Build Your B2B Influencer Marketing BlueprintGet Started

Interview with Merv Adrian

by | Jun 20, 2018 | Interviews,

Merv Adrian

Merv Adrian

Vice President at Gartner

Key Topics:Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, CRM, Cloud Computing, Start-ups, Market Research, Big Data, Product Management, Integration, Analytics
Location:San Francisco, USA

With over three decades of experience in IT, from programming to marketing and strategy, to IT market analysis, to research executive, Mr. Adrian now focuses on helping IT users and vendors be more effective – with market strategy analysis, best practice research, competitive assessment, message testing, and speaking engagements. The goal: to help buyers implement the right technology and practices to ensure that their time and money are well spent, and to help providers reach the right people with the right offering in the most cost-effective way.

Specialties: mapping the DBMS, Big Data and NoSQL product landscape and opportunities, driving understanding and communicating value. Having managed all tech research for a major research firm earlier in his career, Mr. Adrian brings decades of insight and experience across IT categories, focusing on software and the transition to cloud-based environments. He serves as Gartner’s lead analyst for Microsoft, coordinating Gartner’s research activities.

How did you get to become an expert in DBMS & Hadoop?

I began my professional career as a statistical analyst at the Federal Reserve and quickly gravitated towards what in those days were (acoustically coupled!) Burroughs terminals running a language for analytics used only by the world’s central banks. When the first IBM PCs came in the door I was all over them, and that got me started on end user analytics (Visicalc and Visitrend.) After a few years of adding other skills like IBM mainframe assembly language, COBOL and Information Builders’ FOCUS, I began working with a consulting firm doing projects around Wall Street and midtown NY, and wound up joining IBI – my first industry job. Later, I was recruited out to California to work at Sybase where I worked on database gateway technology and helped introduce the first successful columnar DBMS, Sybase IQ. I joined my first industry analyst firm from there – Giga Information Group. A couple of decades later, I’m still following information management and watching everything change yet again.

What areas of DBMS & Hadoop are you most passionate about?

The impact of open source on how both vendors and users develop, acquire, and deploy software.

The continuing economic refactoring of the information management stack driven by the availability of Hadoop and subsequent innovation that can replace parts of the existing fabric in a cloud-based infrastructure.

The impact on data security of the explosion of new data from ungoverned internal and external sources.

Which DBMS & Hadoop influencers influence you?

I spend a lot of time with vendors as an analyst and there are too many to name, but over recent years I find myself always learning an enormous amount from conversations with vendors like Mike Olson at Cloudera, Scott Gnau and Shaun Connolly at Hortonworks, Billy Bosworth at Datastax, and Anurag  Gupta at AWS.

Friends at Gartner like Donald Feinberg, Mark Beyer and Nick Heudecker are frequent collaborators I always learn from, and analysts at other firms like Carl Olofson, Tony Baer, Matt Aslett, James Governor and many others provide stimulating dialogues.

Gartner’s model is very heavy on direct client interaction, and it’s a two-way street. Some of the most instructive conversations I have are with our customers, who are among the most aggressive, leading edge implementers of new technology at scale. They are pioneering the new best practices, and we both learn from their successes and failures.

Outside of DBMS & Hadoop who else influences you?

How would you describe your offline influence?

I’ve stayed mostly within the Gartner structure since joining, mostly speaking at our own events. I’ve spoken at some outside events and published here and there, but that’s been fairly minimal over the past few years. I don’t do a lot of press either, but I’ve had an amazing, steady rise on twitter to over 30,000 followers and I’m constantly surprised by comments I get there, and fro people who stop me on in the hall or on elevators when I have a nametag on at events. Mostly, they are positive interactions – but the critical comments are useful too, and I’ve been schooled more than once by people who know more than I do. That’s a big part of the population, it seems, and it’s a good character builder. You should never think you can’t learn anymore.

What are going to be the key developments in the industry in the next 12 months?

GDPR is going to drive a massive examination of data security in the data management world.

The cloud is forcing a refactoring of the stack and a re-examination of development from a more composition-based perspective using services.

The arrival of widely available persistent memory will upend decades of practice in data persistence and force transformations of leading DBMSs. This is already underway, but vendors will deliver at varying speeds and their competitive positions will be profoundly impacted by their readiness.

If a brand wanted to work with you, what activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

I work with Gartner clients. Webinars are an occasional deliverable, and so are speaking engagements, but these are secondary priorities – my organization focuses on working with the users of technology with a minor in vendor engagement. I advise on strategy, market developments, user trends and positioning.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

Through Gartner