Q&A Part One: Gartner Talks About APM Cool Vendors
June 25, 2012
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In Part One of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Jonah Kowall, Research Director in Gartner's IT Operations Research group, discusses the Cool Vendors in Application Performance Monitoring report, and emerging technologies in APM.

APM: What was the concept behind Cool Vendors in Application Performance Monitoring? How do you define a Cool Vendor?

JK: The idea behind the Cool Vendors in Application Performance Monitoring (APM) report is just to point out companies that are developing interesting technologies that have not been included in a Magic Quadrant or other Gartner report.

APM: In the Cool Vendors report, you are not necessarily recommending organizations to adopt these technologies, but only to look into the companies to find out more about what they are doing?

JK: Yes, it is a way to say: check out these companies that are doing something innovative. It is also a way to highlight emerging vendors that often end up doing well. If you go back into the history of the Cool Vendors reports, many of the companies covered in those reports have gone on to be successful.

Obviously most of these companies have liability concerns because they are going to be small and emerging companies that do not have many customers. So they are companies to take a look at, but not companies that you want to position as your strategic core.

APM: What is the process? How were the Cool Vendors chosen?

JK: Gartner Analyst Will Cappelli and I went through a list of companies that we thought were doing interesting things – companies that were not previously featured in a Magic Quadrant report – and we chose companies that are taking a different angle on solving problems.

It is up to the Gartner analysts to decide which companies are included in the Cool Vendors report. There is no criteria. There is none of the structure that we have for a Gartner branded research document. A Gartner analyst can write about anything they feel is relevant, interesting and important to the market. We don't have any type of constraints as to what we have to write about or what we cannot write about. That is one of the points that differentiates Gartner from some of the other analyst firms.

We give our opinion, tell you what's interesting, and highlight some vendors. We can even stretch the definition of the Cool Vendors report itself. So a couple of vendors in this year's report were not technically APM, although they definitely have an impact on the APM market.

APM: What is the most interesting information about the APM industry that you discovered while researching the Cool Vendors?

JK: Granularity of the data is driving much of the APM-related decisions. So we are seeing many emerging companies that do very fine-grained monitoring, whether it is APM or system monitoring or network monitoring. Look at the direction that DevOps is going: measure everything, store everything, because you might need it in the future. We are starting to see technology that embraces that mantra in general.

APM: Many of your reports seem to encourage IT organizations to explore cutting edge technologies. Is this one of your goals?

JK: By bringing these emerging technologies up, not only to enterprises but to the market in general, it helps push the envelope a lot more and drives vendors that have conservative product roadmaps to strive to solve the problems that some of these smaller companies are solving. We see these bigger vendors that don't have certain types of capabilities almost forced to invest in those capabilities. And then with emerging companies, users can potentially work better deals than – or at least provide a competitive situation with – an existing vendor.

APM: So it is not just about educating the people who are buying these technologies, but also to actually drive change in the vendors and the industry itself?

JK: I would say that is definitely part of what I try to do, to not only have end users push the envelope as far as what they can do with the technology, but also to ensure that the vendors understand that there are people who are innovating and pushing technology forward, and that they need to keep pace in order to participate in the market.

ABOUT Jonah Kowall

Jonah Kowall is a Research Director in Gartner's IT Operations Research group. He focuses on application performance monitoring (APM), event correlation and analysis (ECA), network management systems (NMSs), network performance management (NPM), network configuration and change management (NCCM), and general system and infrastructure monitoring technologies. Previously Kowall managed a global team of engineers and managers for MFG.com, and was responsible for monitoring and enterprise management software and architecture at Thomson Reuters.

Related Links:

Q&A Part Two: Gartner Talks About SaaS APM

Q&A Part Three: Gartner Talks About Application Performance Management

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