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Quality Awards IV: It's a tie--EMC and NetApp share enterprise array honors

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In our closest Quality Awards finish yet, EMC and NetApp tied for first, with Hitachi Data Systems and Hewlett-Packard only a few fractions of a point behind.

In the four years we've conducted our Diogenes Labs–Storage magazine Quality Award for enterprise arrays we've never had co-winners until EMC Corp. and NetApp tied for first place this year.

EMC has risen steadily in this survey and enters the winner's circle for the first time. Similarly, NetApp rose from prior disappointing results in the enterprise array category to join EMC at the top. Both companies posted overall scores of 6.53 on the survey's 1.0 to 8.0 scoring scale. NetApp is on a roll after winning top honors in the most recent NAS survey for its enterprise and midrange systems. Hitachi Data Systems Corp., the winner of all three previous enterprise array awards, fell to third place with a score of 6.50. And to further emphasize what a horse race this year's competition was, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. trailed Hitachi by a mere 0.01 of a point. IBM Corp. finished fifth with a 6.39.

The competition was close across the board (see "Products in the survey," below). Our survey includes five sections and within those sections we had four different companies post the high score (see "About the survey," below). EMC was the only company to win two categories: product

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features and product reliability. Surprisingly, previously dominant Hitachi Data Systems didn't win a single section. Sun Microsystems Inc. (sixth) and 3PAR Inc. (seventh) were the other two companies that didn't win a category, although Sun had a respectable 6.32 overall finish. 3PAR, in its first year as a finalist, experienced just how brutally competitive this category can be. While its 5.94 final score indicates strong user satisfaction, it was the only company to finish below 6.0, coming in last in all categories.

Average scores were slightly higher than last year, a trend with recent surveys. EMC's and NetApp's winning score of 6.53 was the highest overall tally we've seen in any of our enterprise surveys. In last year's survey, 30% of EMC respondents reported having more than 200TB of data, earning the firm the designation as the group's "heavy lifter." While 30.5% of EMC users topped the 200TB mark this year, Hitachi Data Systems nudged past EMC to claim the "heavy lifter" crown with 30.7% of its respondents having that amount of data. Across the board, large-scale sites increased significantly. All but one of the vendors in the survey had at least 20% of its users in the 200TB-plus range, the exception being 3PAR with 5% (one user).


Products in the survey: The following enterprise array products were included in the survey: 3PAR Inc. InServ Storage Server S400/S800, EMC Corp. Symmetrix 3000 Series/8000 Series/DMX/DMX-3/DMX-4, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. StorageWorks XP Series, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Lightning 99xx Series or USP/USP V/USP VM Series, IBM Corp. ESS ("Shark") F Series/800 Series/800 Turbo Series/DS8000 Series, NetApp FAS3000/FAS6000 Series, Sun Microsystems Inc. StorageTek 99xx series*


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 assess 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. Indeed, our objective is to identify the most reliable products on the market regardless of vendor name, reputation or size. Products were rated on a 1.0 to 8.0 scale, where 8.0 is the best score.

A total of 379 respondents provided 592 system evaluations. This response rate yielded a +/- 6% margin of error with a 95% confidence factor. As usual, EMC Corp. had the largest response group with 167 system ratings. NetApp was second with 119 system ratings and 3PAR Inc. had the least with 20 ratings, which was still well over the minimum statistical threshold. Of all respondents, 63.3% had only one vendor, 23% had two vendors, and the remainder had three or more.

Respondents' company size, based on annual revenue, split relatively evenly at the $1 billion mark, with half above and half below that figure. Of those surveyed, 26.4% belong to organizations with $10 billion or more in revenue, and 25% were from organizations with less than $100 million in revenue. IT services had the largest industry sector representation with 20.9% of respondents, followed by financial services with 16.9%.

* All of the above products received enough responses on the survey to be finalists.

This was first published in August 2008

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