I have a poweredge 800 that I want to do some testing with. I removed the SATA hard drives (because I don't want to loose the info on them), disabled the SATA controller, and installed an IDE hard drive. The BIOS pics sees it as the master drive and the CD as the slave, but only the CD is available as a bootable device in BIOS. I have tried multiple drives, I have jumpered the drives as cable select and as master/slave.
You could consider an IDE to SATA converter (e.g. this one) and plug the harddrive into one of the SATA connections on the motherboard. This will be completely transparent to the OS you want to install.