How to find enterprise software reviews, or Enterprise software.
February 14, 2013 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a good way to filter out the best enterprise software products? I am looking for an enterprise software deployment tool and cant seem to google product reviews without someones inadvertant, or advertant twist on the product. Dont want a websearch. Came here hoping to hopefully find an answer(s). Thanks
posted by aceplanet to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think this will be difficult for a few reasons.

The core problem is that in the enterprise space, you're talking about stuff that is sold and used by large companies, not small operations.

In my experience (in large companies), purchasing decisions for enterprise software are not primarily based on the quality of the software. There are a lot of other factors, with price being very high on the list (and by "price," I mean the price that is come to after weeks or months of negotiation, taking into account things like agreed press releases, support contracts, etc. - not a single number). I've been involved in purchasing decisions for multi-million dollar contracts, and "how well does it work compared to its competitors" was just barely part of the conversation.

Second, the documents companies use to evaluate and decide on enterprise software are internal materials, not generally released to the public. There's no advantage to a large company to release the findings from software evaluation, and the individuals involved typically wouldn't be at liberty to release those on their own. Small companies or individuals that would be more inclined to share aren't typically the customers for enterprise software.

Finally, most enterprise software agreements I've been involved with have involved an NDA (generally a mutual NDA), which limits what can be said about the software externally.
posted by primethyme at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2013

I've been a sales engineer for multiple enterprise software vendors over the last 15 or so years. Enterprise-level software is not purchased based on reviews. Depending upon industry and software need, it may involve RFPs, competitive bids, and a review of reference accounts, but unlike consumer software, it typically gets purchased after a lengthy proof-of-concept period, financial negotiations, contract and legal reviews, and eventual deployment plan agreements. Editorial impressions are never part of the process.

Some industries have major conventions where vendors and customers can discuss these types of things, and users can chat about software amongst themselves. That may be what you want; I'm not familiar with software deployment, but I'd look for user groups for the software you have in mind, and see what conferences the vendors you're leaning towards are attending.
posted by ellF at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2013

There are companies that specifically are targeted to CIOs to help them understand the best enterprise software products, but 1) they don't do reviews* and 2) they are fiercely expensive. Off the top of my head, Gartner, Forrester, IDC and Ovum lead the list, but there are lots of other smaller firms that specialise in specific niches and lots of consultancies - large like Accenture and small - that do advisory and also do implementation work.

Note also that while the research firms are well regarded and independent, they are somewhat codependent with the vendors, not least for access to information. It's not that they are biased - they're not - but they are effectively part of the same industry and sometimes drink the kool aid.

All of them put out information for free on blogs and Twitter, and in white papers. Particularly for companies featured on the up in Gartner magic quadrants or Forrester's equivalent, you often see reprints on the company's website.

*They do vendor ratings rather than specifically drilling down to each product in a suite, because these are long term, large scale investments for companies and factors such as financial health and strategy of the company. Because this is more about backing the right horse than it is picking specific features of software that one likes and which work well. In that sense, good financials are used as a proxy for product success, although these guys do talk to purchasers also.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2013

That's the niche Wisegate tries to fill. It's basically designed to let senior technology people discuss technology without vendor chaff. There is a membership fee and a screening process to weed out vendors.

Full disclosure: The CEO of Wisegate is a friend.
posted by 26.2 at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Enterprise Open Source Directory aspired to do this for open source software but doesn't seem to have really gotten off the ground.
posted by XMLicious at 1:56 PM on February 14, 2013

The traditional IT media sources are the trade press: eWeek, Information Week, ComputerWorld, Redmond Mag, etc. I don't know of a canonical list, but you can likely find objective reviews and articles about the technologies you're looking into somewhere there. IT conferences and IT user groups are also a good way of getting recommendations and surveying vendors in person.

Once you have some product names, Googling can reveal quite a bit of information from blogs and forums around people using the software. Even if you don't trust what they're saying, it still gives you a sense of the size of the user base, what they're talking about, and what problems they're encountering, etc. A lot of can be inferred from this.

One non-traditional site to ask IT peers: Spiceworks Community is massive and filled with IT folks, mostly from small & mid-sized businesses. Another place to ask questions is IT Knowledge Exchange. More Windows-centric sites include Petri IT Knowledgebase, My IT Forum, and Mark Minasi's Reader Forum. One startup that's attempting to do the enterprise review thing: IT Central Station.

If you have more specific type of software deployment (Windows? Mobile? Server? Multi-component web apps?) or products under consideration we might be able to come up with more specific ideas.
posted by troyer at 2:39 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

TEC Advisor is a free comparison tool for enterprise software. It's requirements-based rather than review-oriented (i.e., you need to navigate a questionnaire before seeing comparison results), and a registration/login is required.

Full disclosure: I used to work for TEC & still have friends there.
posted by thisclickableme at 4:12 PM on February 14, 2013

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