card or a SAS card.

The main differences are the cache and ability to use all raid levels on the PERC card. Whereas the SAS card can only run raid 0 and 1, along with not having any on board cache. Due the cache on the PERC cards, it also needs a battery to keep the cached data from being lost, in the case of power loss. Like all batteries, they only last so long before they’re worthless.

To see the status of the battery, the simplest way is through Dell Open Manage System Administrator (or OMSA for short.)

It can be downloaded from Dell’s website here:

The battery’s status can be checked under the storage sub-section, under the section labeled battery. It will let you know if it’s failed, charged or charging. When a battery has completely failed, typically the server will alert you with an amber light and error message on the front LCD. Replacing the battery immediately when the server alerts you is very important as a power loss occurring without a battery can lead to some issues and may not be able to write the cached data to the drives.

That wraps up this tech article. If you have any questions on this or any of our topics covered in previous posts, please feel free to contact us.

Don’t forget to check out the video to this article on replacing the Perc 5i 6i battery as well as our other video tutorials at our YouTube channel: velocity783.

Have a How-To request? Request your own and we will get right to work on it for you!

Replacing an iDRAC Express in a Dell PowerEdge R710

By Dylan Kerling – Velocity Tech Solutions

This tech article covers the process of replacing an iDRAC Express in a Dell PowerEdge R710 system board.

Start by unplugging all power from the server. Once the server is fully powered down, open the top of the chassis and look near the rear right of the machine. You should notice your raid controller which will have two cables plugging into it. Underneath that, you will notice a small, black, rectangular piece of plastic that is held down by a metal clip. Unplug the cables from the raid controller and push out both of the pieces of plastic that are holding it in place so that you can pull the raid controller out of its slot.

Once you have your raid controller fully removed, the next step is to remove the iDRAC express itself. You will first remove the metal clip that is holding it in place by unlatching each side from the metal hoops they are connected to. Once unlatched, you are able to pull the iDRAC up and off the board. Now that your old iDRAC is detached, take your new iDRAC and lower it back onto the slot that the old one was plugged into, reattaching the metal clip latching it into place. After that, reattach your raid controller and the cables and secure the top of the server. Plug everything back in and you should be all done.

Please note that sometimes the new iDRAC doesn’t always want to take right away and you may get iDRAC communication errors. I find if this happens after the replacement, several power cycles or draining all energy from the machine by unplugging the machine and holding down the power button for 15-20 seconds and reapplying power can help as well.

Once the iDRAC is communicating properly with the server, the replacement is complete!

Don’t forget to check out the video to this article and our other video tutorials at our
YouTube channel: velocity783.

Have a How-To request? Request your own and we will get right to work on it for you!

Installing a Dell PowerEdge 1950 System Board

By Dylan Kerling – Velocity Tech Solutions

This tech article covers the process of installing a Dell PowerEdge 1950 system board.

Fig.1 - Remove the fan assemblies.

Fig.1Line up the metal post on the side plane.

With your server case empty from having removed your original PowerEdge 1950 mainboard, take the new replacement board and orient it so that it is lined up the way the original has been removed. Place it down, towards the front of the case. Once it is lowered in, push it towards the back until you hear it click. If should no longer move from its position at this point.

Now that you have the new system board installed, return all of the risers, memory (RAM), processors and expansion cards to their original locations. After you have re-attached the majority of the parts, and re-installed the side plane, you should notice a metal post on the board, next to the port, that the side plane plugs into. Line that up with the guide on the side plane (Fig. 1) and push it in until it is secure. After that, re-attach the raid controller to the side plane.

Lastly, re-install all of the fans, push back in the power supplies and re-install the black shroud cover the processors and memory. Replace the cover to your server’s case and you are all set.

This completes the installation of the system board in the Dell PowerEdge 1950 server.

Don’t forget to check out the video to this article and our other video tutorials at our
YouTube channel: velocity783.

PLUS: Great news! We also have a related article & video on removing the PowerEdge 1950 system board.

Have a How-To request? Request your own and we will get right to work on it for you!

Removing a Dell PowerEdge 1950 System Board

By Dylan Kerling – Velocity Tech Solutions

This tech article covers the process of removing a Dell PowerEdge 1950 system board.

Fig.1 - Remove the fan assemblies.

Fig.1Remove the black processor & memory shroud.

The first thing you will do is unplug all cables that are connected to your PowerEdge 1950 server. Next, pull out the power supplies, so that they are no longer connected to the mainboard. Once done with these steps, open the case of the server and remove the black shroud covering the processors and memory (Fig. 1). After that, unplug all four (4) sets of fans from the system board. Lift the blue tab on the fans, allowing you to remove them from the case.

With these fans removed, it is recommended to remove the components on the board (processors, memory, risers and any expansion cards in the rear of the case), at this point. Disconnect the power cable leading to the backplane, located in the front of the power supplies. Along with that, remove the raid controller (Fig. 2), from the front-left of the case, by pushing down on the blue tab and pulling it away from the slot.

Fig. 2 - Push in the plastic locking pieces.

Fig. 2Remove the Raid Controller.

Next, we are going to remove the side plane from the mainboard by pushing in both blue tabs along the outer edge of it, and pulling up. Now that everything is disconnected, you will see a round, blue button/tab near the center-rear of the system board. Proceed to lift that, pulling the board towards the front of the case. It should shift forward and allow you to lift it up and out of the case. That’s it!

This completes the removal of the system board in the Dell PowerEdge 1950 server. You are now ready to install a new system board.

Don’t forget to check out the video to this article and our other video tutorials at our
YouTube channel: velocity783.

PLUS: Great news! We also have a related article & video on installing the PowerEdge 1950 system board.

Have a How-To request? Request your own and we will get right to work on it for you!