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Sales-force competence
We've found a high correlation between a vendor's scores in our sales-force competence section and its overall rating. Such was the case this year, with BlueArc and NetApp leading the enterprise and midrange groups, respectively (see the "Sales-force competence" graphs in the "

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Rankings of enterprise NAS," and "Rankings of midrange NAS"). Ironically, BlueArc's 6.73 in sales-force competence was its second-lowest category score, while NetApp's 6.63 was its lowest category score. Eighty-six percent of BlueArc respondents purchased their systems directly from BlueArc, while 60.6% of NetApp midrange users bought their systems from NetApp--which suggests that NetApp does a good job training its resellers. BlueArc's highest score for sales-force competence (6.95) was for the statement "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable." Coincidentally, NetApp's midrange NAS product received its highest score in sales-force competence for the same statement, but with a slightly lower score (6.79).

"At the beginning, we didn't really trust them," says Meteor Studios' Juneau, noting how other vendors tried to instill doubt about BlueArc's financial stability. Despite some uncertainty, BlueArc sold the firm on the strength of its product's performance. "We're techie guys," says Juneau. "We don't really look at how they're doing on Wall Street."

In contrast, second-place vendors had their best showings in the sales-force competence category. Sun scored a 6.61 in the enterprise group, while EMC scored a 6.44 among midrange vendors. Sun users apparently like the firm's sales reps, awarding them a 6.69 for "My sales rep is knowledgeable," "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost" and "My sales rep is flexible." EMC received a 6.75 for the statement "My sales support team is knowledgeable."

"I would rate our local sales team very high," says Dan Lah, systems analyst at Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis, and the tech lead for all NAS installations in the U.S. Lah manages approximately 150TB of NAS capacity, all on EMC systems. Already an EMC Symmetrix customer, Eli Lilly and Co. also turned to EMC for its file storage, but it wasn't simply a matter of convenience. "It's a good product," says Lah. "It wasn't just because we were an EMC shop."

Product features
BlueArc touts its Titan SiliconServer systems as "highly scalable" and users apparently agree, giving BlueArc its highest score in the enterprise product feature section (7.14) for "This product scales to meet my needs." These users were also complimentary of the product's management functionality, giving it a 7.05 for the statement "This product's management features meet my needs."

"Personally I'm a command-line guy," says Meteor Studios' Juneau, "but I like the GUI on this [BlueArc] because it works really well." Juneau also likes the consistency between command-line and GUI operations. "Everything you do in the GUI, you can do on the command line."

This was first published in June 2007

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