Quality Awards: Top NAS products


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Products included in the survey
The following products were included in the Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Award NAS survey.

  • Dell Inc. PowerVault 7xxN storage server
  • EMC Corp. Celerra NS Series
  • Exanet Inc. ExaStore EX200S/EX400S/EX600S*

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  • Fujitsu Limited Eternus NR1000 F200/F300*
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. ProLiant DL series Storage Server
  • IBM Corp. System Storage N5000 series*
  • Isilon Systems Inc. Isilon IQ*
  • Network Appliance (NetApp) Inc. FAS200
  • Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) InfiniteStorage NAS 330*
  • Sun Microsystems Inc. StorEdge 5210 NAS appliance*
  • Winchester Systems Inc. FlashNAS FN-1130 and FN-2130*
  • BlueArc Corp. SiliconServer*
  • EMC Celerra
  • Exanet EX200FC/EX400FC/EX600FC*
  • Fujitsu Eternus NR1000 F500*
  • HP StorageWorks Enterprise File Service (EFS)
  • Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Lightning/TagmaStore Blade
  • NetApp FAS900/FAS3000
  • Panasas Inc. ActiveScale Storage Cluster*
  • SGI InfiniteStorage NAS 2000/3000*
  • Sun StorEdge 5310 NAS appliance*
* Not included in the survey results because of an inadequate number of responses.

Initial quality
We expected to see fairly high scores in this category. While our hypothesis held true for the leaders, this category had the widest range of scores. For example, NetApp's midrange FAS200 systems scored 7.03 (the only product score to exceed 7.0 in any category), while EMC's Celerra systems received a 4.97, the only score below 5.0 in any category. HDS led the enterprise products with a 6.82. "There may be a few configuration issues to hammer out at the start," says CGI-AMS' Georgeson about his firm's HDS NAS blade implementation, "but the interface is nice and it has all kinds of options like quotas and defining users and groups."

We asked respondents to rate the products with regard to installation defects, ease of configuration and ease of use, among others. NetApp's midrange products received a 7.0 or higher on every item except for the statement, "I am satisfied with the amount of professional services needed for this product." Perceived overall value is an important indicator of overall product satisfaction and NetApp showed its strength there, too. NetApp's midrange product received the highest rating (7.06) in the initial quality category for the statement "This product offers good value for the money." Among enterprise products, Hitachi had the highest score (6.74) vs. NetApp (6.40) for the "value" question. When it came to the statement, "This product is easy to use," NetApp took top honors in both the enterprise and midrange categories (6.89 and 7.00, respectively).

Product reliability
The product reliability section assesses how well a product performs on an ongoing basis and how easy it is to maintain. We asked respondents about their experiences with regard to service levels, patch management and upgrade guidance. HDS led all products with a 6.84, while NetApp's FAS200 placed first in the midrange group and second overall with a 6.68. Hawaiian Airlines' Kekoa says his firm's EMC Celerra has been very reliable. "It's been awesome," he says. "We haven't had one hiccup with the NAS."

In other Quality Award surveys, patch applications and upgrade guidance were the two most problematic areas. This trend continued for NAS systems. In fact, NetApp's enterprise systems had a rare sub-6.0 score (a 5.3) for "Patches can be applied non-disruptively." That was NetApp's lowest rating for any statement in either the enterprise or midrange categories. Hitachi, however, was an exception to the rule. HDS scored a 7.0 for "This product meets my service level requirements" and a 7.05 for "This product experiences very little downtime." It even scored a 6.95 for "Patches can be applied non-disruptively," one of the highest scores we've seen for this statement. For the same statement, EMC's Celerra scored a 4.43; this is below the median of 4.5, which means that the overall user impression of Celerra patch management was negative.

This was first published in May 2006

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