April saw the release of Gartner’s 2nd Magic Quadrant for SAM tools. Magic Quadrants aim to highlight solutions to a particular requirement by ranking them on two dimensions – completeness of vision and ability to deliver. As ITAM grows in maturity and seniority, Gartner’s research helps us on that journey – but as with 2018’s report, the findings need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Before we get into why, let’s take a look at the findings, and the differences from the inaugural report.
Flexera overtake Snow
The most notable shift is that Flexera have shifted up in the quadrant, effectively swapping places with Snow. This isn’t surprising – Flexera had a busy year last year with the acquisitions of MetaSaaS for SaaS Management (now Flexera SaaS Manager) and Rightscale for IaaS Management. Rightscale was a stellar acquisition, giving Flexera status as an ITAM platform provider, such is the breadth of their product offering. I find it odd that Gartner feel they’ve shifted back in terms of completeness of vision to last year, given all that acquisition activity. Possibly they’re not including the Rightscale acquisition because they include that product in their Cloud Management technologies MQ. Regardless, to my mind, Flexera have the broadest solution coverage of any ITAM tools provider.
Conversely, Snow had a quiet 2018 and, in my view, failed to leverage the opportunity provided by their position in the 2018 quadrant. Gartner note this too – it was a year of boardroom and senior staff changes and this impacted perception of their ability to deliver. The silence was deafening, and it is notable that they aren’t running their popular “SnowStorm” user group conferences this year. Gartner also note grumblings from existing customers regarding support and agility. As a former Snow end-user, I would agree – technical issues in Snow License Manager 8, and issues with the multi-tenant architecture used by many partners, diverted resources and hobbled their ability to deliver innovation. There are signs this is changing, not least with their latest release – more coverage on that soon.
Eracent & 1E added
The addition of Eracent & 1E supports the trend of the best SAM tools being part of a Unified IT approach. Rather than delivering SAM in isolation tools like these reflect the need for integration with Service Management and Service Request tools. This also matches Ivanti’s messaging and approach. These three companies provide functionality to manage other aspects of IT – for example endpoint management and user/device provisioning. They also have self-service App Store portals which aim to put control of the software request process in the hands of users, improving service, reducing delivery times, and reducing IT overheads.
The rest of the quadrant remains broadly unchanged. Is this because enterprise-scale SAM tools are relatively mature? Perhaps so. We see innovation happening, but it tends to be new entrants or smaller players who won’t clear the market share and global presence hurdles necessary for inclusion in an MQ. Gartner require sales of $5m per annum and customers in two of North America, Latin America, Asia/Pacific, EMEA, and Japan, with at least one territory being North America or EMEA. This limits inclusion to large, global, players in enterprise-scale markets. Only Symantec have exited the quadrant – unsurprising as the reaction from many to their inclusion last year was “Do they even do ITAM?”
The ServiceNow Effect
ServiceNow are another new entrant this year, buoyed by the ITAM functionality in their London release in Autumn 2018. This brought award-winning features highlighting the power of embedding ITAM in a wider IT Management platform. Vendors such as Ivanti, Matrix42, BMC, and Axios Systems are also working towards this broad approach and as highlighted above so are Flexera, Eracent, and 1E.
ServiceNow’s incumbent status in many organisations means their solution is an easy sell to existing customers looking to add ITAM capabilities, and Gartner acknowledge this as a strength. I disagree – just because a solution is easy to acquire and integrates with your existing platform isn’t a reason to buy it. Does it deliver what you need? If not, are those requirements on the roadmap?
Smaller vendors are often more responsive to customer requirements – as highlighted at our Australian conference last year by Anne Cameron from Monash University who shared her very positive experience of working with Certero. I’ve subsequently heard of similar positive experiences from other Certero customers. Similarly, Aspera built their award-winning Salesforce optimisation product in response to specific requirements from one of their larger customers.
Prior to having their own ITAM product, ServiceNow were willing to work with other vendors and so have excellent integration support (they also continue to be happy to provide this support to potential competitors). Flexera, License Dashboard, Snow, and others all have connectors available for ServiceNow. As ITAM managers, it’s vital we have the tools to match our use case and whilst ServiceNow’s offering is broadening and growing rapidly, Gartner acknowledge that it is still limited in comparison to other products.
Vendors not included
As touched upon above, Gartner’s playing field is not a level one. A very strong, award-winning, and innovative solution may not be eligible for inclusion because it lacks a global reach or the necessary sales volume. To Gartner’s credit they do provide a long-list of some of these vendors such as Matrix42 & License Dashboard but there are still some notable absences. Certero for example have a broad suite of solutions comparable to those included, and there are newer entrants such as Xensam & ITSM tools provider Axios Systems that could be challenging for inclusion next year.
Gartner’s approach with Magic Quadrants tends to be somewhat misunderstood. For example, for Gartner subscribers, MQs are meant to be interactive tools, not a static diagram in a press release. Gartner subscribers can tune the output to meet their use case and requirements. Furthemore, for SAM tools my view is that Gartner’s assessment criteria are narrow and rooted in traditional SAM. Managing big vendors by discovering where their software is installed, whether it’s in use, and reconciling this against entitlement will score big points based on Gartner’s criteria. SAM is much, much more than that these days. It’s notable that there is just a single mention of a pure-play SaaS Tools provider (Zylo) in this report.
If SAM is about software, then a critical capability is surely being able to manage all software – including that delivered as a service.
Remember, SaaS has locally installed components and those components will be licensed differently to their perpetually-licensed versions. I hope to see Gartner adjust their criteria next year to account for this rapid evolution in user requirements.
I’d also like the criteria to reflect the growing maturity of ITAM teams. For example, by assessing tools on their ability to aid forecasting and better calculate the value derived from software investments is as important as managing license compliance. For a visionary company, focusing on the value approach should be more important than having tools designed to manage license audits – based on the thinking that audit activity will drop as digital transformation moves companies towards subscription software and hardware.
Gartner MQs are often seen as an indicator of the maturity of a particular capability. As such, this MQ provides a welcome spotlight on our industry. Use it as guide but don’t assume that just because a product is included, or is in the top right sector, that it’s going to meet your needs.
For a complimentary copy of the Magic Quadrant report please follow the links below:
Additionally, Flexera provide Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for SAM Tools 2019 – https://info.flexerasoftware.com/SLO-REPORT-Gartner-Critical-Capabilities-SAM-Tools
(all above links require registration to download the report)