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Quality Awards VI: NetApp nudges Dell for top midrange array spot

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PRODUCT RELIABILITY

The true test of any midrange storage product is how well it fares over an extended period of time. In all but one of the past midrange surveys, the overall average for reliability was the highest among all categories -- which is also the case this time (6.45). Dell’s 6.75 put it on top, ahead of NetApp (6.69) and HDS (6.66); within striking distance were IBM, EMC and HP. Dell scored highest on four of the five statements, ceding to HDS only for the statement related to applying patches nondisruptively. With the exception of HDS, all products had their lowest scores for the nondisruptive patching statement. NetApp’s second-place finish resulted from trailing Dell by just a few hundredths of a point on several statements.

QUALITY AWARDS VI: PRODUCT RELIABILITY RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS

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Enlarge QUALITY AWARDS VI: PRODUCT RELIABILITY RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS diagram.

Breaking down the numbers

All products had average scores of 6.00-plus in the reliability category.

Dell was tops for meeting service-level requirements, having very little downtime, needing few unplanned patches and providing comprehensive upgrade advice.

IBM, EMC and HP joined the three leaders by scoring 6.00-plus on all five category statements

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Things will break, but the vendor that responds fast and with a good fix will please any data storage pro. Dell snared its second category win with an average score of 6.62, splitting the eight tech support statements with second-place NetApp (6.57). HDS and IBM tied for third, each tallying averages of 6.35. Dell’s strengths were delivering support as promised, rarely requiring problem escalation, solving issues in a timely manner and having well-versed support personnel. NetApp led for doing a good job training its partners, providing good training and documentation, and taking ownership of problems when they arise.

QUALITY AWARDS VI: TECHNICAL SUPPORT RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS

Enlarge QUALITY AWARDS VI: TECHNICAL SUPPORT RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS diagram.

Breaking down the numbers

Dell’s 6.93 for “Vendor supplies support as contractually specified” was the highest rating for any statement in this category; its 6.91 for “Support personnel are knowledgeable” was the second highest.

The two leaders’ statement scores were remarkably consistent; for Dell, its eight scores had a range of 0.60; for NetApp, the range was 0.49.

Besides Dell and NetApp, HP was the only vendor to receive scores of 6.00-plus for all statements.

WOULD YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT AGAIN?

QUALITY AWARDS VI: BUY AGAIN RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS

Enlarge QUALITY AWARDS VI: BUY AGAIN RANKINGS FOR MIDRANGE ARRAYS diagram.

A true test of customers’ satisfaction is whether they would come back for more. Often these results don’t jibe with the category scores, but NetApp and Dell again lead the pack with solid scores that should generate some repeat business. Among NetApp users, 87% said that knowing what they know now, they would make the same purchase again. Dell users were nearly as loyal, with 86% ready to repeat their purchases. IBM (82%) and EMC (81%) users were similarly inclined, with HP (78%), HDS (77%), Oracle (67%) and Nexsan (60%) rounding out the field.

On past Quality Awards surveys, midrange users have reported generally positive reviews for their systems of choice, and the scores from this survey reinforce those impressions. The midrange segment is the fastest growing slice of the storage array pie, so another survey of mostly positive results is good news for both users and vendors.

BIO: Rich Castagna is editorial director of the Storage Media Group.

This was first published in September 2011

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