In APMdigest's exclusive interview, Russell Rothstein, Station Master and CEO of IT Central Station, and veteran of the APM industry, discusses APM product reviews on itcentralstation.com.
APM: Even though IT Central Station covers many technologies, you have extensive experience with APM in particular.
RR: I had the fortune to work for two great companies during their growth stage in APM.
At OPNET, I was AVP Product Marketing when the company transitioned from a network performance vendor to a mainstream APM player. I spent a lot of my time there leading and nurturing OPNET’s partnership with Riverbed, which was consummated last year.
At OpTier I was VP Product Marketing during a period when the company became a leader in Gartner’s APM magic quadrant.
I’ve also consulted to two other innovative, fast-growing private companies in the APM space.
APM: Explain the concept behind IT Central Station.
RR: Simple. When the Wall Street Journal covered our launch, they called us “The Yelp for IT.”
APM: Who are the reviewers on IT Central Station?
RR: Our reviewers are real users of APM software and other enterprise tech products. We also allow independent consultants and analysts to post reviews. Our site clearly identifies whether the reviewer is a user, consultant or analyst.
APM: There is a sign on your site that indicates when someone is a "Real User". How do you verify this?
RR: In order to write a review, you must register with your LinkedIn profile. Our registration process validates that you work for an end-user organization in an appropriate job function to review that product. That way we ensure our reviews are authentic. It’s very different than the popular consumer review sites where up to 20% of the reviews are fake since there is no validation of the reviewer.
APM: Are vendors represented anywhere on the site?
RR: IT Central Station is a vendor-neutral platform, but there are plenty of ways for vendors to get involved. Vendor employees cannot write reviews of their own products (or of competitor products), but many vendors use our free vendor kit to mobilize their best customers to write reviews. We also rolled out a set of premium offerings for vendors to promote their best reviews. IT buyers are looking for reviews when building their short list, so promoting good reviews is critical for lead generation and content marketing.
Product reviews are a fabulous source of information for product planning and market intelligence gathering. APMdigest readers who work for a vendor should encourage their Product Management team to utilize this valuable data from a broad set of APM users and experts. If companies rely solely on their own customers, they’ll get a narrow and biased view of market needs.
APM: Are most of the reviews in support of or against particular APM products?
RR: Research from Google shows that across the web 80% of reviews are 4- or 5-stars. We see a similar rate on IT Central Station. People primarily want to write about the products that have made them successful in their job and/or to promote their own knowledge.
APM: According to the reviews on IT Central Station, what do most APM users care about?
RR: Ease-of-use and ease-of-integration with other tools seems to be a common issue. Especially since Gartner and others are recommending that buyers choose best-of-breed solutions, then ease of use and integration become important when there are multiple products in a user’s APM toolbox.
APM: Are there particular topics of APM – ie cloud, virtualization, big data, mobile – that seem to be important to reviewers on IT Central Station?
RR: Within our APM reviews we’re seeing people write more and more about cloud issues – APM deployed as a SaaS model, and using APM tools to monitor performance of apps in the cloud.
APM: From working on IT Central Station, have you discovered anything new or interesting about the APM market that you did not realize back when you were a VP?
We’re certainly seeing a lot of innovation going on within the APM market. Many of the smaller, dynamic APM vendors are getting great reviews – companies such as Catchpoint, INETCO, AppNeta, and Nastel – although it’s less of a surprise that some of the large established players such as Compuware, HP, Oracle, Riverbed and CA are also getting overall positive reviews with an average rating of 4-stars or higher.
APM: Do you have any advice for APM buyers or users?
RR: For APM buyers, I recommend that after you’ve done your research on IT Central Station, take advantage of our new feature to ask “off the record” questions from other real users – it’s private and discreet so you can get an inside scoop from real APM users about their experiences with a product. Go to the IT Central Station APM category page, or visit any product page, and click on “ask an off-the-record question”. You can also follow products to get instant updates when there are new reviews about the products that interest you.
ABOUT Russell Rothstein
Russell Rothstein, Station Master and CEO of IT Central Station, has spent his 20+ year career in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads between technology and business. He has spoken at industry events including Interop, CloudConnect, CMG, Red Herring, and TeleManagement World.
Before founding IT Central Station, Rothstein worked in senior product marketing and product management roles at enterprise tech vendors OpTier and OPNET (acquired by Riverbed). Rothstein was co-founder and CEO of Zettapoint, a software company that was acquired by EMC, and was co-founder of Open Sesame, a Web 1.0 startup that was acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley. Rothstein began his career at Oracle, deploying Oracle Applications for Fortune 1000 companies. He received a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and an MS in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Russell Rothstein can be reached by email and Twitter @RussRothsteinIT
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