Beware of Franken-Apps, especially Franken-Monitor

In the future, historians researching technology acquisitions may very well conclude that “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.” Certainly, if you are on the receiving end of a multi-billion dollar technology acquisition, things are looking rosy. Founders make money. PowerPoint presentations abound with dreams of synergies and promises of “deep product integration.” Then TechCrunch writes about how it was a bad deal, the dust settles, and on we go to the next one. But if you are on the receiving end of the resulting technology “integration,” i.e. you are a customer, you’re probably going to be worse off.

Looks good in PowerPoint and a Feature Matrix

In the IT management industry, as in many other tech spaces, the merging of products often never makes it past the PowerPoint stage. Why? Anyone who’s been through it knows that it’s hard to integrate two architectures and two interfaces, let alone two different teams, often with two different company cultures. And if the company has acquired more than one technology to build their offering, then forget about it. Getting to a singular product experience (beyond a poor-man’s single sign-on implementation) is going to take a long time to realize.

Who loses?  The end user–the one who matters most!

In the race to fill out the feature matrix that beats the competition, the products that result from acquisitions tend to emerge as a patchwork of interesting features that never really work together as promised.  In our space of performance management, these products come together as Franken-Monitor. We were talking to an old friend Bernd Harzog of the Virtualization Practice the other day and he reminded us that he wrote about this very issue in a post titled, Beware of the Franken-Monitor back in 2005. Lots of people have made a lot of money selling a long list of features to an IT buyer. But the result is often disappointing. After 6 months of integration, you end up with loosely stitched together apps, each with their own learning curves and UI idiosyncrasies. And believe me, we speak from experience. The leaders at this company have been on both sides of multiple product acquisitions and integrations.

It doesn’t have to be that way

New Relic is taking a different approach. We believe that focusing on the end user experience is more important than every corner-case feature. We intend to deliver a rich, powerful experience across all of our (ever-growing) capabilities. We’re dedicated to a bottoms-up approach to our solution. Will we never, ever buy a technology to make New relic an even more powerful tool? Who knows? But we’re not doing that today. And it is our commitment to never deliver a Franken-Experience. We’ll always be browser-delivered, easy to integrate with and have a flexible UI. We think our users are more important than filling out a feature matrix.'

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