Raid Management: Know Whats Really Going On

In today’s hosting environment it is common place for servers to have hardware based raid cards but what is not common place is having a reliable method for checking the status of the raid arrays. Few would question the value to data integrity by making use of raid technology but very few organizations and businesses implement the tools required to proactively maintain raid arrays, they simply hope for a DC tech to hear a raid alarm and assume the technician will handle the failure. The reality is very different, data centers are loud and increasingly server-dense so hearing a raid alarm let alone pin-pointing the server with the alarm going off, is a daunting task. I remember more than a few times where I found myself with a paper towel tube to my ear listening server to server to try find that troubled box with the annoying alarm going off. This is not how servers should be managed.

As server administrators or web host operators, it is your responsibility, your duty, to have tools in place that can proactively monitor the status of raid arrays and alert you when an array becomes degraded. That way you can have a paper trail of sorts when something has went wrong, submit a ticket to your data center technicians and have the situation corrected before a degraded array from a single disk failure turns into a multi-disk failure and failed array with data loss.

I have created and been using for sometime a script that can query the status of raid controllers from Areca, 3Ware & MegaRaid. The MegaRaid support is mostly intended for Dell PowerEdge PERC cards, however it should work for most MegaRaid based controllers, ymmv though.

The principle is very simple, the package contains the proprietary command line tools from Areca, 3Ware & MegaRaid that can query the status of respective controllers and then an accompanied ‘check’ script handles determining what raid controller is on the system and then runs the appropriate tool in order to get the raid status and if it is degraded or in any state other than a consistent one, it will dispatch an alert to a configured e-mail address.

Download and extract the package:

# wget
# tar xvfz raid_check_pub.tar.gz

The package will extract to raid_check/, you should place this under /root/ as the check script expects to be run from /root/raid_check/. If you wish to change the path then please modify ‘raid_check/check’.

With the package now setup under /root/raid_check/ you need to modify the ‘raid_check/check’ script to set an email address that alerts are going to get sent too. Once this is done you should symlink the check script to cron.daily so that raid failures will be picked up on daily cron runs, you may change this to cron.hourly if so desired.

# ln -s /root/raid_check/check /etc/cron.daily/raid_check

That’s it, you can give the check script a run to see if things are working. If there is a failure or inconsistency detected then it will be shown on console in addition to the email alert being sent. If everything is OK and there is no issues detected, then no output will be presented.

# sh /root/raid_check/check

Tip: You can check if your server has a raid card by running the following command:

# cat /proc/scsi/scsi  | grep Vendor

If you see Vendors listed as ATA followed by hard drive model names (i.e: WDC, HD etc…) then your servers disks are directly connected and there is no raid controller present. If on the other hand you see vendor names such as Areca, AMC, 3ware, or MegaRaid then you have a hardware raid controller.