Top tape libraries revealed

Products included in our survey

The following products were included in Storage magazine's Quality Awards tape library survey.


  • Advanced Digital Information Corp.'s (ADIC's) Scalar i2000/10K
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s ESL/EML Series
  • IBM Corp.'s 349x/359x
  • Qualstar Corp.'s TLS-Series*
  • Quantum Corp.'s PX-Series*
  • Sony Electronic Corp. (All models)
  • Spectra Logic Corp.'s

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  • 64K/T120/T950*
  • Storage Technology Corp.'s (StorageTek, now owned by Sun Microsystems Inc.) SL-Series
  • Sun's StorEdge L500/L700/L8500
  • ADIC's Scalar 24/100
  • Breece Hill Inc.'s 16-/50-/100-PAK*
  • Dell Inc.'s PowerVault Tape Backup 136T/132T
  • Exabyte Corp. (All models except loaders)
  • HP's MSL Series
  • IBM's 358x
  • Overland Storage Inc.'s NEO Series
  • Qualstar's RLS-Series*
  • Quantum's M-Series
  • Spectra Logic's 10K/20K/T50
  • StorageTek's L-Series
  • Sun's StorEdge L25/L100/L180
*Not included in survey results because of an insufficient number of responses

About the survey
The Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Award for tape libraries is the fourth in our series of survey-based service and reliability awards. The Quality Awards are designed to identify and recognize products that have proven their quality and reliability in actual use. The results are derived from a survey of qualified Storage readers, who assessed products in five main categories: sales competence, product features, initial quality, reliability and technical support. Our methodology incorporates statistically valid polling that eliminates market share as a factor. Indeed, our objective is to identify the most reliable product on the market regardless of vendor name, reputation or size. Products are rated on a scale from 1.0-8.0, where 8.0 is the most favorable possible score.

Among enterprise products, four vendors scored 6.0 or higher on every item in the support section: ADIC, IBM, StorageTek and Sun. Although five midrange products averaged higher than 6.0, only two scored 6.0 or higher on all eight statements: Spectra Logic and Sun. Spectra Logic was the only vendor to score 7.0 on any support issue, and did so twice for "This product is easy to service" and "The vendor takes ownership of the problem."

For some, support is the make-or-break issue of their overall product experience. Citing his service struggles, HEWV's Sleeman facetiously says his ADIC library has "a nice case" and "tape loading is easy." But on a more serious note, he adds, "I'm not going back to these guys--it has been disappointing."

For the most part, our survey respondents didn't echo Sleeman's dissatisfaction. Although his StorageTek SL is still relatively new, Health Net's Holt is impressed. "[From] what we've seen so far, StorageTek service and everything is meeting our needs just fine." And Hobart's Sitler has managed to find some peace of mind because of the effective service he receives for his IBM tape library. "I'm pretty happy with it," he says. "I feel like I can go away for a week on vacation and not come back and be snowed under with problems."

Make the same choice again?
We also asked respondents to tell us if they'd purchase the same product again. It's important to note that this isn't a question about buying intentions, but rather a key measure of hindsight. On the enterprise side, 88.1% of StorageTek SL-Series users said they'd buy that product again--this was also the highest percentage among all library vendors in the survey (see "Would you buy from this vendor again?" previous page). In the midrange arena, nearly 86% of Spectra Logic's 10K/20K/T50 respondents said they'd buy those products again. In previous surveys, the responses to this question often didn't match the rankings of the survey; for tape libraries there was a very close correlation between buy-again numbers and category winners.

Part of a backup solution
Tape libraries are one-third of the B/R solution, with B/R software and tape devices being the other twothirds. By combining the findings of this survey with those from our B/R software survey (see "Quality Awards: Backup software," Storage, September 2005, IT organizations can assess what combinations of components are likely to yield the most satisfactory system for their environments.

This was first published in January 2006

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