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Quality Awards: What are the best midrange arrays?

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Technical support
Support is typically the area where users cite their highest levels of dissatisfaction; but overall, our survey indicates that midrange users are generally pleased with the system support they receive (see "Technical support ranking of midrange arrays," below). In this category, the StorageTek juggernaut continued, with an overall score of 6.45, highlighted by a score of 7.0 for the statement "Vendor supplies support as contractually specified" and a 6.9 for "Vendor takes ownership of the problem."

The level

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of support is often a geographic issue. "Having a parts depot right here for us is great," says Maritz's McDaniel, relating his satisfaction with HP's support services. "As soon as they get that 'phone home' message, they'll dispatch somebody right away."

NetApp's support gets the thumbs up from Tom Morrier, a systems analyst with Inco Ltd., a mining company in Sudbury, Ontario. "They usually let me know about problems before I know I've got them," says Morrier. He also likes the way NetApp monitors his systems and reacts quickly to problems. "I actually had a [drive] failure in the middle of the night," says Morrier. "When I came into the office to start my regular day, there was a drive waiting for me."

One EMC Clariion user, a storage administrator for a graphics hardware and software firm in the Northwest, says EMC's after-hours support is a big problem for his company. "I've had a number of cases where I have started with offshore support, worked through two cycles of offshore support and come back to U.S. support," he notes. He typically has to explain the problem again for EMC's U.S. support team. "I've spent all night working through Ireland and Singapore to get back to the States," he notes.

The lowest overall support score was EMC's 5.71, but four vendors all scored a 6.0 or higher--HP, NetApp, StorageTek and Sun. This is in stark contrast to the results of the enterprise array survey, where HDS' 5.76 was the top score.

But even among highly satisfied midrange users, training is an issue. "The vendor provides adequate training" was the only statement for which no vendor scored a rating of 6.0 or better--the best score was StorageTek's 5.95, while the lowest was a 5.43 for HDS.

This was first published in November 2005

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