Vendor selection using Gartner magic quadrant

A lawsuit filed Tuesday (ed. 5 Aug 2014) in Connecticut Superior Court accuses tech analyst firm Gartner Research of demanding kickbacks in exchange for favorable placement in the company’s famous Magic Quadrant report.
NetScout, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of network performance management products, says in court documents that companies that pay for Gartner’s consulting services are ranked above those that do not, and that this is the reason for NetScout’s inclusion in the “challengers” category of the most recent NPM Magic Quadrant, instead of among the “leaders.”

Jon Gold
in an article on NetworkWorld.

I’ll be completely up front in saying that I have no bias towards the position of NetScout or Gartner in this filing. I will be merely just an interested onlooker, especially in relation to how the outcome might effect vendor selection in the OSS industry.

There are a lot of different vendors and products that make up the global OSS ecosystem. Choosing the right one for your particular needs is always a challenge because there are so many variables at play – functionality, cost, road-map (the customer’s and the vendor’s), relationships / partnerships, integrations, services, etc.

Gartner’s magic quadrant is often used by organisations as a basis for reaching a short-list from the hundreds (thousands?) of available products. In fact, I’ve recently heard of executives from at least two tier-one telcos issuing directives that their short-list should consist of the top right corner of Gartner’s OSS Magic Quadrant.

To each their own. I wouldn’t recommend this approach purely because the Gartner analysis can’t possibly evaluate best-fit for any given customer. When assisting customers with vendor selection, I tend to start by collaborating with the customer to determine their biggest requirements and then asking the OSS market to respond with how they match up against those requirements.*

There will usually be a handful of vendors that stand out and you will quickly find a short-list that should be better matched to your specific needs.

Gartner’s magic quadrant is a helpful analysis, but would you delegate responsibility to it for matching vendors to your organisation’s needs?

How do you go about deciding on the right products for you??

* I acknowledge that vendor self-reporting could be gamed, but later stages in the vendor selection process (eg proof-of concept and trials) should identify any major mis-representations in the short-listing stage.

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