Thursday, November 01, 2007


So, why aren't industry analysts providing deeper coverage of open source?

Figured, I would provide one perspective and hope that others may chime in...

The way the Quadrant and Wave processes works is that the analyst firms create huge spreadsheets full of evaluation criteria that they force vendors to complete, and then they do a series of interviews with the vendor and their customers, and then write up the report. The vendors normally have whole teams of people working full time on these for many weeks gathering information, answering follow-up questions, recruiting customer references, etc. It's a huge project.

In the case of open source projects, there's often no vendor for the analysts to lean on to do all the data gathering and analysis work. If it happens to be a commercial open source offering, then there is a vendor and they may be able to do it. But if it's not a commercial open source product, the analysts have to do the work themselves, which they are often not equipped to handle and/or prefer to take the path of least resistance in which some aspects of research simply go ignored.

Additionally, vendors pay large amounts of money to the analyst firms in the form of subscription fees, event sponsorships, consulting days, and speaking fees when they invite analysts to speak at their events. This can easily exceed $1M annually.

Spending a lot of money with the analyst firms makes sure you are on their radar. It's not outright bribery, but there is a correlation between budget and mind share. Since open source projects never pay anything, and since commercial open source companies often have tight budgets, they don't get on the radar as forcefully as a big vendor client.

The real question is whether industry analyst themselves feel this is a problem or simply reality. From an enterprise perspective, we would like to think that they are providing us with all the options and not just a limited set. If enterprise architects start getting smarter about this particular problem, analysts could lose an important source of revenue...

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