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QUALITY AWARDS III: NetApp sweeps NAS awards

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Product features
The product features section gauges how well a product meets users' needs and expectations. Features are broadly grouped based on functionality, including management features, scalability and data replication in particular. NetApp's enterprise and midrange scores were again nearly identical (6.82 and 6.83, respectively). Perhaps as a testimony to how consistent NetApp's product line is from top to bottom, the way the product lines arrived at their respective scores was also very similar. Both products received their top three scores for statements related to snapshot, mirroring and remote replication features. In all cases, the scores exceeded 7.0. To have such high scores over a large group of respondents is a strong statement. More than 70% of those surveyed gave the products a rating of 7.0 or 8.0 for each statement. The lowest ratings for both product lines were for "This product's management features meet my needs."

"The N Series was at first sold to us because we needed the performance," says Baucum of his firm's clustered IBM System Storage N5200 arrays, which IBM OEMs from NetApp. "But what we've gotten out of it besides the performance is the replication, snapmirror, snapshotting [and] the integration with Volume Shadow Copy Services."

With most organizations experiencing steady disk capacity growth, scalability is a key issue.

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Ultrasonic Precisions' Fishman is confident his firm's two NetApp FAS6000 arrays will accommodate anything he throws at them. "The maximum capacity is 420TB; that's plenty more than we'll ever need, at least in the next 10 years," he says.

Being able to grow capacity is important, but the ease with which disks can be added convinced Husk to go with a pair of HP ProLiant DL380s. "HP Systems Insight Manager allows you to actually format RAIDs on the fly after just plugging in the hot-plug drives," says Husk. "There's no rebooting required."

The rating for the other finalists fell in line with the overall rankings, except for Dell. Dell polled a steady third in all sections except this one, where it placed fifth among midrange products with a 5.93. But that's clearly not a bad score, and it was Dell's only sub-6.0 rating. IBM's enterprise users apparently like the feature set on balance most of all, giving the company a 6.89 for "Overall, this product's features meet my needs." IBM's midrange users ranked the product line's scalability as its best feature. Sun received its lowest section score (a 5.15) for product features.


This was first published in June 2008

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