Quality Awards II: Surprise Winner--BakBone NetVault is leader of the backup pack


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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 products 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.

Survey respondents
For this year's survey, 500 respondents provided 667 valid system evaluations. This yields a margin of error of +/- 4% with a 95% confidence factor. This pool of respondents was larger than in 2005 (465), but provided fewer system evaluations than last year's 775. Apparently, IT organizations are consolidating backup and recovery (B/R) application operations. In 2005, only 35% of respondents indicated they had a single B/R application. In 2006, that number doubled to 70.8%. In fact, 90.6% of respondents indicate that they have two or fewer B/R products this year. The highest number of products in a single organization was nine, the same as in 2005.

Technical support
The range of scores narrowed for technical support. BakBone's NetVault was again the leader among enterprise products, but its 5.79 rating in this category and for product features were its lowest category scores. EMC's NetWorker trailed the group with a somewhat positive 4.69. Among the SMB products, EMC Retrospect and Veritas Backup Exec had solid technical support scores of 5.70 and 5.35, respectively.

"We don't have to call them that often," says Alliance Coal's Haueter of IBM's support for TSM. "But when we do call them, they pretty much get us what we need."

Of course, everyone would like their tech support issues resolved on the first call, but expeditious problem escalation is equally desirable. "HP has stellar support," says systems engineer Yoho. "They're very willing to escalate the problem quickly--if they can't find a solution, they immediately bump it up to someone else."

While Price hasn't had any serious problems aside from the usual implementation and learning curve issues, he senses that CommVault is trying to strengthen its tech support. "They've been hiring more people, and you can tell that calls are much shorter and resolutions are much faster," he says.

We realize that first-level technical support is often provided by a reseller or company other than the manufacturer. Therefore, we asked respondents to react to the statement "Vendor's third-party partners are knowledgeable." BakBone NetVault received a 6.62 for this statement, well above its category average. EMC Retrospect was also highly rated with a 6.38. No other product was rated above a 6.0 in this regard.

This was first published in November 2006

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