Gartner just moved the goalposts and here’s what you need to know

After 5 successful years of being in the Gartner magic quadrant for data management solutions for analytics (formerly data warehouse RDBMS), moving gradually up and to the right and within reaching distance of the leader quadrant, Gartner has moved the goalposts and excluded EXASOL. Prior to this suprising development, EXASOL had further improved its technology, it still leads the TPC-H benchmark by a mile, it increased its revenues and extended its customer base. So the only question being asked by EXASOL management was where would EXASOL land in the quadrant this year? Alas, EXASOL is not featured at all. Why? Gartner has imposed new criteria for inclusion – either $40m of revenue or 50% YOY growth should annual revenues fall between $10m-$40m. Is this realistic for many vendors without venture capital funding to prop up their numbers? Is this a growth rate that can be expected year over year in what is fundamentally an infrastructure play? Is this even important for potential buyers? In short, the answer to these questions is a resounding “No.” And yet, the vendors who are innovating, moving the needle on the future of the industry and disrupting the big players will continue to find it difficult to be included in the magic quadrant.

Moving forward, smaller database vendors – with technology built from the ground up to do the very thing the magic quadrant pushes, i.e. being innovative, challenging the status quo – are excluded from the main section of the report, in particular the graphic which is the one piece of the report that everyone looks at. What are left are the large, non-challenging multinational vendors with their everyday products and same-old, same-old pitches, which anyone can read on billboards in airports around the world. All you will see now are those familiar global vendors that Gartner considers worth spending the time on, even if you knew them anyway.

Where is the the value?

More than that, where is the objectivity and the picture of the true marketplace, which after all, dear reader, is what you are paying for when you buy a Gartner report? Surely it is the job of a leading analyst firm to showcase all market options rather than just a select few? Gripes with Gartner are common (nothing new there) but this takes it to a new level – simple, subjective and and at some level comfortable by knowing you cannot go wrong by including IBM. But then why would you turn to the quadrant as your source of information for the marketplace and use it to make decisions on critical technology purchases?

Gartner is the establishment

The analyst firm always claims its magic quadrant reports are opinions that help organizations to look ahead; it speaks about companies living in the age of infinite possibilities. Well yes, if those companies are already part of the recognized establishment. Gartner is of course about big business, part of the establishment itself and not in it to provide a leg-up to upcoming and disruptive vendors with leaner marketing budgets. This seems to be true even if the lesser-known vendor might offer superior products than the ones the big established players have on their websites. How is this helpful for a dynamic and innovative market? Does it give readers the full picture? We don’t think so.

Bottom line: what you need to ask yourself

How is it that a serious and constantly improving challenger such as EXASOL can just disappear off the magic quadrant without so much as a ripple? Did we do something wrong? With significant revenue growth rates of 35-40% YOY for the past 5 years and with superior technology (ask our customers who have replaced their established legacy systems with EXASOL), EXASOL is shunted off the graphic and just appears as an after-thought. Where did those inclusion criteria suddenly come from and what do they really mean?

Frankly, we think they have only one effect and that is to keep us out. You decide.

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