Have you been in the QA industry at the Enterprise level for more than 10 years? You’ve probably seen a lot of the bigger vendors come and go, including Compuware, Mercury, HP Software, SOASTA, etc. You’ve seen the growth of open source with X, Y, and Z (tools I can’t remember or choose to forget – I refuse to name them). However, if you don’t yet have Eggplant on your radar, you should start taking notice. Gartner and Forrester have. With over 500+ customers, they have made it to the magic quadrant, and there is a lot of forward momentum with the company. I first took notice in 2016 when their Eggplant Performance product added Citrix support.
I attended the first Eggplanet US conference in Philadelphia on 10/09/2019 – 10/10/2019. While this was a smaller conference of about 200 people, it was really well done. The atmosphere was wonderful, the food was great, and for the first time in a long time I actually relaxed and had a LOT of fun. Full disclosure: I was also a presenter, but was not paid for my participation in the event. If you would like to read a short takeaway of the highlights by an Eggplant employee, check out this blog from Mike Giacometti.
AI was a big topic – probably because this is a major feature of their functional testing product line. More than just AI, there was a lot of talk about innovation. I really enjoyed the keynote from Mike Gualtieri, Lead Analyst at Forrester about machine learning, AI, and what data scientists actually do. At the end of his session, I realized that there is an entirely new lifecycle that I needed to be aware of. This kind of experience where innovation is in the forefront of the conversation was great. This is something that Micro Focus could take a lesson from.
From a marketing standpoint, I have noticed that something has changed with regards to Eggplants visibility. I was starting to see and hear about them more and more in the social media space. This is no doubt due to the addition of Chief Marketing Officer Candace Arnold, and her marketing team. I haven’t felt the kind of positive emotional connection in a testing/QA conference since the Mercury days. It reminds me of what Chris Lochhead did for Mercury when they were a Silicon Valley darling before that whole “stock option backdating” thing that many of us want to forget. Much like the fall of Adam and Eve, it messed up a lot of things apart from the original sin.
Speaking of Mercury, I was very surprised to see so many familiar faces at this conference. Many people from the Mercury ecosystem – past employees and partners – were in attendance. After all these years, many of us are still doing the same thing with the same passion, just looking for a place to direct it. Maybe Eggplant is giving these people a place to land? It’s different, but I see so many parallels.
You may have noticed just a few days ago I released a 60+ page, in-depth review on the Eggplant Performance product. I was happily surprised to hear many of the employees had actually read it. Without trying to be purposefully mean about anything, I tried to present an objective, third party review that did not pull any punches. This is the kind of conversation we need to be having between software users and software makers. From the feedback I received, they appreciated the honesty.
Some of you who are in the industry and may even be a competitor could be thinking “but the products aren’t as good or mature or as xxx as this other tool….” Who cares!! One thing I have learned over the years of developing software and even launching my own product is that it really does not matter if you are the “BEST” tool from a technical perspective (which means something different to each person). What really matters is value. Are you helping the customers achieve value? Are you helping them solve a problem? Are you doing it without the pressure of a meeting a quarterly quota for the regional sales manager? Are you doing business with integrity and without being a jerk? These are things that matter more to some of us. We can always continue to develop the tools.
Many of the customers in attendance are in the healthcare vertical. This is because many of them are dealing with EMR/EHR systems that are deployed through Citrix. Many of these customers told me that one of their biggest considerations for choosing Eggplant over another vendor was the strong Citrix support for Functional automation. There is a limited number of full-featured testing products that support Citrix well. You would think there would be more. Citrix is used by about 98% of the Fortune 500 and is here to stay for a while. With all the EMR support, it was no surprise that one of the main presenters was Chuck Schneider, VP Cloud Application Development of Cerner who showed that you can take DevOps to scale with the Eggplant products.
Conversations that I was part of included testimonials from customers about Eggplants commitment to them, especially in the area of support. I experienced this myself, as I had to reach out for support on a recent engagement. It was a much different experience than years of poor support from HP/HPE. I also noticed was what was missing from the conference. At no time from Eggplant leadership, the speakers, or during casual conversations did I feel the products were being pushed, hawked, and shoved down my throat. At no time did I hear Eggplant slamming their competition. If was as if they were confident enough to let the products speak for themselves. They didn’t have to put on the “schmooze”. What a wonderful thing! I can only hope this continues as they grow, and they retain this attitude. IPO’s, stockholders, and sleazy sales people that enter as wolves in sheeps clothing have a way of changing a company over time.
The bottom line was that I actually ENJOYED the conference, I LEARNED from the conference, and I INTERACTED comfortably at the conference. It’s been awhile since I could say that. For this being the first one in the US, it went off like it had been done many times before. I am looking forward to more.