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We Did it Again: We’re a Leader in 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for APM & Observability for the Second Year in a Row

By Charity Majors  |   Last modified on July 12, 2023

When the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report came out in 2022, we did the professional equivalent of a spit take, then cheered wildly. NOT ONLY did they include observability for the first time ever in their newly revamped 2022 Magic Quadrant for APM & [now] Observability, but they also put us in the Leader Quadrant—our debut appearance!

Moreover, it was clear that Gartner was very thorough in its research. The rest of the world was merrily slapping “observability” stickers on every product line and marketing campaign under the sun, running the risk of diluting the term into oblivion. But Gartner paid close attention to what was new and powerful about observability compared to earlier generations of tooling. High cardinality, high dimensionality, explorability; the ability to understand what’s happening inside your system by observing it from the outside. Gartner set the bar high and continues to hold vendors accountable for their claims instead of merely parroting their copy. 

Despite this, most “observability tools” on the market to this day, at their core, are the same old monitoring or APM tools of yore, built to power dashboards and answer questions about aggregates and known-unknowns. Don’t get me wrong, APMs definitely have a purpose but they are not effective when it comes to providing state-of-the-art observability.

True observability tools are architected to anticipate the challenges associated with today’s complex and distributed cloud systems, e.g., an unprecedented volume of telemetry data, unpredictability, and stringent end-user expectations for high-performing applications. This matters because individual outcomes matter. It’s not only the 99th percentile, or the 99.99th percentile, or the average, or the mean. Engineers aren’t responsible for percentiles; they are responsible for making sure that every package gets delivered, every bank deposit is credited, and every payment transaction goes through. Without observability, you have no way of guaranteeing these results—or debugging any failures.

It (unfortunately!) remains the case that Honeycomb is the only vendor in the APM & Observability category that meets the technical bar for observability as Gartner defines it: “observability-centric solutions support an exploratory, analytics-driven workflow that may bear more resemblance to business intelligence (BI) than IT operations.” They go on to note that observability solutions “identify and predict pathologies quickly enough to resolve them with minimal user impact, alongside access to raw, high-cardinality telemetry and tools to explore and understand it.” It does seem like many vendors are on their way—and it certainly helps that they have multiple orders of magnitude more resources than we do!

In the past year, our small but mighty engineering team has made huge improvements to BubbleUp, delivered a Service Map, and released Query Assistant, an AI-powered feature that allows engineers to ask questions of their systems in plain English—the first of its kind. 

Over the next year, you can expect to see us double down on bringing observability to not just individual engineers, but entire engineering teams. No engineer exists or does work in a silo; we can only hope to understand today’s massively distributed systems collectively and collaboratively by leveraging each other’s deep knowledge of different parts of the system. This means investing in things like Kubernetes, which has emerged as the standardized platform of the cloud native world, and eBPF, its lingua franca.

As the world enters the early days of an AI onslaught on all fronts, we now have more and more engineers writing, generating, and bearing ultimate responsibility for code that they know less about than ever before. The key question of, “What is my software doing, and what is my user experiencing?” is becoming harder to answer, even as it becomes more necessary to do so. But wherever engineers take the powers of generative AI and other tools, Honeycomb will be there to help.

Download a complimentary copy of the Magic Quadrant report to learn more about Honeycomb’s Leader position, strengths, and product vision for 2023.


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