Why the DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide Needed an “Enterprise” Ranking

DCIG has been producing Buyer’s Guides since 2010 and every time it produces one, new information comes to its attention. This information sometimes forces DCIG to adjust how it prepares a particular Buyer’s Guide to include how it scores and ranks products in it to properly and accurately reflect our findings. In preparing the 165-page DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, DCIG encountered such an anomaly in that it felt compelled for the first time to introduce and assign an “Enterprise” ranking to one of the backup appliances covered in the Buyer’s Guide.

2012-SR-Backup-Appliance-300x300.jpgTo provide some context as to why DCIG felt obligated to introduce an “Enterprise” ranking in the DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, it is important to first get some context as to why DCIG started developing Buyer’s Guide in the first place.

DCIG’s first Buyer’s Guide was its DCIG 2010 Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide. The intent of that Buyer’s Guide was to provide guidance to organizations about the different types of storage arrays referred to as “midrange.

As the time it was produced, two forces were in play.

  • First, the term “midrange” was loosely applied to many storage arrays. The DCIG 2010 Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide provided guidance as to how midrange arrays stacked up against one another so organizations could quickly and easily compare midrange arrays from the same and different storage providers.
  • Second, the storage market as a whole was already a fairly mature space. Storage arrays segment into three broad classifications: Enterprise, Midrange and Small Business, with organizations generally understanding which storage arrays fit into each one. For example, products, such as the EMC VMAX and HP P10000. are generally understood to be “enterprise“; the EMC VNX and NetApp FAS3200 series are generally considered “midrange;” and, Buffalo Technology and Iomega storage systems are generally viewed as “small business” arrays.

The backup appliance space is far less mature. Only in recent years have a sufficient number of backup appliances become available to even justify the creation of a Buyer’s Guide though few or no attempts were made to break them into different classifications  as was commonly done with storage arrays.

The DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide provided the context for which organizations could compare and contrast backup appliances from different providers. But as a first time Buyer’s Guide covering a particular space, anomalies can appear.

In preparing any of its Buyer’s Guide DCIG always tries to include products that fit within a certain range of scores. In the DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, DCIG normally would NOT have included a backup appliance like the STORServer EBA 3100 as it scored too highly in comparison to the other backup appliances covered in the Guide. The EBA 3100’s final score dictated that it more appropriately be classified as an “Enterprise” backup appliance which was beyond the initial scope of this Buyer’s Guide and thus should be left out.

The problem with not including the STORServer EBA 3100 was that DCIG was not and is not aware of any other backup appliance(s) that is as robust as the STORServer EBA 3100.  (Note: A new STORServer EBA 3200 was recently released that, based upon an informal review of it, is more robust than the 3100.)

To leave the STORServer EBA 3100 out of the DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide would be as an injustice to those evaluating backup appliances. The general classification of an “Enterprise” backup appliance did not exist and no backup appliance better exemplified what constituted an enterprise backup appliance than the the STORServer EBA 3100.

These factors led DCIG to introduce a new “Enterprise” classification in the DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide to help raise awareness that a backup appliance such as the STORServer EBA 3100 existed and that an Enterprise class of backup appliances is now available in the market. This has also led to the creation of a subsequent Special Report that was released and is available for free today with registration that discusses in more detail what specific features the STORServer EBA 3100 possesses that led to DCIG awarding it the “Enterprise” designation.

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