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Unsolicited Opinions About the Latest Forrester Wave on AIOps, Part 1

Leading industry analyst firm Forrester just published The Forrester Wave™: Artificial Intelligence For IT Operations, Q4 2022. If you're not familiar with Forrester Waves, they're similar to Gartner Magic Quadrants. However, one advantage of a Wave versus a Magic Quadrant is the Wave provides clients a way to customize the evaluation to suit their use cases.

This Wave is a 35-criterion evaluation of AIOps providers, where they identified the 11 most significant ones (in alphabetical order) — Datadog, Digitate, Dynatrace, Elastic, LogicMonitor, Micro Focus, New Relic, OpsRamp, ScienceLogic, Splunk and Zenoss — and researched, analyzed and scored them. The report shows how each provider measures up and helps technology professionals select the right one for their needs.

Over the next few weeks, I'll dive into Forrester's findings and share more about the evolution of their research. At first glance, what are the key takeaways from this Wave? Here are some thoughts — my observations and opinions, not Forrester's.

  • Generation 2 AIOps platforms appear to have turned a corner. The Wave divided AIOps vendors into two categories: process-centric and technology-centric. This boils down to Generation 1 AIOps (process-centric) and Generation 2 AIOps (technology-centric). I previously posted a blog explaining the difference between the two, very cleverly titled "The Difference Between Generation 1 and Generation 2 AIOps Platforms." Therefore, I won't belabor the distinct difference between the two types of AIOps solutions.

    The interesting thing is that this Forrester Wave includes only Generation 2 AIOps solutions. There may be future research published on the Generation 1 AIOps solutions, but they were not included in this Wave. You can infer from their exclusion what you will, but I assert that, at a minimum, when we talk about AIOps, we should be clear what we are talking about. (Rather, about which we are talking.)

  • Don't judge a book by its cover. That is, don't judge a significant amount of research by the picture required for our lazy minds to absorb it. This Wave, like the previous one, includes vendors from different areas of the ITOM spectrum. Some came from the APM space, some came from the observability space, and some, like Zenoss, came from the infrastructure monitoring space.

    Customers should always consider their specific use cases in their buying decisions, but this is especially true with a juxtaposition of vendors like this. The two leaders in this Wave are from the APM space. If your use cases are application-heavy, then you should consider those vendors. Conversely, if you need visibility into your entire IT infrastructure (you do), application monitoring is merely scratching the surface.

    Somewhere around 2015, every APM vendor began to claim they did infrastructure monitoring. This really meant agents for server monitoring and some APIs for monitoring things like virtual servers. We all learned shortly after that understanding every bit of minutiae about applications and servers does not provide insight to all infrastructure supporting that application.

    The advice here is to use the power of the Wave research to customize weightings (They provide great tools for this.) to suit your specific use cases, and don’t ignore that there’s more to application performance than the application itself. Understand the entire IT service, not just the application.

  • Rumors of the demise of the "Big 4" have not been greatly exaggerated. Just as there is a Big 4 in management consulting firms, something similar exists in IT operations management. In the world of IT operations management, the term Big 4 has long been used in reference to IBM, BMC, CA (acquired by Broadcom) and HPE (software business acquired by MicroFocus). This Big 4 enjoyed more than a decade of incumbency in most medium to large organizations, after which they began to face more modern competitive solutions along with growing customer disillusionment. These firms have enjoyed incumbent status by profiting from collecting revenue streams while neglecting to innovate.

    Cut to today and this Forrester Wave, and only one of those companies was recognized — and it wasn’t the greatest showing. If you simply judge by distance from the top right (the highest-ranking position on the Wave graphic), they were 10th out of the 11 vendors included. (As stated in the previous bullet, anyone leveraging this Wave should consider their own specific use cases, and the graphic is not the end-all be-all.) Given that AIOps is the evolution of traditional IT monitoring, it seems it is clear for whom the bell tolls.

Again, these are my own observations and thoughts. I am not putting words in the mouth of the analyst(s). I want to commend the analyst leading this research, Carlos Casanova. It is extremely difficult to do this amount of work and try to distill it into something the people will actually read. I recommend that anyone who will use this research to inform buying decisions should actually reach out to Forrester and have a conversation about it. Industry analysts who publish research like this almost always have more insights to share when you call and ask about your specific situation.

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