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It starts with the sales force
The working relationship that a vendor's sales team establishes with a data storage manager is, of course, pivotal to whether a sale is made or not. But it can be just as important after the contract is signed, as the ongoing vendor-user relationship is often shaped during the sales process. As one survey respondent, an EMC and IBM user, put it, "I feel storage vendors should also guide their customers on how they can best configure the storage as per applications needs."
IBM led the field for the sales-force competence rating category, with a 6.30 rating that put it in front of NetApp (6.25) and EMC (6.21). IBM's win in this category hinged on its top scores for three key statements. The 6.58 IBM earned for "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable" suggests well-versed sales engineers, while they showed off their deal-making chops with a score of 6.37 for "My sales rep is flexible" and a 6.14 for "My sales rep is easy to negotiate with."
Although it fell short of IBM's mark for sales-force competence by a mere 0.05 points, NetApp picked up scores of 6.00-plus for all six rating statements in this category; it was rated highest in the group for the statement "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost" (6.13). The tight top-three finish in the category was rounded out by EMC, which showed particular strength on statements related to familiarity with its customers' businesses and industries.
Click here to get a PDF of the Quality Awards V: Enterprise Arrays standings.
First impressions: Initial product quality
After making a six- or seven-figure purchase of an enterprise array, getting it up and running and in production quickly and without mishaps is critical for storage managers eager to see a return on their sizable investments. The vendors apparently aren't disappointing their customers, as six of our seven finalists all scored above 6.00 in the initial product quality category; in fact, the average of all scores in the category was an impressive 6.21. NetApp led the parade of strong scores with a 6.52, followed by IBM (6.46) and HP (6.40).
NetApp's best scores were for ease of use, getting its gear up and running, and the level of professional services required for its products. IBM's good showing in this category was largely due to its 6.68 rating for the statement "I am satisfied with the level of professional services this product requires," but its other scores for initial product quality were all consistently high, too. HP, while not in the top three overall, nonetheless had a very good showing in the initial product quality ratings with scores higher than 6.00 for all statements in the category. HP fared best for the statements "This product was installed without any defects" (6.58) and "This product was easy to get up and running" (6.53).
The highest score (6.75) for any single statement in this category went to EMC for "This product was installed without any defects."
This was first published in March 2010