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Atlassian Delivers More Deeply Collaborative DevOps Portfolio

Atlassian is one of the principal solution providers driving the DevOps revolution. In the 15 years since its founding, this Sydney, Australia-based company has pursued a rigorously ecosystem-focused strategy for delivering solutions that enable teams to collaborate more rapidly, effectively, and flexibly in development of enterprise applications and cloud services.

Atlassian is best known for its team issue-tracking application, Jira (introduced in 2002) and its team content co-creation and sharing application, Confluence (introduced in 2004). The solution provider has grown its product portfolio primarily, but not entirely, through acquisitions. For example, it acquired Trello earlier this year to beef up its ability to support team-based development through a simple, flexible, and visual workspace.

At Atlassian Summit 2017, taking place this week in San Jose, California, the company made a range of product announcements designed to help existing customers achieve more inclusive and collaborative DevOps. This week’s most significant announcements were as follows:

  • Improved application planning, development, and tracking: Atlassian announced that it has integrated its newly acquired Trello solution with several of its principal solutions. A new Trello integration with Bitbucket helps developers plan coding work rapidly and flexibly. Integration of Trello boards in Bitbucket Cloud provides a common workspace for enhanced tracking by all participants in coding projects without requiring non-technical personnel to learn Bitbucket. Integration of Trello with Confluence provides a real-time view into all work, and also the ability to insert Trello cards and boards on Confluence pages. In addition, Atlassian announced a new Invision Power Up solution that enables application designers to attach prototypes directly to Trello cards.
  • Enhanced application prioritization: Atlassian announced new programs and dependencies reporting features in the self-hosted version of Portfolio for Jira. This provides customers with more comprehensive visibility into multiple software development plans to ensure that business objectives are met as organizations scale. The new dependencies report surfaces dependencies across multiple teams and projects in a single view in real time, giving teams the ability to proactively mitigate risks and remove bottlenecks.
  • Easier access to in-context application help: Atlassian announced Embedded Jira Service Desk Cloud, which enables customers’ tech-support teams to provide users with embedded in-context help from any application. Through embedding of help buttons anywhere in application environment, developers can give users the ability to easily raise a Jira Service Desk request, report a bug or submit product feedback from the page they are already in. Those customer requests can then be triaged and piped right back into the software team’s backlog for speedy resolution through native integrations between Jira Service Desk and Jira Software.
  • Expanded support for unique, complex enterprise cloud deployments: Atlassian announced Jira Software Data Center for Azure, which simplifies how enterprise customers deploy Jira Sofware in Microsoft’s Azure cloud. Matching the capability introduced for the AWS cloud last year, Atlassian now lets customers deploy Jira Software Data Center in Azure for unique, complex enterprise cloud deployments. This provides Jira Software Data Center customers with high availability, disaster recovery and performance at scale with the deployment option that best fits their needs.
  • Improved support for containerized application deployments: Atlassian announced new features in Bitbucket Pipelines that enable developers to run additional containers for services needed by a build), to generate Docker image in Pipelines, and test multiple platforms with different Docker images.
  • Tightened DevOps security: Atlassian announced Identity Manager for Atlassian Cloud address customers’ security and identity management requirements across its solution portfolio. Leveraging the Security Assertion Markup Language standard, this new solution provides cloud customers with single sign-on for identity management, as well as enforced two-step verification, advanced password policies, and priority cloud support to help customers resolve issues faster.

Atlassian continues to grow impressively, having shown 36 percent year-over-year revenue growth in its most recent annual report (for FY17). Having gone IPO in 2016, Atlassian now lists on NASDAQ under TEAM. It has annual revenues of over $619.9 million, a market capitalization of $7.686 billion, and, as of July 2017, 2,193 employees worldwide. It serves more than 90,000 customers and millions of users in over 170 countries.

What’s most noteworthy about Atlassian is that it sustains this worldwide growth with a business model that eschews traditional sales teams entirely. Instead, Atlassian relies on a purely inbound, online Web-based e-commerce model for sales, solution delivery, and customer support. Riding on this go-to-market approach, the vendor’s “land and expand” customer-acquisition strategy relies on viral promotion, self-service customer access, transparent pricing, free trials, and standard contracts.

Atlassian makes it easy for customers to try, buy, and customize its offerings to their needs. In addition, Atlassian facilitates customer engagement with its growing ecosystem of solution partners, who collectively have generated more than $250 million in cumulative sales in Atlassian’s online marketplace in the past 5 years.

In coming years, Atlassian and its solution partners will find themselves increasingly challenged to match the growing DevOps platforms and ecosystems of its chief cloud partners, AWS and Azure. Nevertheless, Atlassian is also making great strides at mitigating that risk by bringing its expanding solution portfolio together into more a unified enterprise DevOps platform. This is most evident in Atlassian’s recent announcement of a single-price enterprise bundle—Atlassian Stack–incorporating its flagship offerings.

From my discussions with Atlassian customers, it’s clear that most have, at the very least, an extensive investment in Jira and Confluence. The vendor says that approximately half of the company’s customers with 500+ users own three or more Atlassian products. Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether Atlassian can prune its overstuffed toolset and confusing branding down to a clearer go-to-market message.

The vendor will also need to step up cross-product integrations, especially among its collaboration and knowledge-sharing tools (Confluence, Trello, Stride, and HipChat) and among its IT service management tools (Jira Service Desk and StatusPage). As it is, there is just too much overlapping functionality among solutions within Atlassian Stack.

Last but not least, Atlassian will need to beef up automation throughout its solution portfolio to strength its DevOps bonafides. This is a great toolset for scaling up the human collaborations necessary for many application DevOps functions, but, so far, Atlassian doesn’t seem to be investing significantly in enabling technologies—such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive next-best-action recommendations—needed to scale up its enterprise customers’ growing DevOps workloads to the max.

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