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NPM is Broken

As someone who bought and implemented NPM solutions, covered them as an analyst, and now watches the industry, one cannot help but notice that NPM(D) is broken. According to Gartner themselves, the data center is rapidly changing, the data center is going away, maybe not as quickly as Capp states, but it’s happening. This is apparent by the massive public cloud growth posted by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in their infrastructure businesses. This means that traditional appliance-based NPMD offerings will not work, nor will traditional ways of collecting packet data. Many of the flow offerings do not handle the new types of flows which these services generate, but most importantly they do not understand the internet, which is the most important part of assuring services in cloud hosted environments.

The network itself is not just moving to overlay a-la NSX and ACI, it's moving inside of orchestrated containers, and new proxy/load balancing systems typically built off components or modifications of NGNIX, Envoy, and other layers for caching. Applications are evolving just as quickly, and you see a race in APM to keep up, but NPM seems to just stay the same. NPM is broken, since all of the vendors in this Magic Quadrant are making the majority of their revenue selling hardware, and most of the cloud solutions are not feasible at scale as they rely on getting packets into a centralized analysis point.
One of the ideas, when we came up with the NPMD market at Gartner versus the previously used NPM terminology, was an emphasis on diagnostics. The goal was that as infrastructure became more complex, the diagnostics and workflows must evolve significantly. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened in the 5 years since this Magic Quadrant has begun. Why is innovation not happening? I have a hypothesis.
After reading the new Magic Quadrant for NPMD released in February 2019,  there were some rightful moves in the ratings, for example, Extrahop's vision has always been sound, and leading most of the laggards in this Magic Quadrant. Extrahop has always been considered somewhat of a hybrid as they have been able to fulfill many APM use cases, including working with AppDynamics for specific requirements. Of the 10 vendors who remain:
  • 5 companies are public
    • Broadcom, Cisco, NetScout, Viavi (JDSU) have been for a very long time. NetScout is the only of these vendors who make the bulk of their revenue in NPM technologies.
    • Congratulations to SolarWinds and the wizards at Thoma Bravo for the re-spinout!
  • 1 company is venture capital-backed (Extrahop)
  • 5 companies are owned by private equity (Accedian, RiverBed, LiveAction, LogicMonitor, SevOne)
  • Can't figure out who owns Colasoft, Zoho, and H3C. H3C is very large and diversified, as is Zoho.
If this market needs to evolve with the infrastructure why is there so little deployed growth capital? When looking at the last round of funding for Extrahop it was in 2014, nearly 5 years ago. If there is such heavy investment in other technologies to support the migration to cloud architectures, why not in NPMD?
In the next blogs, I'll be covering what happened in APM over 8 years ago, and what has failed to happen in the NPMD market to date. A second topic will be the evolution in buyers of NPMD solutions, and finally a further analysis of the cloud trends as applied to networks and network performance.
If you want to read the Magic Quadrant you can download a copy from the AppNeta or Extrahop websites, thanks to you both!

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