We've found a direct correlation between a vendor's sales-force competence and its overall results. Winners of prior Quality Awards have always finished in the top two in this category; in this survey, Sun's FlexLine topped all others with a 5.88 and EqualLogic was second with a 5.57, which was its lowest score in any category (see "
Sun FlexLine scored a 6.07 for "My sales support personnel are knowledgeable." It also scored very well for "My sales rep is flexible" (5.97). EqualLogic had its highest ratings for "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost" and "My sales support personnel are knowledgeable." EqualLogic's weakest area was for the statement "My sales rep understands my business" (5.33).
Kern Weissman, director of network systems at Velocity Express in New York, undertook an extensive evaluation project before purchasing a midrange array. "We eventually narrowed it down to EMC, Hitachi and StorageTek," says Weissman. "We fully realized that all three would have worked."
Eventually, Velocity eliminated EMC because of less-than-satisfactory performance and Hitachi because of its complex software, and settled on a Sun FlexLine array. "We didn't have any strong bonds with any particular vendor of storage, so they weren't really able to influence our decisions," says Weissman.
Similarly, Trevor Rickards, server and storage administrator at Calgary, AB-based Compton Petroleum Corp., did a careful analysis of alternatives when his company was looking to replace its IBM DS4300. "Price was part of the initial discussions," says Rickards, "but as we got further in, realizing the differences and how they each price, we very quickly discarded that because it looked like it was going to be a moot point for the amount of storage we were looking to buy." Although the firm's experience with the IBM array was positive, it opted for an EMC Clariion.
Hard-nosed bargaining is sometimes called for. "If you have to pay list price for an [HP] EVA, I think you're paying way too much," says David Salbego, Unix and operations manager at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. "They're very willing to negotiate, but does that mean I know if I'm leaving money on the table or not?"
Rami Elyas, a member of the enterprise data storage and recovery services group at Lilydale Inc. in Edmonton, AB, says they put their trust in their VAR. "We worked closely with the VAR and IBM," says Elyas. "We used the reseller because they know our business pretty well and it was a nonbiased view--they didn't have much to gain whether we bought IBM or Hitachi or EMC."
This was first published in December 2006