Feature

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

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for a chart of
how Enterprise Arrays scored (PDF).

Sales-force competence
"They were great," says Jim Bauer, director of network and infrastructure services at Bates College in Lewiston, ME. "The folks from NetApp understand what we're looking for and understand their products really well."

The sales-cycle experience plays an important role and often lays the foundation for the ensuing user experience. Scores for the sales-force competence section of our survey generally correlate closely with overall results, but not this time. HP, which placed fourth overall, ranked highest for its sales force with a 6.43. NetApp wasn't far behind with a 6.39, followed by Hitachi Data Systems (6.38) and EMC (6.35). In this section, we asked users to tell us their experience regarding sales-force knowledge, flexibility and negotiability.

For many users, the sales process often involves a reseller and the product manufacturer. "We go through a reseller, but usually the reseller brings in resources from Hitachi," says Bryan Moore, storage manager for enterprise IT operations at Scripps Networks in Knoxville, TN. But even with a reseller in the picture, the vendor still plays a pivotal role. "Whenever we have anything outside of normal growth," says Moore, "we bring [Hitachi] in and they assess what our needs are and try to create the best possible fit."

James Odak, senior global systems engineer at Chicago's Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., worked with both his reseller and HP to acquire the company's StorageWorks XP10000 and XP12000 arrays. His reseller "brought in the HP guy to help them out with the sale," he says. "They did a good job." Odak had a good idea of what Wrigley needed, but used his sales resources to confirm his choices. "I kind of tell them what I really need and they just sanity-proof it," he says.

HP's sales-force competence score was the lowest high score of any survey section. Yet no vendor knocked the cover off the ball in any particular area. Most vendors did well on the statement "My vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable," with NetApp receiving the highest score. The statement also provided EMC with its highest category score (6.58). HP received its highest score (6.63) for "My sales rep is flexible."

This was first published in August 2008

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