'

Is Gartner a victim of its own terminology?

There’s that thing about acronyms when it comes to technology that leaves the non-techies out there blank isn’t there? I had to explain ‘OEM’ to someone this week for starters!

There’s that thing about acronyms when it comes to technology that leaves the non-techies out there blank isn’t there? I had to explain ‘OEM’ to someone this week for starters! Then there’s my favourite geek party trick, which is to see if anyone else knows that NICAM stands for Near Instantaneous Compounded Audio Multiplexing.

Deeper tech goes one stage further doesn’t it? We use whole terms - or to be more accurate companies use whole terms - and expect us to take them as de facto standards right off the shelf.

Intel expects you to know what a Strategic Inflexion Curve is because Andy Grove coined the phrase in his (I will admit excellent) book Only the Paranoid Survive. Microsoft expects you to know what a Release Candidate is when it has really only been an in house term used by the company itself. Then there’s Gartner, who expect you to know what a Magic Quadrant and a Hype Cycle is.

I pick on Gartner somewhat unfairly as the Magic Quadrant has become particularly well known and the Hype Cycle ‘gauge’ (if I can call it that) pretty much does do what it says on the tin i.e. it measures hype.

I mention these comments in the context of the venerable research firm’s latest admonishments over cloud-based security services offerings in advance of its Information Security Summit 2009 in London next week on 21-22 September.

Gartner says that security services provided in the cloud (or, I kid you not, as they like to call them “Internet-fabric-based managed security services”) have the potential to provide cost savings and faster deployment compared with equivalent-capacity, premises-based equipment, but providers are yet to deliver on customer expectations.

In comments released today, Gartner managing vice president Ray Wagner is reported to say that, “Technologies at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ on a Gartner Hype Cycle are there due to over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations and limited successful implementations, as the technology is pushed to its limits.”

It seems to me that Gartner is doing rather well out of the hype wave by branding it and using it as a platform for comment and consultancy. But fair enough then, why wouldn’t they? I wouldn’t be here commenting on it in return had they not. Perhaps it just seems a little rich to hype up a hype platform – do you know what I mean?