Why Gartner Should Add a Magic Quadrant for Observability
There is a lot to love about Gartner's Magic Quadrant reports, which provide cutting-edge insight into emerging trends, shifts, and patterns within specific domains of the IT industry. The Magic Quadrant publications are one of the very best sources for understanding the state of various niches and the leading vendors within them.
Yet, one thing is sorely missing from the current lineup of Magic Quadrant reports- observability. So far, Gartner has yet to create a Magic Quadrant for observability.
Here's why that's a shame and what Gartner and the IT ecosystem stand to gain from a Magic Quadrant for observability.
APM vs. Observability: That Is the Question (for Gartner)
If you're familiar with Gartner's Magic Quadrants, you may be thinking: "Gartner already has a Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring (APM). Why does it need one for observability, too? Isn't observability the same thing as APM?"
The answer is a resounding no. Observability and APM are distinct disciplines. Application Performance Monitoring focuses on precisely that – monitoring the performance of applications.
Observability is much more holistic because it focuses on understanding the state of your environment as a whole. It does that based partly on monitoring data gleaned from applications. But it also looks at logs, traces, and any number of other data sources from infrastructure, cloud services, CI/CD pipelines, etc.
Thus, by focusing only on APM, Gartner is currently offering little insight into the state of the broader monitoring and observability ecosystem.
Aren't the Vendors the Same?
You may be thinking: "OK, so observability and APM are not the same. But the vendors are. Everyone who sells APM is also selling observability. So why create a separate Magic Quadrant for observability vendors?"
Most (but not all) APM vendors are also in the observability market. However, there are huge differences between APM products and features and observability products and features.
To put this another way, vendors that excel at APM – and therefore are well-positioned in the Magic Quadrant for APM – may not be ideal observability providers. For example, a company might offer a tool that is great at collecting metrics from an application. But that same tool may be unable to collect Kubernetes audit logs or run distributed traces across a microservices app.
Indeed, Gartner is a great opportunity to help clarify the differences between APM companies that claim to offer observability and vendors who specialize in it. You don't get this insight if you attempt to extrapolate based on the APM Magic Quadrant to understand the observability domain. You need a report that focuses on the unique requirements of observability alone.
Gartner Expertise vs. Third-Party Comparisons
There are many sources for people who want insights into how different observability tools compare. Unfortunately, most of them don't come from objective experts with the qualifications of Gartner analysts.
Sites like G2, for example, offer comparisons of observability products. But they are mainly sourced from users on the Internet, many of whom may have subjective views because they feel strongly about – or are even employed by – a particular vendor. These reports lack the rigor and reliability of a Gartner Magic Quadrant analysis.
In this respect, Gartner has a great opportunity to draw traffic away from competing for product comparison websites by developing a Magic Quadrant for observability. Doing so would provide buyers with more informed insights than they can currently glean and help drive traffic to Gartner.
In short, there is much to be gained by adding Gartner's expert voice to the conversation surrounding observability tools and platforms. The APM Magic Quadrant is too different to serve as a stand-in for observability. Gartner should develop insights that center on observability alone.