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Quality Awards IV: Sun shines again in tape library challenge

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In the enterprise library group, Sun's tech support ranked No. 1 but by a much smaller margin, 6.51 vs. IBM's 6.47. As it did in the midrange group, Sun notched its highest statement score (a 6.81) for "Vendor's support personnel are knowledgeable."

The State of Tennessee's Arnold rated Sun's support as "very good" and added, "I guess that's the main reason I've stayed with them, because I've had such good luck on response time on issues."

IBM's strong showing was the result of topping the group on three of the eight statements and rating particularly well for knowledgeable support personnel (6.66) and timely problem resolution (6.62). The battle for third place was won by Hewlett-Packard, which nosed out Spectra Logic by a score of 6.26 to 6.22.

Buy that tape library again?

Over the course of the nearly 20 Quality Awards surveys we've conducted, when we ask respondents if they would once again buy the product they're rating, the results sometimes contradict the other scores they volunteered. Although that may seem counterintuitive, it may simply be a case of sticking with a product that has had its intricacies and idiosyncrasies successfully deciphered. Overall, 85% of respondents said they'd buy their midrange library again; for enterprise libraries, 87% would be willing to take the plunge again.

This time, there were fewer surprises among individual vendors. Sun Microsystems backed up its midrange win with a solid 91% saying

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they'd buy their Sun product again. Hewlett-Packard users were nearly as enthusiastic, with 90% saying they'd buy their library again. Overland Storage was a close third with 88%, followed by IBM (87%).

In the enterprise group, Sun missed a "buy again" sweep by approximately 1 percentage point. HP topped the group with 89% saying they'd buy their enterprise library again, just beating out Sun and IBM, which both had 88%.

Fixtures in the data center

In the other surveys we've conducted, we've seen some evidence that tape libraries are playing a smaller roll in the backup process. For example, the size of libraries, as measured by the number of slots, has been steadily decreasing due in part to higher-capacity drives but also because of the growing use of disk. But we've also seen a steady reliance on tape technology, with more than 80% of users saying they still spin off some or all backup data to tape. So tape is likely to be around for a while, and tape library vendors are apparently doing a good job of providing reliable, effective products.

BIO: Rich Castagna (rcastagna@storagemagazine.com) is editorial director of the Storage Media Group.

This was first published in August 2009

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