The market is starting to take notice. In its most recent Magic Quadrant and corresponding Critical Capabilities report for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics, Gartner placed a high emphasis on operational analytics functionality capable of elevating network data beyond the realm of the network and even IT. At the same time, the analyst firm also noted stagnating innovation in the space, the result of legacy frameworks built for speeds and architectures that were already being phased out more than a decade ago. Put simply, these legacy architectures are ill-equipped to address the new realities that modern IT delivers.
Buyer beware the lipstick on the pig
While legacy architectures are stymying technological innovation, marketing innovation abounds. The monitoring and analytics markets have long been fraught with misleading statements, and vendors in these sectors are growing more and more adept at applying the latest buzzwords to antiquated technologies in the hopes of extending their lifespans by a few short years.
Compounding this problem is the lack of transparency in these markets. Apples-to-apples comparisons of competitive offerings are nearly impossible because so few vendors publish their performance numbers. Even when they do, definitions are often fluid, confusing, or outright misleading, making it a massive challenge to put those numbers in context.
As enterprise customers increasingly look for next-generation solutions, it will be critical for them to understand the nuances of vendor terminology and architecture in order to separate and effectively assess what is actual functionality versus what is marketing gloss.
A call for radical transparency
IT buyers deserve to be able to make a fair, real, honest comparison of vendor offerings, which is nearly impossible in the current climate where performance numbers are obscured and terms are loosely defined.
It is time for every vendor in the network performance monitoring sector—and frankly, every vendor in the IT operations management sector—to put our money where our mouth is. Customers deserve the opportunity to make an apples-to-apples comparison of claims around performance, scale, and deployment.
Every IT person should be able to get a real answer to these and many other questions:
- How are services discovered and classified? Is it automatic, or does it rely on manual tagging and configuration?
- Can the solution be deployed in hybrid and cloud environments?
- Can it scale to 40Gbps or have a path forward to 100Gbps?
- Does it decrypt SSL traffic at line rate?
- Does it provide visibility into Internet of Things devices?
- Is there a way for users to easily program the analysis or extend functionality?
- Does the product store packets before analysis?
- What are the storage requirements associated with data captured by the product?
Information technology is a different world than it was 10 years ago, and the demands a typical organization experiences are increasing. Over the next 18 to 24 months, the massive shift IT is undergoing will start to meaningfully separate the wheat from the chaff in the NPM market, if for no other reason than because the solutions that cannot evolve will start to fail in deployment. It’s only a matter of time now before the lipstick wears off the pig.
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