Feature

Quality Awards IV: HP and IBM unseat NetApp

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HP's and IBM's wins mark firsts for both companies, as neither one has ever come out on top on any of our NAS Quality Awards surveys or in our other two storage system categories: enterprise arrays and midrange arrays.

HP's across-the-board sweep in the midrange NAS field isn't unprecedented; NetApp has done it twice and narrowly missed doing it a third time by a few hundredths of a point. In edging out NetApp among enterprise NAS vendors, IBM's win was much like a split decision in a prize fight. It finished first in two of the five rating categories, as did NetApp; HP won the fifth category. But in the two categories where NetApp came out on top, IBM scored well and was a very close second.

It starts with sales

Our survey respondents delivered high praise to HP's midrange NAS sales efforts, giving the company the highest score for all six statements in the sales-force competence category. For the statement "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable," HP garnered a 6.52 rating, just barely ahead of Dell's 6.48. A key factor in making a system purchase that meets your firm's requirements and fits into its environment is a sales rep who takes the time to learn about your business and configure a solution appropriately. For the statement "My sales rep understands my business," HP eked out another narrow win with a 6.34 rating vs. IBM's 6.32. And for "My sales rep is knowledgeable about my industry," HP scored a similarly close top mark,

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besting EMC 6.31 to 6.29.

Although Jeff McMorran, director of IT at NMG, a purchasing services company in Newmarket, Ontario, bought his HP products through a reseller, he appreciated HP's participation in the process. "We had one account manager who was excellent," McMorran said. "He'd bring people from HP into it."

Click here to view a full-size PDF of Storage magazine's midrange NAS results.

IBM's overall top ranking among enterprise NAS competitors can be credited to its strong showing in the sales-competence category. Big Blue led the pack on four of the six statements, trailing only Hitachi Data Systems on "My sales rep is knowledgeable about my industry" by the slimmest possible margin (6.27 to 6.26) and NetApp on "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable" by slightly more than a tenth of a point. But IBM came out on top for statements typically related to confidence building during the sales process, such as "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost" and "My sales rep understands my business."

For Mike MacNeill, director of architecture and infrastructure at Cross Country Healthcare Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., a good relationship with a solid reseller helped him navigate the NAS waters when he was negotiating with both Dell/EMC Corp. and IBM for a system. "We had a really good rep who would kind of help us behind the scenes," MacNeill said. They eventually settled on the IBM gear.

This was first published in January 2009

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