We have been publishing our coverage graphs all year. The gathering of data to make those graphs is intensive for each phase of research. We are still finding ways to use the graphs. The basis for the research is to find a vendor-neutral way to compare each vendor, using terminology that is easy to understand. With this, our coverage graphs offer a window into the vendor. This window provides a view into a wide swath of the industry. Initially, we were trying to answer the question “Do these vendors compete based on a specific set of criteria?” We have bundled many criteria into categories or groupings of criteria. Now, we are asking the data and the graphs many more questions. Here are a few ways to use our coverage graphs.
In our graph 1, below, we are looking at three vendors in the IT as a Service space. One of these looks like a clear winner, but is it? Zenoss obviously appears to cover a larger amount of the desired state—and yes, it does. However, ultimately, as a buyer, you need to understand how the tool is being used. Sellers also need to understand how the tool is being used. As a buyer, you may have specific requirements. For example, if I were in a security-conscious organization or one that needed deeper analytics and more metrics, I might start to look at the other tools mentioned.
Now, as a vendor, I can look at this graph two ways:
- How to sell to potential customers interested in specific categories, answering the question “Do we cover that?”
- As a product manager to answer the question “What do we need to do to surpass our competitors?”
Both of these questions are about specific capabilities, or what we list as the primary categories of a given coverage graph. The details that make up the coverage graph are represented by each line of the web in the graph. In the graph above, the categories with the largest number of requirements are within the Analytics, Security Functions, and Infrastructure areas, while the fewest are around integrations. All of these categories create the entire picture of a product’s coverage of our requirements.
We also track over time the change in a vendor’s products and in our desired state (see Graph 2). Requirements are ever-changing, so our coverage graphs keep up. For some coverage graphs, we are in our third phase; we have tracking through all stages for those who have been our partners the longest. Further, we continue to add many more vendors to our graphs, targeting the new and innovative over the staid and older solutions.
We come up with our requirements by looking at a set of products and determining the first fifty or so requirements from that initial set of products. However, that soon changes. We do not release a coverage graph and its data until we have a valid set of requirements. Sometimes that may be our initial set, but often as we talk to vendors, consumers, colleagues, and other analysts, the list grows. This is one reason why we track our own desired state across time. The desired state will change. We have even added new categories to our coverage graphs as they have become necessary. Usually we do this by splitting an existing category.
Since we constantly talk to people and show off our graphs, categories, and requirements, we get constant feedback, which we then incorporate into the next phase of the research. The research as presented has definite benefits for vendors and channel partners, but also consumers. Our graphs need to be able to answer the following set of questions (in addition to the above):
- Are the vendors competitors or partners in their chosen arena, such as IT as a Service, Software-Defined Storage, Data Protection, and others?
- Do the vendors cover what is important to an organization?
- Does the vendor continue to grow in the direction an organization wishes to take, or is it static?
- We can also tell by the pattern of the coverage the type of vendor they are in the topic. E.g., data protection specializing in replication looks very different than one concentrating on DRaaS. (See Graph 3)
- Does the hype match up to the coverage of the vendor?
While we are agnostic, the data has so many uses. For vendors, we answer the question of how to compete. For channel partners, we answer the questions of how to sell and what the benefits are, and for consumers, we answer the question “Does this fit my organization?”
How would you like to use our coverage graphs?