Quality Awards II: Leading libraries


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In the midrange group, Spectra Logic topped all other sales-force scores with a 5.79. However, nearly 70% of Spectra systems are purchased through VARs, so the company's score is reflective of the quality of its resellers and its ability to recruit, train and support them. IBM, which was second overall in the midrange category, was a close runner-up with a 5.77 for sales competence (see the "

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Sales-force competence" graph within "Rankings of midrange tape libraries"). Fifty-one percent of IBM midrange systems are purchased through VARs. And while 53.7% of Sun's midrange systems were purchased through resellers, it placed seventh in this category. Ironically, Sun's 5.19 in the sales-force category was higher than its overall midrange score (5.18). Spectra Logic's best score in this category was a 6.00 in response to the statement "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable."

Having other equipment installed at a user's site can also give a vendor a leg up in the sales process, especially for those that have end-to-end product lines. "Most of our shop is HP hardware," says Ray Littlefield, IT storage administrator at Washington, DC-based Conservation International, "so our SAN is HP gear." With HP servers and EVA storage arrays on the floor, Littlefield was more than comfortable adding two HP StorageWorks MSL Series tape libraries to his configuration.

The actual hardware or software products aren't the only sales issues for storage managers to consider. Who you buy your product support from, and under what conditions, can have a strong bearing on an overall product experience. When the storage contract on its IBM TotalStorage 3494 came due at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Booth says a lower bid from another company led the university to switch support services. "They came in $25,000 less," says Booth, a savings the purchasing department couldn't pass up. But, apparently, the new service company's capabilities were oversold by a much-too-eager sales rep. "They don't have any engineers in town and they don't have a parts stock," says Booth. And almost immediately, the company farmed out the service to a third party. Although the university is happy with the third-party engineering support, "it's been almost a year now that we've been dealing with trying to get the call routing straightened out," notes Booth.

This was first published in January 2007

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