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I love working for GigaOm because of its dynamism and the forward-looking philosophy that fuels all our research projects. The firm is a re-emerging player in the market, but the idea of positioning our research activity and the resulting reports stands out from the crowd, thanks to a different approach that I cover here. We focus more on the technical aspects of solutions, and the vision, and capacity of execution of vendors instead of looking primarily at market share and other parameters that are not really of help if you want to build an IT strategy that is modern, flexible, and again, forward-looking!
Be Safe, or Be Strong!
In today’s organizations, IT decision-makers have two options, the second of which drives how we develop and publish our research.
- Stay safe, always. If this is your mantra, I am pretty sure you are not reading this, and you probably never heard of GigaOm before. Your favorite research analyst is a well-established firm, and your favorite saying is, “nobody gets fired for buying XYZ!”.
- Be strong and always look at the future. You are of the opposite opinion. “Nobody gets fired for buying XYZ!” is actually what will get you fired. Because things have already changed, keep changing, and the pace of change is accelerating. If you keep doing the same thing forever, your organization will become less flexible, competitive, and responsive to ever-changing business needs.
All IT organizations, no matter the size, need advice on how to set and execute on IT strategy, and this is what the analyst does. It is up to you then, to trust one analyst firm versus the other, or collect more than one opinion and formulate your own analysis on every single topic.
The Key Criteria Reports
Last year we worked hard on new report formats, to take this into account. We wanted to bring valuable information and education to our subscribers and speed up their decision-making processes. The new Key Criteria report is an example of this effort: we wanted to have an easy-to-read, modular, and informative report that can help decision makers to evaluate new technology. Our primary goal with this report is to define what you can take for granted, and what makes the difference today while getting a hint of what is going to happen next.
This report does not include any vendor-specific information; most of the research for it comes from interaction with end-users and their actual needs in day-to-day operations, field experience, and observable industry trends.
From the methodology section of the Key Criteria report:
A Key Criteria report analyzes the most important features of a technology category to understand how they impact an enterprise and its IT organization. Features are grouped into three categories:
- Table Stakes
- Key Criteria
- Near-term game-changing technology
The goal is to help organizations assess capabilities and build a mid-to-long-term infrastructure strategy. In a mature technology, the solutions are divided into three target market categories: enterprise, high-performance, and specialized solutions. In a mature market, these differ in their characteristics and how they can be integrated with existing infrastructures. That said, the assessment is more dependent on the specific user’s needs and not solely on the organization’s vertical.
Table stakes are system characteristics and features that are important when choosing the right solution. They include architectural choices that depend on the size of the organization, its requirements, the expected growth over time, and the types of workloads. Table stakes are mature, and the implementation of these features will not add any business advantage nor significantly change the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) or Return on Investment (ROI) of the infrastructure.
Key Criteria features differentiate one solution from another. Depending on real user needs, they have a positive impact on one or more of the metrics mentioned. Therefore, implementation details are essential to understanding the benefits relative to the infrastructure, processes, or business. Following table stakes and Key Criteria, aspects like architectural design and implementation regain importance and need to be analyzed in great detail. In some cases, the features described in the Key Criteria section are the core solution, and the rest of the system is designed around them. This could be an important benefit for organizations that see them as a real practical advantage, but it also poses some risks in the long term. In fact, over time, the differentiation introduced by a feature becomes less relevant. It falls into the ‘table stakes’ group, while new system capabilities introduce new benefits or address new needs, with a positive impact on metrics like efficiency, manageability, flexibility, and so on.
Key Criteria brings several benefits to organizations of all sizes with different business needs. It is organized to give the reader a brief description of the specific functionality or technology, its benefits in general terms, and what to expect from a good implementation. To give a complete picture, we also include examples of the most interesting implementation currently available in the market.
Critical Impact of Features on the Metrics
Technology, functionality, and architecture designs that have demonstrated their value are adopted by other vendors, become a standard, and lose their status as a differentiator. Initially, the implementation of these Key Criteria was crucial for delivering real value, perhaps with some trade-offs. The most important metrics for the evaluation of a technology solution include:
- Manageability and ease of use
This section provides the impact individual features have on the metrics at the moment of report publication. Each feature is scored from 1 to 5, with a score of five having the most impact on an enterprise. This is not absolute and should always be verified with the organization’s requirements and use case. Strategic decisions can then be based on the impact each metric can have on the infrastructure, system management, and IT processes already in place with particular emphasis on ROI and TCO.
Near-Term Game-Changing Technology
In this report section, we analyze the most interesting technologies on the horizon over the next 12 to 18 months. Some are already present in some form but usually as part of niche products or for addressing very specific use cases. In either case, at this stage, the implementations available are not mature enough to be grouped in Key Criteria. Yet when implemented correctly and efficiently, this technology can really make a difference to the metrics.
Over time, game-changing features become key criteria, and the cycle repeats. Therefore, to get the best ROI, it is important to check what vendors are offering today and what they plan to release in the near future.
Introducing the GigaOm Radar
As I said earlier, we have two goals (information and speed). Whereas the Key Criteria report majors on information, the GigaOm Radar is all about speed and answers to a simple question: “what are the best solutions for my needs?” A simple, but tough question. The Key Criteria report is all about defining what makes a difference in executing your IT strategy at its best; the GigaOm Radar gives clear indications about the status of the market and where it is going so that you can narrow down the list of potential partners, and focus on who is executing better and is more aligned to your actual needs!
Figure 1: GigaOm Radar for Hybrid Cloud Data Protection
The GigaOm Radar chooses not to consider market share as a primary element for decision making, focusing instead on what will make a difference and improve your overall IT strategy. Vendors are evaluated on innovation, maturity, vision, the capacity of execution, and more. The report aims to be instrumental in helping our clients to shape the future of their IT, avoiding non-technological bias, and enabling decision-makers to face today’s needs while targeting tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.
Here is the introduction to the graphic above that you will find on any GigaOm Radar report:
All of the Key Criteria and the critical feature impact analysis are consolidated in the following graphic representation: The GigaOm Radar. This vector-based graphic gives an overall perspective on all the vendors included in this research in terms of technical capabilities and features (Table 2) and execution on the vision, regardless of their market share or segment (Table 1).
The GigaOm Radar focuses on technical capabilities, roadmap, execution, and the ability to innovate. In this graphic, for each vendor representation of the market, there are three fundamental data points:
- The current position in the chart gives information on the state of the solutions provided by the vendor
- The direction indicates where the vendor is going with the product strategy and development
- The module signifies how fast it is executing on its vision and strategy
The metrics on which the GigaOm Radar focuses:
- Maturity: Expresses the maturity and solidity of the product, user acceptance of the solution, and overall ecosystem sustainability.
- Innovation: The differentiation of the solution, innovative technical aspects, and overall vendor approach to the market
- Feature Play: Gives indications about the focus of the solution in terms of single differentiating features and technical aspects of the product. It usually includes new vendors that are defining new product categories, niche players, and point solutions.
- Platform Play: In contrast to “Feature Play,” solutions positioned in this area provide a horizontal platform that can face a broader range of challenges, with a comprehensive feature set and an extensive ecosystem.
The GigaOm Radar is organized in three concentric categories, and the closer to the center, the better:
- Leaders: All the vendors that are competing for market leadership in the metrics described above, even if they are competing in different market segments
- Challengers: All the vendors with the potential to become a leader soon, niche or traditional players with an established market, and other companies that have interesting solutions but still have to prove their real differentiation
- New entrants: Usually, companies with a limited feature set are too young to be included in the innermost category, but showing the potential to move there soon.
- The central area of the GigaOm Radar is usually empty. It is reserved for extremely mature and consolidated markets with very few vendors remaining and solutions that are mature, comparable, and without much space for further innovation.
The market share metric is excluded from the GigaOm Radar to give a clearer view of the potential of each vendor. It is a forward-looking market landscape representation that leaves more room for innovation and differentiation, instead of weighting established positions.
GigaOm is not your father’s analyst firm. This is why we focus on the leading edge technology (such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), Data analytics, next-gen infrastructure and more, for example), and we have a different approach to solving modern IT challenges.
The GigaOm Radar is not one of the many quadrant-type models that you can find from other analyst firms, based on similar concepts and developed on what we think a backward-looking vision. These are good to get a picture of what happened in the past, but they do not give a direction for the future. I am not saying that looking at the past is not informative, but that it is no longer enough to make decisions on the future of your IT.
We are developing Key Criteria and GigaOm Radar reports for a wide variety of IT topics (alongside other reports in specific areas). And, honestly, I am proud I have contributed to the creation of these types of reports.
I want to wrap up this (very long) blog talking about GigaOm’s business model because I think we are also innovating in this aspect. I know this is biased, but I suggest you take a look at our subscription options. You will be surprised by simplicity and pricing. We think that good research should not cost an arm and a leg, but everybody should be able to access it at reasonable costs.
What are you waiting for? Subscribe today and enjoy the reading!
And we are working on some interesting stuff for our subscribers, so stay tuned!