Murphys Law in Action

A friend of mine recently had a problem while installing a new SAN24B-4 (an IBM 2498B24, which is a rebadged Brocade 300 Fibre Channel switch).

The problem was simple:   It was dead.


The switch would not power up.  Swapping the power cord and outlet made no difference.
He opened a service call and got a callback from IBM support.   Their suggestion?

Loosen the 4 screws holding the mounting rails.

This seemed like a voodoo fix, but the screws were loosened and voila!    The switch was miraculously brought to life.

So whats the deal?

The heart of the problem is the Brocade rail kits shipped by IBM.  While they have the simple advantage that they can be installed into a great variety of  racks, they are in practical reality quite awful.  Check out all the parts (hope you brought your screwdriver!):


It turns out they come with a huge selection of screws to attach the rails to the switch.   You have to choose the really short ones (they are 3/16″ long and are #6 in the diagram above).     The reason this causes a problem is that a longer screw may reach far enough into the case to potentially short out the coil on the power supply.   While this is clearly documented in the install guide (and with labels on the switch), this kind of crazy trap for the unwary is quite annoying.


Murphys Law in this case is simple:   If it can be done wrong – someone will eventually do it wrong.

Given how amazingly easy the IBM server and storage rail kits are to install, it bamboozles me why these SAN switch rail kits are stuck in the 1970s?

Comments and war stories welcome.


About Anthony Vandewerdt

I am an IT Professional who lives and works in Melbourne Australia. This blog is totally my own work. It does not represent the views of any corporation. Constructive and useful comments are very very welcome.
This entry was posted in Brocade, IBM, SAN and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Murphys Law in Action

  1. Sandro says:

    I agree with the server rack kits, they are very easy to install. Most vendors these days ship screw less kits which is a blessing!

    But we installed a V3700 a couple of weeks ago and it was as bad as you describe this switch!

    I too don’t understand why server kits are soo easy to install but storages and switches are that horrible! And this goes for all vendors I’ve come across…

    • I have not seen a V3700 rail kit. The V7000 ones are quite simple as are the DS3512 ones. I have no problem with those although you do still need a screwdriver. With the Brocade kits you need spanners and screw drivers and the patience of a saint.

      • Lee says:

        I was asked to install a V3700 before product announce as we were taking part in the pre-release testing – I’ve never installed any kit in a rack previously so apparently I was an ideal candidate for a product that is designed to be a great “my 1st SAN”.

        I gave negative (but useful) feedback to IBM on the rail kit and hoped that they would amend the design to make the install easier.

        The software install is so easy that the less than best practice rail kit stands out massively and detracts from what is a great product.

  2. Dag Kvello says:

    As Sandro said, I really don’t understand why Storage/Switches (LAN&SAN) comes With these terrible rack-mouting kits. 1U and 2U servers these days come With easy Clip-on rails that are easu to un-mount as well. Buying $3-5000,- SAN switches, it’s annoying at best. I mean, the list price for a 1U snap-on kit in Norway is some $60 for the xSeries. The worst are the LAN switches With their Front-mounting kits only, leaving the switches hanging in the back.

  3. Seamus Ryan says:

    This issue is not limited to the 24B, the 40B is just the same and equally as confusing. IBM servers are better (slightly). I hate to say it but Dell rackmount kits without a doubt win hands down in this department (the old 1950’s were horrible). Having installed a few R710/720’s recently i must say it did give me a smile.

    IBM, HP, you could learn just this one thing from Dell IMO.

  4. Pingback: Murphys Law in Action – or the Rail Kit Story | Storage CH Blog

  5. karlochacon says:

    nice article I read it the day it came to my mail and sent it to some coworkers today we were installing 4 of these Switch and one was dead, one of my coworkers said “we should try what you sent” and yeah that was the reason this Switch won’t power on cool article save us a lot of time while waiting for another Switch

  6. David McIntosh says:

    Yep, Aaron Tully and I racked up one of these puppies a few weeks ago and the switch rail kit could only be described as a jigsaw. We did do the IKEA thing and checked the instructions before commiting the screwdriver.

  7. Tomas S says:

    Just installed four Brocade 300 with sliding rail kits. They are still god-awful. Amazing 18 screws with various heads, threads and lengths. 8 lock nuts and countless other metal pieces. To top this they decided to grease everything up, leaving stinky grease on your hands and clothes. Even low cost Taiwanese crap like Qnap has better rail kits. Come on, Brocade..!

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