Gartner posted their annual review this past week. With the addition of two new long-time ECM/CSP analysts, we were hoping that this year’s analysis would be more on point than past years, but found it rather predictable. This post will discuss our thoughts on the 2019 analysis with a focus on CSP Vision.
Gartner Content Services Platform – Previous Posts
Back in 2015, we posted the question of whether the magic quadrant was really magic anymore? Over the past few years, Gartner has evolved the rating with a complete change of the evaluation approach in 2016. In 2017, IBM/FileNet was dropped from the leader quadrant only to add IBM back to the leader quadrant in 2018. In 2018, we called out Gartner on what was missing in the analysis, specifically the cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), something we first mentioned back in 2016.
Gartner Content Services Platform Magic Quadrant– Ignore the graphic, focus on the narrative
Clients typically struggle with leveraging the quadrant as a magic bullet to pick a vendor or choose to stay with a vendor. The Magic Quadrant made the most sense back in the 1990’s when vendors were first choosing ECM in “green field” image or document management use cases. Being closest to the upper right corner would seem to be the easy way to pick the strongest vendor but now, with the market mature, it isn’t that simple. In placing vendors in the quadrants, Gartner chooses two evaluation points, ability to execute on the horizontal and completeness of vision on the vertical.
Too often, ability to execute is simply based on market share and, not surprisingly, the four leaders highest in the ability to execute are all the biggest vendors, Microsoft, OpenText, Hyland and IBM. The challenge for Gartner is to evaluate ability to execute on anything but current market share. Ability to execute didn’t work out so well for Oracle this year as, in 2018, they were rated third in ability to execute but this year they were dropped altogether from the review. TSG would argue that bigger vendors are often distracted by other areas or investments or treat their dominate install base in CSP as a cash cow. For example, IBM is clearly distracted by Watson to the point of losing the bulk of their people and resources to support CSP.
Completeness of Vision and also show some bias for bigger vendors as the “completeness” runs to a suite of products, something we have posted in the past isn’t always that sweet for customers. While Gartner has various evaluation points on Market Understanding as well as strategies as it relates to Marketing, Sales, Product, Industry and other interpreted points, too often Gartner will glean “completeness of vision” from the vendors themselves and weight the quadrant based on that bias. Some examples from previous reports.
- IBM – In 2016 was the overall leader in both categories given market share, the “vision” of Watson and a relationship with Box. In 2017, IBM was moved out of the leader quadrant with no mention of Watson or Box. In 2018 and 2019, IBM is back in the leader quadrant without any real justification in regarding vision.
- In 2018, Gartner had OpenText, M-files and Nuxeo as leaders in the category that we disagreed with given a focus on hybrid cloud for OpenText and MFiles and Federated Search for Nuxeo, visions that we would argue are more marketing than reality for the majority of customers. Both categories on Federation and Hybrid Cloud are barely mentioned in this years report. See our related post on ECM Sales Myths.
The challenge for Gartner lies in developing their own vision of where the industry should/will go and evaluating a vendor’s product roadmap against that vision. Another issue is separating the marketing speak for actual execution. For example, if the vision is to leverage existing Amazon skills and running content services in the Amazon cloud (Gartner’s leader in the IAAS space), none of the CSP magic quadrant leaders fit that vision due to distractions in regards to their own cloud services (IBM – IBM Cloud, OpenText – OpenText Cloud and Google, Hyland – Hyland Cloud, Microsoft – Azure).
Technology Services Group – Thoughts on CSP/ECM Vision
In talking internally about the review and specific points that we agreed/disagreed on, our team thought a fresh take on vision might be a more interesting post for our readers. As a software AND services firm, TSG often has a unique position in that we get to see where our clients want our products to go by working with the client as we recently did adding CCM SmartComm integration.
For something new this year, given our view on a future state CSP vision, we will leverage the Gartner notes to comment on selected vendors. Below is our list of what we would view as a future vision for CSP as it is what is driving our own products.
- IaaS Cloud Vendors – It is very difficult to argue that the major cloud vendors (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) are not having a huge impact on client’s internal infrastructure. Clients will want to leverage these skills and purchasing agreements to move or build new CSP systems in the cloud. Ability of vendors to support a chosen vendor’s cloud infrastructure partner natively should be in any vendor’s vision but also roadmap (with products by now). For those thinking “but I want SaaS” – see our post from 2017 on IaaS versus SaaS as ECM/CSP disruptor. TSG products support cloud services including AWS DynamoDB, Azure HDInsights and Google BigTable .
- Smarter Object Stores – We posted on this last year but clearly see cloud or on Premise object stores as disruptors for CSP. No longer will the CSP/ECM repository own the content, we would predict that the object store will own it with links to one or multiple CSP repositories depending on use case. CSP vendors with a future-focused vision will look to support any and multiple object stores, rather than just proprietary ones (as EMC/Documentum did with the EMC products back in the day). More and more we see S3 as the common protocol for communicating with Object Stores. TSG products allow for both content that exists already in an object store to be quickly linked to a repository or ingested. This methodology results in significantly faster linking versus than traditional content ingestion were the content file itself needs to be processed through the vendor’s API. As an example see our 11 Billion DynamoDB benchmark where we were linking 10,000 documents per second per OpenMigrate instance with two servers for 20,000 documents per second.
- NoSQL Future – In predicting where the future state of CSP will go, it is hard not to predict that Big Data solutions will replace traditional relational databases behind the majority of the CSP vendors. We started proposing big data would disrupt ECM in 2015 and began building our Hbase/Hadoop offering for ECM/CSP. Visionary vendors will embrace NoSQL to not only offer increased performance for their clients but also to reduce the cost of the CSP stack. TSG NoSQL products support cloud services including AWS DynamoDB, Azure HDInsights and Google BigTable as well as on premise with HBase/Hadoop.
- Low Code Configuration versus Development Environments – More and more clients want solutions and configuration rather than development environments (and support of CSP vendors code solutions). Clients developed plenty of solutions on proprietary platforms that have become difficult to support as the developers moved on to new companies or roles. To see an example of a no-code configuration example for our products, see our post on building a Case Management Interface in under 20 minutes.
- Machine Learning and AI – Future state CSP will leverage machine learning to increase productivity. We have started to look at Capture 2.0 focus on how machine learning can improve the capture process. Visionary clients will start to embrace ML and AI throughout the CSP stack.
- Stars Versus Cash Cows – Visionaries see opportunities where CSP can produce growth through disruption of current vendors or Star from the BCG matrix. (ex: Cloud based CSP). On the other hand, Cash Cows seek to milk their current revenue stream in a slow growing industry. TSG’s pursuit of NoSQL and Capture 2.0 are two of our examples of looking for growth, disruption and innovation over status quo.
TSG Thoughts on the Major Vendors and alignment with the TSG vision
TSG typically recommend clients ignore the graphic and drill down into the specific narrative about the vendors as it can give some insight as well as the companion piece Critical Capabilities for Content Services Platforms. Typically the narrative will have one strength gleaned from discussion with vendor that might not be truly embraced by users. From the narrative on the given vendors some interesting tidbits and our thoughts on vision included:
- OpenText – While Gartner correctly lists strengths in regards to SAP connectivity, we would disagree in regards to strength of ecosystem and cloud. Cautions about overlapping products/suite and negotiating with OpenText are legitimate concerns.
- IBM – Last year, Gartner lists strength for IBM as the new Automated Platform for Digital Business (that includes FileNet) as a platform for enhancing business processes, a strategy that TSG called out as highly unlikely to actually occur. Whether the Watson push of 2016, or last years Automated Platform for Digital Business, it is going to take some time and TSG would view it as highly unlikely that IBM is really doing something new given our discussions with FileNet customers about wanting to leave the IBM product set.
- Hyland – We don’t see Hyland much in TSG’s space. Having worked with Brainware, we would agree that it has potential but can seem dated and isn’t quite Machine Learning. We did notice Gartner last year mentioned that Hyland is modernizing their architecture with REST-based APIs, something that the rest of the industry has had for quite some time. We are in agreement that the continued lack of REST-based APIs called out as a caution in this year’s review.
- Alfresco – Key strengths include partner ecosystem (noted biased here – TSG is an Alfresco partner) and alignment with Amazon Web Services. PaaS offering coming in September on AWS could be a differentiator.
- Microsoft and Box – We did not evaluate Microsoft or Box as we typically just see them in the collaboration and file share space.
In regards to alignment to our future vision for CSP:
- IaaS Cloud Vendor Support – As called out by Gartner, Alfresco leads here on AWS with native and a marketplace instance but needs to develop a story for Google and Azure. OpenText has been hit or miss with their own cloud as well as announcement with Google. (See Alan Pelz Sharpe excellent article). We would anticipate that both offerings would distract from market leaders in AWS and Azure. IBM has been majorly distracted by their own cloud which we would anticipate would hamper efforts to work with any other cloud vendors. Hyland, like OpenText, has their own private cloud which would also limit support for AWS or others. Microsoft obviously has Azure but will never support other cloud vendors.
- Smarter Object Stores – Most vendors have specific ingestion support with ties to certain object stores and cursory support for S3. Alfresco has ability to link but the object store must be mapped to Alfresco.
- NoSQL Future – Nuxeo with Mongo only vendor with known support. Analysis would need more detail on the implementation of Mongo to determine if truly NoSQL or just SQL on Mongo.
- Low Code Configuration versus Development Environments – Most vendors offer a combination of both as they want to appeal to developers and end users.
- Machine Learning and AI – All vendors seem to be claiming progress but few are there yet. Practical evaluation will look to prove out with their data-set to see actual benefits rather than believe the “Watson” like hype.
- Stars Versus Cash Cows – Examples of a Star from Gartner this year is new entrant AODocs as a Star with SaaS on Google. Most of the older vendors definitely fall into the cash cow as growth has slowed yet prices and maintenance contracts remain high.
As mentioned, while we were disappointed the review came out similar to last year, we do appreciate the detailed analysis of the Gartner analysts and recommend clients look below the pictures to understand more about the different vendors. We would recommend clients develop their own vision of where they want their CSP vendor to go and review all solutions with that vision in mind.
Let us know your thoughts below and be sure to check out our 11 Billion Document migration and cloud price calculators.