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SANsymphony-V and UPS support

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Since version 8 of DataCore's SANsymphony-V introduced support for native Windows UPS support, I always wanted to give it a try. Using UPS agent software is a bit of a crap because the scripts you have to create either are executed too late or too soon or don't work at all. So I was really happy when I read about the native UPS support.

What do you need to take advantage of the native Windows UPS support? Right, you need a Windows compliant UPS. Almost all new UPS are compliant as long as you attach them with USB to your Windows server machine. Windows will detect the UPS, install drivers and a few seconds later your big physical server looks like a laptop when you take a look at the task bar. Now there is a power-icon that tells you if your are on ac line or on battery. It will also show you the remaining time for full charge or, if you are on battery, the remaining run time. {jcomments on}

Nice, exactly what I want.

According to the SSY-V help there is no further step neccessary to get a clean shutdown in an event of power failure.

So I decided to test the whole solution before putting it in productive use. Pulling AC line power from the server and the UPS at the same time forced the UPS to get online. The line power icon changes to battery mode. Moving the cursor over the icon tells me a remaining uptime of ~1h.

Checking SSY-V GUI, it recognizes running on battery and consequently disabled write-cache on that node.

Perfect, the first steps accomplished successfully.

I decided to let the server deplete the battery because the REAL interesting thing is to come: will Windows power management work correctly and send a "low battery" condition to SSY-V resulting in a clean shutdown of the node?

To cut a long story short, I didn't have to wait for the battery to deplete. After some minutes, Windows uncleanly shutdown the system without notifying DataCore to shutdown. After restoring power to the server and login, the well-know "The system was shutdown unexpectedly" message appeard. Well, I don't have to mention what that means to SSY-V. Unclean shutdown always results in a full recovery.

I tried to figure out what the problem was. You only have few options to change in Windows power management. No matter what settings you choose, Windows always make a unclean shutdown. Searching the internt I found out that this is a general Windows Power Management "feature". Others would simply call it a bug. With Server 2008R2, a USB-attached UPS and the native power management you won't be able to make a clean shutdown of your OS.

But wait, SSY-V's help states that this will work, even without any manual setting in Windows power management or SSY-V. So I decided to call DataCore support for help (once again).

First they seem to not understand my problem at all. After some discussion they realized what I wanted to do, requested support bundles etc. Even after telling them that this is a known bug in Windows Server 2008R2 and that this integration simply can't work, they tried to find a misconfiguration or whatever in the support bundles I sent them.

A few days later I got an email from DataCore's support telling me that this is a know issue and currently only a workaround is available.

The workaround is setting the "low battery" action to "Take no action" and manually create a task that issues a "net stop dcsx" on the system to cleanly stop SSY-V before the system crashes. Unfortunately they didn't tell me how to create this task. I can only imagine that I have to find out in any way that the battery is depleting and then execute a batch that stops the dcsx service.

Not that kind of integration I would like to see. Using this way is more or less the same as using an UPS agent.......

The last note from DataCore support was that they will add this problem to the FAQ for known problems. In my opinion they should delete the part that mentions native UPS support in their online help at all because there is no way to really get this working.

So please don't rely on the native UPS support in Server 2008R2 even if it's stated by DataCore to be fully supported and functional. It won't work at all.

Perhaps the problem is solved when using Server 2012. I haven't tried it yet. Hope the problems then are gone.  

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