Talend vs Gartner

n amazing thing happened recently: a vendor directly confronting Gartner Group, which ultimately resulted in a lively and very open discussion between Gartner Groups Andreas Bitterer and Talends Yves de Montcheuil with contributions of independent analyst Mark Madsen, Sagecircle analyst and previous Gartner VP (!) Carter Lusher, Business Objects’ Timo Elliott and Microsofts Donald Farmer. It’s very rare to be able to witness an open discussion between competing vendors, independent analysts and the almighty Gartner Group


Setting the Record Straight

by Andy Bitterer

Not often, a vendor reacts with a blog posting to the publication of a Gartner document. Press releases, yes, and a lot, kinda like “Company XYZ announces that a leading analyst firm has placed it in the leaders quadrant of the ABC Magic Quadrant…” Rarely, though, do we see a posting directly referring to a magic quadrant, particularly from a vendor that wasn’t included. (Draw your own conclusions.)

Yves de Montcheuil, VP of marketing at Talend, did just that on his blog, where he commented on the latest data integration magic quadrant. I never met Yves, only talked to him on the phone a few times, and I have likewise a lot of respect for him, just like he wrote he has for the Gartner analysts who authored the Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools. In his post, Yves makes a few statements that call for a response, as they indicate a distorted perspective on the authors’ view and some other comments are just plain wrong.

No surprise, Gartner’s analyses are still very conservative

If this means that we are not jumping on every new idea and announce it as the silver bullet, then yes, we are conservative. It does not mean, though, that we are turning a blind eye on new developments. Quite the contrary, in fact, as demonstrated by the large number of tiny and often virtually unknown vendors that are featured as a “Cool Vendor”.

Their analysts use mostly their rearview mirror, to look at what happened behind them, whereas they should have a radar to see what’s happening around them and ahead of them.

This is rather meaningless to me, because it’s rather irrelevant what was “happening behind me“, or is “happening ahead of me“. Of course, we are evaluating each vendor’s past, present, and potential future. As an author of any magic quadrant, what the analyst is looking at, and that is clearly communicated to every vendor that is potentially included, are not only things such as product capablities,  but also revenues, sales, marketing, support, alliances, or their financial position. I’m sure, even Yves would agree that those criteria are more backwards looking, as they describe a track record, which, by definition, is always looking at the past. A “future track record” does not exist, with radar or without. And “future revenues” are fairy tales.

… the Magic Quadrant reflects past adoption of certain technologies by large accounts in the US, who are customers of Gartner.

Wrong on all accounts. The MQ is not an adoption map. It has nothing to do with the size of the company. The MQ does not have a US focus. And finally, surveyed companies do not have to be a Gartner client.

Updated every 18 to 24 months and reflecting the long cycles of traditional vendors, who used to take years before their could achieve a significant position on a market

Wrong again. This MQ is updated every year, and Yves should know that. And the MQ is definitely not reflecting sales or product cycles from anybody.

This quadrant includes a combination of dying technologies which have been acquired over and over again (ETI, Open Text’s Genio…), loading utilities (Syncsort, Pervasive, Sybase’s Solonde…) and real enterprise solutions (Informatica, IBM’s DataStage). One component is missing: open source – of course.

I may be repeating myself here, but for every MQ there is a pre-defined set of inclusion criteria, and every vendor that meets those criteria, will be included. Period. Whether they have been acquired a gazillion times (not sure, why that matters), sell “dying technology” (as Yves puts it, well, it’s his job as marketier to knock the competition) or sell products that are made from clay. It does not matter, as long as they match the criteria. And open source vendors are not “missing, of course”, but because not one of them can meet those set criteria (to date). We are even changing the inclusion criteria to make it possible at all for open source vendors to be evaluated. If we would stick with “minimum license revenue of 20M USD” (I picked an arbitrary figure!) as one of the inclusion criteria, it’s hard to see how any open source data integration tools vendor would make the MQ any time soon, as they typically don’t license the software. Because this wouldn’t be fair to open source vendors, we use a figure for “minimum total revenue” instead (only for open source vendors, that generate revenues mostly from service subscriptions), so they have at least a chance of being included in the MQ. If the vendor does not make those figures, they are still out. Nobody gets included for good will.

Some would say that open source vendors cannot afford to pay Gartner (I personally don’t think it makes a difference). This may be true for some vendors. But in our case, Talend is a commercial vendor with strong resources and could afford a contract with Gartner.

Ah, the old mis-perception. Being included in any MQ (not just for data integration tools) is in no way depending on being a Gartner client. I’m happy to see that you don’t think it makes a difference. Because it doesn’t.

But why? To hear that “open source is immature (probability 0.9) and will become mature in 5 to 20 years (probability 0.8)”?

That is funny. But Yves made that up, of course. Interesting though is, that Yves makes the connection between Talend’s exclusion in the MQ and general open source maturity. I think that’s a bit of a stretch, as there are many technology areas that are considered mature (operating system, web servers, app servers, DBMS, to name a few), but data integration is just not there yet, according to our data from user surveys. Yves himself has provided reference accounts of Talend users for our open source data integration survey.

No thanks. We know, and our clients know, that open source has changed a lot over the past years and has become a true alternative for the enterprise (probability 1.0). Maybe even Gartner will realize this one day (probability 0.2)!

We are not disagreeing at all, that “open source has changed a lot”, but that’s not the point. We are also realizing that open source tools (of many kinds) are used in small, medium and large enterprises. All of these things are definitely taken into consideration when we evaluate open source, as we update the MQ again next year. Equally, we will be looking how the rest of the data integration market has developed, as open source does not exist in a vacuum. Criteria may change, too.  Until then, I hope this clarifies the 2008 version of the data integration MQ, even for Yves. Probability … uh.. never mind. We stopped using those probabilities quite some time ago, anyway.


  • Yves de Montcheuil   December 29, 2008 at 6:00 am


    Thanks for the post, and for giving your point of view on my comments. I stand corrected on some facts (the frequency of the updates for example, that has increased in the past few years) but still believe that your cycles and inclusion criteria are no longer suited to accelerating market cycles.

    Take the Data Integration quadrant, for example. Its latest update cycle was initiated in the summer of 2008. Inclusion criteria such as revenue or number of customers were based on 2007 numbers. The MQ was released in Q3 – based on numbers that were almost one year old.

    Take on the other hand a fast growing and well funded vendor like Talend. We launched our GPL product just two years ago, our commercial open source version not even 18 months ago, and have already achieved a market penetration that took some proprietary vendors 10+ years to achieve. Because your inclusion criteria were based on 2007 numbers, Talend did not make it.

    Am I frustrated not to see Talend included? Of course I am. Is it hurting our business? I don’t think so. When I ask CIOs or CTOs of companies who have chosen our technology if they are willing to talk to Gartner analysts about their choice, the answer I get is usually a variation of “I would be happy to, but why? Gartner does not believe in open source anyway.”

    I agree that this is a difficult exercise, and that you cannot include in the MQ every small vendor that promises to revolutionize the world. But you could – and should – give more weight to real-time track record, adoption and market trends, and to the potential of alternative models.