Top tape libraries revealed

Sales competence
None of our surveys, thus far, has revealed a significant difference in user satisfaction when the system is purchased directly from the manufacturer vs. from a VAR. This proved true with tape libraries as well, although responses indicate that a VAR is more likely to be a supplier of a tape library. StorageTek users purchased 50% of their SL-Series systems from VARs, the second lowest percentage in the survey (48% of IBM Corp.'s large libraries were sold through VARs). For Spectra Logic, however, 78% of survey respondents purchased their systems through VARs.

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In the sales competence ranking section, the midrange Spectra Logic 10K/20K/T50 received its highest scores for "My sales rep is flexible" (7.09), "My sales rep is easy to negotiate with" (6.91) and "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable" ( 6.91). The company 's overall sales competence score of 6.79 was the highest score in any section for any product. Although these scores reflect favorably on Spectra Logic resellers, it also reflects well on the company's VAR training and support program s. Although StorageTek's SL-Series came in first in this section for enterprise libraries, it was its lowest score out of all the categories. StorageTek's L-Series also placed second among overall midrange libra ry vendors (with a 6.32), where 53% of systems we re purchased through VARs. Ac ross the board, sales competence ratings were generally quite high, with three enterprise-class and four midrange systems garnering a score of at least 6.0 (see "Sales competence ranking").

The tape library market is crowded and competitive, so companies have many options when shopping for a device. A specific technology may often be the driving force that steers an organization to a particular vendor. Hobart's Sitler recounts that the company considered Exabyte Corp. and StorageTek among others before settling on an IBM library. "They we re one of the original LTO people," says Sitler, "and our consultants told us that was the way to go." Although Sitler liked StorageTek's LTO offerings, size was a factor in the decision. "The StorageTek units we we re looking at were bigger and therefore more expensive, and really couldn't be justified on that basis," he says.

In another instance, the size of a StorageTek box helped clinch a sale. "The size of the [StorageTek] library allows us to share it and leverage it among m a ny different servers," notes Craig Holt, a senior systems engineer at Health Net Inc., Folsom, CA. "That one library is able to replace a number of the smaller libraries we have."

This was first published in January 2006

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