Quality awards: Enterprise arrays


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Storage vendors, like other purveyors of high-tech products, tend to tout their wares with lengthy laundry lists of product specs: speeds, feeds and features--the traditional "wow factors" of technology marketing. While raw capability may be a good gauge of a product's potential usefulness, nothing compares to the test of time and real-world user experiences. The Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Awards endeavor to quantify those factors by giving storage pros a chance to share their hands-on experiences related to several key storage product categories. In the inaugural installment of the Quality Awards process, respondents completed a survey on enterprise-class storage arrays and then several survey respondents were interviewed.

As the only award attempting to quantify the quality of storage products, the Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Awards differ significantly from other industry awards. Other awards are primarily popularity contests, with users typically voting for the product with which they are most familiar. As such, these awards become little more than proxies for market share, with established market leaders frequently snaring top honors. The Quality Awards seek users who have practical experience with specific products to gauge their levels of satisfaction.

Four main factors contribute to a purchase decision: suitability, price, TCO and reliability. This model fits nearly all products, from mice to mainframes. Of these factors,

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reliability is the most difficult to quantify. On the Quality Awards survey, service and reliability questions were posed in five critical categories:

  1. Sales competence
  2. Product features
  3. Product quality
  4. Product reliability
  5. Technical support

The winner is ...
No need to waste time with envelopes. The winner is Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Corp.'s Lightning storage arrays. In what could be considered a runaway, HDS' Lightning received the highest ratings from users for product features, quality, reliability and technical support. "The HDS products are the best of breed in service, reliability and set the standard in disk products," notes one survey respondent.

Other storage arrays included in the survey were EMC Corp.'s Symmetrix line, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s XP arrays, IBM Corp.'s ESS and DS series, and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StorEdge 9900 series. Given that the second and third place vendors, Sun and HP, respectively, resell versions of Lightning in this category, it's fair to say that HDS "swept" the award (see "Overall ranking," this page).

This was first published in August 2005

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