Gartner's deal to buy fellow IT analyst Burton Group crunches the number of firms available to CIOs seeking third-party insight into technology decision-making options, especially as it follows on from the similar-sized capture of AMR late last year.

The buy will enhance Gartner's reputation as the Manchester United (or 800-pound gorilla if you you don't speak football) of tech watchers, and seems to offer a nice fit between the former's high-level strategy focus and the latter's more techie outlook. But it will also have many pundits wondering about where the analyst business goes next.

Early reactions on Twitter ("there goes the neighbourhood", "holy crap", "where have all the independent firms gone?" etc) seem to suggest fears that Gartner could develop something of a lock on the sector but the news could be good for the vast number of boutique indies such as Freeform Dynamics, MWD, Red Monk, Directions On Microsoft and others that enjoy the benefits of a more narrow focus. As corporate IT becomes more influenced by consumerisation, open source, cloud computing and other trends, there should remain plenty of opportunity to add grace notes to Gartner's increasingly Wagnerian muscial swell. 

As for Gartner's nearest rivals such as Forrester and IDC (part of CIO UK's ultimate owner IDG, I should probably say), there will doubtless be strategy meetings taking place very soon, although it's safe to say they won't be asking for Gartner's opinions.