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Quality Awards IV: Sun shines again in tape library challenge

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Tape library reliability

As noted earlier, one might assume that tape libraries, with their many mechanical components, would fall prey to reliability issues. But over the course of four Quality Award surveys, we found the opposite to be true: tape library users tend to rate those products fairly highly for reliability concerns. In both the midrange and enterprise classes, all but one vendor pulled down scores over 6.00 for reliability, with Sun coming out on top in both the midrange and enterprise tape library groups.

Among midrange products, Sun impressed once again by taking top honors for six of the seven statements and rolling up a winning category score of 6.61, well ahead of IBM's second-place rating of 6.26. Sun again flirted with a 7.00 score by notching a 6.91 for "The product meets my service-level requirement," but the category's highest score was registered by Overland Storage Inc. with a 6.92 for "This product requires very few unplanned patches/updates."

Although most errors are detected by his backup software, Denny's Hazel still relies on IBM's user interface. "The Web interface has been helpful when a drive does go offline," he said. "It gives you a decent error code, and the error code is very simple to look up to see what the problem is."

Sun's win in the enterprise group, with a category score of 6.53, featured another near-sweep as it came in second to IBM on a single statement ("Vendor provides comprehensive upgrade

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guidance") while scoring highest on all of the others. IBM again achieved a solid second-place finish with a 6.38, while HP and Spectra Logic tied for third with identical 6.11 scores. "All our HP equipment has been trouble-free," remarked one respondent, while another had similar praise for Spectra Logic, saying they're "very satisfied with this unit and the previous Spectra Logic units we have grown out of."

Library tech support

Ultimately, a user's final judgment on a product or vendor may come down to the technical support the vendor provides when the gear hiccups or falters. But the vendors in the survey again proved their mettle and came through with solid scores for tech support; all eight vendors in the midrange group had ratings that topped 6.00, while among enterprise vendors four of the five had scores higher than 6.00.

Sun accomplished another double win by rising to the top in both the midrange and enterprise groups. Its 6.57 score among midrange vendors was followed by some very close scores: HP was second with a 6.30, followed by Dell (6.25), Overland Storage (6.23) and Tandberg Data (6.22). Again, there wasn't much question that Sun would win this category after topping the other vendors for seven of the eight statements with a very consistent range of scores from 6.30 ("This product is easy to service") to 6.67 ("Support issues rarely require escalation" and "Vendor's support personnel are knowledgeable").

This was first published in August 2009

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