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Being a Visionary Isn’t Always Easy

For those of you in the enterprise IT industry, you know that vendors take the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ reports very seriously. We believe the Magic Quadrants, in turn, reflect the nature of inquiries Gartner gets from their many clients, so it’s a great proxy for what people are interested in.

As MarkLogic is widely perceived as a database, we work to better position ourselves in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems. We are recognized as a “Visionary” for the second time — good news, indeed! — but aren’t considered a “Leader” quite yet.

Gartner MQ for Cloud DBMS 2021


Download the report: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems


I interpret this recognition as “wow, you are doing some very cool stuff, but you don’t fit neatly into our established framework” which I think is a very fair evaluation.

I also could say — by extension — our many customers are visionaries as well. They all had unique problems to solve, and had to look outside of mainstream products and services to get to a better answer. If not visionaries, then certainly they are leaders.

The View Inside

Smaller technology companies often get advice along the lines of “go after the market leaders and do a better job than them.” Perhaps — if you’re prepared to dramatically outspend your competition — it can work. Just bring money.

But that’s not meaningful innovation, is it? You’re not solving new problems in a new way, you’re solving familiar problems in a slightly better way. A look backwards shows that innovators tend to create categories, rather than the other way around.

If we look at the MarkLogic technology stack (database plus tooling), and ask which familiar categories we are relevant in, it’s a daunting list. In addition to our role in the database category, we are also relevant in metadata management, knowledge engineering, data marts, application platforms, data integration, as a component of an AI/ML toolchain, emerging data fabrics, and so on.

Well-defined industry categories are certainly not our friends here at MarkLogic. I would suggest that’s part of being a visionary — seeing the opportunity, instead of the boundaries.

MarkLogic being a metadata-centric data platform, every one of our customers is using metadata as an agile response to creating value from complex data. Does that make us a database? Yes. And a metadata management platform, a knowledge engineering platform, a data hub, and so on.

Despite not neatly fitting into a sanctioned category, it’s darn useful stuff in the real world. And the analysts really enjoy hearing about what our customers have done with the technology.

The View Outside

When I was going through customer interviews, it struck me how each and every one of them came to the realization that they had a unique problem — a complex data problem — and the familiar approaches weren’t going to work for them.

Having that insight — and bravery — in a typical corporate or government environment does not come easily. I can vouch for that. Their proposed solution — built on MarkLogic — did not neatly fit into any familiar established category. So they had to argue for it — and then follow through with fast results.

What Comes Next?

Analyst interest is a reflection of their clients’ interests, and I see signs of growing interest across the landscape. Indeed, anywhere there exists the potential for massive quantities of active metadata to be organized and leveraged, people are going to want a metadata-centric platform.

Right now, graph databases are hot, simply because it’s a natural way of organizing metadata along the lines of human knowledge, e.g. knowledge graphs. MarkLogic does this quite well, but it’s just one tool among several in the bag. Platforms win over individual tools in most situations.

But it’s clear to me that no one is talking much about the inherent challenges of working with complex data, or the active metadata platforms required — yet.

Yet the progression is a natural one in our industry — from individual capabilities to platforms that tie everything together. Seen that way, the role of a metadata-centric platform is almost inevitable, but yet recognized as a Visionary offering through today’s analyst lens.

That’s actually great news if you think about it. Each and every one of our customers can claim that they are running on a “future state” data architecture, and they wouldn’t be stretching the truth.

They are all visionaries. Whether that was through intent or happenstance doesn’t matter much :)

To all of you who fought the battles, we believe you too have earned a “Visionary” recognition. Because it takes a certain courage to step outside of conventional thinking — and look at problems differently.

We at MarkLogic thank you.


Download the report: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems, By Henry Cook, Merv Adrian, Rick Greenwald, Adam Ronthal, Philip Russom, Published 14 December 2021.

Gartner and Magic Quadrant are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from MarkLogic using the link above.

Chuck joined the MarkLogic team in 2021, coming from Oracle as SVP Portfolio Management. Prior to Oracle, he was at VMware working on virtual storage. Chuck came to VMware after almost 20 years at EMC, working in a variety of field, product, and alliance leadership roles.

Chuck lives in Vero Beach, Florida with his wife and three dogs. He enjoys discussing the big ideas that are shaping the IT industry.

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