IT Brand Pulse recently surveyed 146 IT professionals, asking them which vendors they perceived as leaders in storage virtualization. In addition to the overall leader, other categories included price, performance, reliability, service and support, and innovation.

IT Brand Pulse gave the survey participants 12 vendor choices in each category: 3PAR, DataCore, Dell, EMC, FalconStor, Hitachi, HP, IBM, LSI, NetApp, Symantec and VMware.

And the winners are . . .

EMC took top honors as the perceived leader in the overall storage virtualization market, and also took the top spot in the reliability and service/support categories, while placing second in the innovation and performance categories.

NetApp took the top spots in innovation and performance and, strangely enough, placed second in all other categories.

Not surprisingly, Dell was #1 in the price category and, surprisingly, was #3 in the market leader and performance categories.

VMware was #3 in price and innovation, while IBM placed third in reliability and service/support.

The other seven vendors each got less than 10% of the vote in all of the categories.

Here are the win, place, show vendors in each category, with the percentage of end-user votes they received.

Market leader: EMC (26%), NetApp (19.9%), Dell (12.3%)
Price: Dell (27.4%), NetApp (22.6%), VMware (17.1%)
Performance: NetApp (24.7%), EMC (21.2%), Dell (11%)
Reliability: EMC (28.1%), NetApp (15.8%), IBM (12.3%)
Service and support: EMC (28.8%), NetApp (19.9%), IBM (11.6%)
Innovation: NetApp (25.3%), EMC (21.9%), VMware (11%)

Frank Berry, IT Brand Pulse’s CEO and senior analyst – and’s newest blogger – recently blogged about storage virtualization. I like his lead:

“They say humans recognize the smell of chili, but dogs can detect the smell of different spices in the chili. Similarly, humans recognize storage virtualization, but industry experts see clear distinctions between the different types of storage virtualization.”

Frank goes on to outline the first two phases of storage virtualization, and provides a glimpse into the emerging third phase (heterogeneous storage virtualization in the cloud). And he also gives his view on which vendor was first to market with storage virtualization. Hint: It was in 1970.

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