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Users tough on software
This is the only software product group in our Quality Awards program, and over the many surveys we've conducted, software seems to be judged more critically than hardware products, with ratings that are typically (and sometimes significantly) lower. But if there's any solace for the software vendors, it's that the scores have been steadily, if modestly, climbing since our first survey. In fact, HP's second-place score of 6.09 would have been good enough to win three of the four previous enterprise surveys.
The story's the same for midrange backup programs. Symantec's second-place overall score of 5.47 for Backup Exec would have bettered the winners of the first three Quality Awards surveys, including its own win in the second survey.
Other promising signs for backup software vendors are the improvements in the average scores for product features. Over the first three midrange surveys, those numbers languished in the 4.18 to 4.74 range, which, on our 1.00 to 8.00 rating scale, indicated the functionality of the rated apps was middling at best. The enterprise-class apps fared slightly better. Satisfaction with product feature sets, however, seems to be on the rise; for enterprise apps, the average feature scores on the last two surveys have been impressive, just barely exceeding 6.00 both times. Midrange products have also shown improvement, although less impressively so, with feature ratings finally climbing over the 5.00 mark.
Any IT purchase can be a gut-wrenching experience, not just because the buy might involve some big bucks, but because each purchase is a commitment. For backup software, the commitment goes beyond time, effort and other resources as you're also committing your company's data to the product. So the sales process is particularly critical for a data storage manager who's about to lock into a particular backup technology.
CommVault scored highest among enterprise backup applications in the sales-force competence judging category with a 6.20; HP, which proved to be a game competitor for CommVault, was second with a solid 6.10, well ahead of third-place finisher EMC NetWorker (5.85).
CommVault scored highest on six of the seven statements in this category, with its best ratings for "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable" (6.64) and "My sales rep is knowledgeable about my industry" (6.33). HP also did well on those statements (6.06 and 6.13, respectively), but topped CommVault -- 6.63 to 5.91 -- for when the sales process gets closest to signing on the dotted line ("The vendor's licensing formula offers good value"). All of the vendors fared well for having a knowledgeable sales support team, with EMC (6.37), IBM (5.77) and Symantec (5.65) getting their highest scores in this category for that statement.
The midrange products didn't fare quite as well in the sales-force competence category. Acronis picked up a couple of 6.00-plus ratings on its way to an category winning score of 5.65, but neither Symantec (5.36) nor CA (4.77) could muster one. Smaller businesses may be tougher customers for backup software vendors, but Acronis seems to be following the lead of its enterprise-class brethren, with its highest scores coming for those statements related to having a knowledgeable sales support team (6.11) and offering favorable licensing terms (6.11).
Click here to get a PDF of the Quality Awards V: Enterprise Backup and Recovery standings.
This was first published in June 2010