NetScout sues Gartner over Magic Quadrant placing

Network performance management supplier NetScout launches lawsuit after being labelled a ‘challenger’ on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

Network performance management specialist NetScout has launched a lawsuit against analyst house Gartner after it was placed as a "challenger" on the Networking Performance Management Monitoring and Diagnostics (NPM) Magic Quadrant.

Gartner defines a "challenger" as a company that executes well today or may dominate a large segment, but does not yet understand market direction. The "leader" and "visionary" positions are generally considered the most desirable among technology suppliers.

In NetScout’s complaint, filed at the Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, the supplier sued Gartner under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and for corporate defamation arising from Gartner’s IT research business practices.

It said it had suffered “damage to its reputation, disparagement of its character, economic damage, lost business, [and] lost business opportunities” as a result of Gartner’s “false and defamatory” statements made with “actual malice, ill will, improper and malevolent purpose and with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth”.

NetScout contested claims made in the Magic Quadrant report that said it offered a hardware-based deployment model that limited its ability to address demand for software as a service, and a “limited ability to expand beyond its network management heritage”. It claimed Gartner had described it as a “conservative stalwart” lacking the reach and influence of its competitors.

It also accused Gartner of being neither independent nor objective and claimed its business model was based on extortion.

“Gartner has a ‘pay-to-play’ business model that, by its design, rewards Gartner clients who spend substantial sums on its various services by ranking them favourably in its influential Magic Quadrant research reports and punishes technology companies that choose not to spend substantial sums on Gartner services,” said NetScout.

“While Gartner purports to provide objective and unbiased analysis of technology companies in its Magic Quadrant reports, Gartner sells other services to technology companies, including 'consulting' services, informing companies that, if they pay for Gartner's 'consulting' services, the companies will enhance their relationships with Gartner analysts.”

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In a statement made available by Gartner, vice-president of corporate communications, Andrew Spender, dismissed the complaint as without merit.

“We intend to defend ourselves and the integrity of our research process vigorously,” said Spender. “We remain committed to providing our clients with independent research and advice about the products and services that we cover, and upon which they have relied for decades.”

The NPM Magic Quadrant was first released in March 2014. At the time, Gartner research vice-president, Jonah Kowall, who was one of the report authors, said Gartner felt it was critical to get its foot in the door when it came to NPM before growing interest in software-defined networking (SDN) made monitoring and diagnostics even more important and complex than they already are.

The analyst firm reckons the NPM market is worth $1bn, and its main actors, which besides NetScout include firms such as CA, HP, Riverbed and SevOne, are already grappling with SDN as the current generation of network performance management tools falls short of user expectations.

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