What are the best midrange arrays? - page 4

All in all, midrange array users are a satisfied bunch, but the winner of the Quality Award in this category might surprise some people.

Summing up the scores

Although EMC and Dell have similar systems in nearly every respect, including third-party field support provided by Unisys, the two didn't track together in our survey. Dell finished third overall, but varied between second (sales-force competence) and seventh (initial quality). Because our methodology includes user perception as a factor in the ratings, we hypothesize that perception is the key difference. In the case of Dell, Clariion...

is its top-of-the-line product, whereas Clariion takes a back seat to Symmetrix in the EMC product line. However, the products tracked closely on both initial quality and technical support.

The initial quality section of our survey showed the largest spread among vendors, from StorageTek's 7.11 to EMC's 5.7. Similar to the EMC/Dell situation, the scores from StorageTek didn't track with IBM and Sun, even though the hardware is the same (the bundled software varies by vendor). Our hypothesis is the same in this situation, given that the D-series and FLA are the primary array products for StorageTek (mainframe products weren't included in our survey). However, the IBM FAStT/DS series and Sun 6920 products also have enterprise-array siblings.

As part of our analysis, we compared the scores of products in cases where more than one product was evaluated by the same respondent. Having two vendors vie for business is a key part of some storage shop's strategy. A two-vendor strategy "is critical for us, especially when it comes to negotiating," said Maritz's McDaniel. "That's helped us immensely [in getting a lower price]."

In this head-to head comparison, StorageTek was preferred in 63.6% of such cases, while NetApp was preferred 51.4% of the time. All other vendors fell below 50%, with Dell the lowest—just 17.6% of respondents prefer its products. We also asked respondents, "All things considered, would you buy this product again?" More than three-quarters (77%) said "Yes." This indicates a high degree of product satisfaction regardless of a vendor's order of finish. StorageTek lead among our vendors with 86.4% positive responses, but Sun was a close second (85.7%). Even though EMC trailed the group in the overall standings, it had a strong 73.6% buy-again rating.

For more about the survey and how we created it click here.

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