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Quality Awards III: Compellent shakes up midrange array field

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Relative newcomers Compellent Technologies and EqualLogic snared the top two spots in this year's Quality Awards for midrange arrays.


The midrange array category for the Diogenes Labs–Storage magazine Quality Awards appears to be fertile turf for underdogs. In the competition's first year, StorageTek (now Sun Microsystems Inc.) was the surprise winner. In the last survey, EqualLogic (now owned by Dell Inc.) topped the field. No "big name" array vendor has yet to win this category, and the tradition continues with Compellent Technologies Inc.'s Storage Center winning top honors.

Like EqualLogic before it, this is Compellent's first time as a finalist for this award, and its 7.02 overall score narrowly edged out EqualLogic's 7.00 rating (on a 1.0-8.0 scale where 8.0 is the most favorable score). EqualLogic's high rating is a big boost to Dell, whose CX line once again rated last out of nine finalists. Sun fell from second to sixth place this year, while Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. slipped from third to fifth. Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and Network Appliance (NetApp) Inc. each moved up one slot from the last survey, to third and fourth place, respectively. Rounding out the field were IBM Corp. and EMC Corp., which maintained their seventh- and eighth-place positions.

The battle between Compellent and EqualLogic was a tight one. Compellent won

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three of five categories: sales-force competence, product features and technical support. EqualLogic won the initial product quality and product reliability categories. Scores for all vendors improved significantly this year, with five of the finalists' scores exceeding the 6.00 winning score from the last survey. In keeping with the rest of the field, Dell CX Series showed a nice year-over-year improvement in its overall score, rising from 4.92 to 5.38. In fact, the lowest category score for any vendor was 5.19 (Dell CX for technical support). Such scores indicate a high level of satisfaction across the field and are the highest scores for midrange products in the three years we have presented the award.

In examining the survey results, we also looked at the "top-two box" and "bottom-two box" scores for each vendor. Those scores tell us how many of a vendor's respondents rated it in the top-two or bottom-two scores on every issue. This is a measure of how totally enamored or annoyed a customer is with a vendor. In the case of Compellent, 75% of its 18 respondents rated the company in the top-two box, whereas only 6% put it in the bottom two. EqualLogic's 22 respondents put it in the top-two box 73% of the time, but in the bottom two only 3% of the time. Hitachi was the only other vendor to be rated in the top-two box more than 50% of the time (57%). Although Dell CX Series had the highest percentage of bottom-two box scores (11%), it wasn't significantly worse than most other vendors.

When respondents rate more than one system, we compare the results head-to-head. In this comparison, Hitachi had the highest rate of match-up wins (57%), while Compellent and EqualLogic broke even (50%). All other vendors were less than 50%, with Dell CX Series winning just 11% of its head-to-head contests.


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About the survey: The Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Awards are designed to identify and recognize products that have proven their quality and reliability in actual use. The results are derived from a survey of qualified Storage readers who assessed products in five main categories: sales-force competence, product features, initial product quality, product reliability and technical support. Our methodology incorporates statistically valid polling that eliminates market share as a factor. Our objective is to identify the most reliable product on the market regardless of vendor name, reputation or size. Products are rated on a 1.0-8.0 scale, where 8.0 is the most favorable score.

This year's survey, the third edition focusing on midrange storage arrays, had the highest number of system ratings: 316 respondents provided 516 system ratings. The largest number of responses were for EMC Corp. (121) followed by Hewlett-Packard Co. (81) and Network Appliance Inc. (66). Among all respondents, 59.6% reported on only one vendor, and 5% reported on four or five vendors. None had more than five vendors.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the product category, our respondent pool was somewhat skewed to the small- and medium-sized organization, with 62.8% working for organizations with less than $1 billion in revenue. Financial services was the largest market segment represented, followed by healthcare/pharmaceuticals and government/nonprofit.

Seventy-six percent of respondents are storage administrators, storage managers or IT managers.


Products included in the survey: The following product lines were included in the Quality Awards III survey for midrange arrays:

3PAR Inc. InServ E200*, Apple Inc. Xserve RAID*, BlueArc Corp. Titan 2000 Series*, Compellent Technologies Inc. Storage Center, Dell Inc. CX Series, EMC Corp. Clariion CX Series, EqualLogic Inc. PS Series (now owned by Dell), Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. StorageWorks EVA Series, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Thunder 9500 V Series or AMS Series, IBM Corp. FAStT and DS4000/DS6000, LeftHand Networks Inc. SAN/iQ*, Network Appliance Inc. FAS200/FAS900/FAS2000 Series, Pillar Data Systems Axiom 500*, Sun Microsystems Inc. StorageTek 6000 Series/StorageTek FlexLine Series, Xiotech Corp. Magnitude 3D*

* Didn't receive enough responses to be included in the final results.
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This was first published in April 2008

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