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According to our survey, Hitachi has the most knowledgeable support group. It received a 6.89 for the statement "Vendor's support personnel are knowledgeable." EMC was second with a 6.61. EMC's only other slip in the survey was for "Problems rarely require escalation," where its 5.96 was solid but still below the 6.0-plus norm. Nevertheless, it received a 6.30 for "Problems are resolved in a timely manner."
Enhancing tech support with services like automated phone-home services helps to resolve problems and avoid bigger ones. "So far, we haven't had to have any onsite service," says Bates College's Bauer of his two NetApp arrays. Bauer says NetApp's phone-home monitoring service sent replacement disks before the suspect disks actually failed.
Odak had a similar experience with his HP XP systems' phone-home support. "As soon as something happens, they know it right away and they're on it right away," he says.
Based on the results from our question asking if respondents would be willing to purchase the same system again, vendors shouldn't count on stealing very many customers from each other. The "Yes" response rates to this question were high across the board. HP had the highest "Yes" rate with 91% of its customers indicating they would make the same purchase decision again. Hitachi received a rate of 89.2%, followed by Sun (86%), EMC (85.6%), NetApp (81.5%) and IBM (80.9%). 3PAR had the lowest rating at 70%.
Co-winners EMC and NetApp achieved their identical scores through different means. EMC rode to the top on very strong scores in the product features and reliability sections, while NetApp was a model of consistency. NetApp was the only company to finish in the top three of every section, even though it had the high score in only one section. Nearly every vendor demonstrated some positive attributes in this survey, as well a few areas where they would probably like a do-over. That's a good reason to do it again next year.
This was first published in August 2008