Quality Awards II: Leading libraries


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The second edition of the Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Awards for tape libraries largely reinforced the results of last year's survey.

More than any other products in the data center, tape libraries are under assault. Disk-to-disk backup and continuous data protection (CDP) products promise to reduce a company's reliance on tape backup. With all of the focus on eliminating tape, one would assume that users are unhappy with their tape products. But that assumption would be off-base considering the results of the Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine 2006 Quality Awards survey of tape library users.

Almost across the board, the 385 Storage readers who provided more than 500 product evaluations indicated a degree of satisfaction consistent with that of our disk array surveys (see "

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About the survey"). Users apparently have a high degree of brand loyalty, too, as only 9% of respondents say they own libraries from three or more vendors. User satisfaction is further confirmed by the fact that 80% of respondents say they would buy the same system again if they had to do it over. Indeed, that rate is higher than the typical 75% we've seen in other product categories.

Bob Booth, senior research programmer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has used both midrange and enterprise-class IBM tape libraries. He knew the lower end IBM library couldn't handle the job anymore, so he checked out other vendors' offerings before settling on an IBM TotalStorage 3494 library. "It's been a very good investment for us," says Booth. "I'm madly in love with it."

The last year and a half has seen high-profile consolidation among tape library vendors. Sun Micro-systems Inc. acquired StorageTek, Quantum Corp. acquired ADIC and Tandberg Data Corp. purchased the remains of Exabyte Corp. The subplot in this year's survey is how users have fared under the merged companies (see "Products included in the survey").

"The library works very well," says George M. Adamo, network engineer at Waterbury Hospital in Connecticut of his ADIC Scalar i2000. Right now, he's taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the Quantum purchase. "I'm keeping an eye on them," he says, although ADIC has reassured Adamo that its service organization will be kept intact.

In 2005, StorageTek took top honors among enterprise-class products, and second among midrange products. ADIC was a close second to StorageTek in the enterprise category, but didn't fare well in the midrange category. To be fair, the postmerger environment is the most tumultuous for both users and the combined entity. Nevertheless, stumbles during mergers can create opportunities for other vendors.

This was first published in January 2007

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