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Atlassian Open DevOps tools stitch together more workflows

As all-in-one DevOps tools vendors grow, Atlassian argues users want choice; customers say third-party tools integration is a timesaver, but the company faces headwinds.

An update to Atlassian's Open DevOps expands integrations with third-party products as well as its own tools, as the vendor takes a different tack on developer toolchains compared with its major competitors.

Generally, the Open DevOps approach, which emphasizes developer choice and integration with third-party tools, is a deliberate departure from competitor products that seek to offer pre-integrated single toolchains, said Suzie Prince, head of product for DevOps at Atlassian.

"Companies and individuals are using 25 different tools [on average] in their software delivery toolchain, and organizations are devoting 10% of their development time to maintain this tool chain," Prince said. "Sometimes the reaction in the market is to standardize on a single tool, but this would not give room for creativity of individual development teams. We take a different approach."

This week's update to Atlassian Open DevOps, a Jira Software add-on launched in 2021 to link together disparate developer workflow tools, builds in support for Atlassian's recently shipped Compass product, which tracks the ownership and performance of distributed applications. The update also revamps the tool's Release page to show feature flag status information based on fresh integrations with partners LaunchDarkly and Split Software. Data on pull requests is now part of the tool's Build page.

Upcoming additions to the Plan page within Open DevOps will include scope creep alerts, to be added this quarter, and stuck issue notifications set to ship in the first quarter of 2023. A new page within the Open DevOps UI, called Discovery, features integrations with virtual whiteboard vendor partners Productboard, Miro and Mural in this week's update. The Discovery page will be the site of a new Atlassian idea management product due for launch in early 2023, according to company officials.

It's increasingly common for internal platform engineering teams to take on this integration burden for the deployment phase of application delivery, but Atlassian's focus with Open DevOps is on the earlier planning, coding, building and issue tracking phases of the software development lifecycle, Prince said.

Some of Atlassian's existing customers, including some respondents to a company survey quoted in a blog post this week, welcomed the expansion of Open DevOps to tie in with more third-party tools, which spares them manual integration efforts.

"Our DevOps team was happy to see Concourse CI integration," said Mike Miracle, chief strategy officer at Kubernetes backup service provider Catalogic Software, in a separate interview this week. "Integrating Concourse directly into a Jira issue allows developers to run a CI pipeline from within a Jira issue, so it is a timesaver in completing tasks for the developer and the downstream QA team."

It can be difficult to find Concourse integrations among DevOps products, given it's a lesser-known CI/CD platform, Miracle said.

Atlassian pushes against market headwinds

While customers such as Miracle welcome expansion for Open DevOps, concerns about issues that have surfaced with Atlassian's products this year, from a major cloud outage in April to a major security vulnerability in June, still linger.

We are happy to have a fully integrated toolchain that makes distributed development easier, provided it is done with a strong security model.
Mike MiracleChief strategy officer, Catalogic Software

"We are happy to have a fully integrated toolchain that makes distributed development easier, provided it is done with a strong security model," Miracle said. "Catalogic Software did make the move to the Atlassian cloud in October from self-hosting [but] based on our past experience of being hacked via the Confluence CVEs … we are being very careful with any integrations we do for CI/CD."

One industry analyst was pessimistic about the chances Atlassian's focus on user choice for Open DevOps gives it against all-in-one competitors such as GitLab and JFrog.

"I'm afraid I have to disagree that customers want freedom of choice to pick the best-of-breed software in the DevOps toolchain," said Larry Carvalho, a principal consultant at RobustCloud. "Although a few customers need unique capabilities, most customers like a tested suite of integrated products."

Atlassian's recent financial results included customer and revenue growth that fell short of financial analyst expectations. In its fiscal first quarter of 2023 that ended Sept. 30, Atlassian added 6,550 customers for a total of 249,173, while analysts had forecasted growth to 250,700. Atlassian executives wrote in a letter to shareholders that weaker-than-expected revenues for the quarter reflected fewer conversions of users from free to paid versions of products, and slower-than-anticipated expansion of license seats within existing customer organizations.

Atlassian executives cited an overall souring macroeconomic climate for these trends in their letter, but Carvalho also said he sees this year's missteps in cloud reliability and security playing a role in this as well.

"Overall, the lack of Atlassian revenue growth is not due to belt-tightening but the lack of confidence by customers," Carvalho said. "GitLab and JFrog are more successful with customers due to an end-to-end suite of products that benefit from better reliability than Atlassian."

Financially speaking, results from GitLab and JFrog, which are also public companies, have been a mixed bag. GitLab stock has declined significantly in value since its IPO last year, in part due to an overall decline in market valuations, and it has reported deepening operating losses in recent quarters. JFrog stock also declined 12% following its most recent earnings report Nov. 2.

GitLab and JFrog have smaller customer bases than Atlassian. Top-line revenue at all three companies grew significantly for the quarter, despite forecast misses that affected their stock price.

But while Atlassian disclosed slowing customer conversions and growth, GitLab and JFrog reported details that indicate the all-in-one approach might be catching on among customers. GitLab attributed its revenue growth in the third quarter to the integration of security features in version 15 of its platform, released in May. JFrog reported that customers adopting its end-to-end JFrog Platform represented 39% of total revenue versus 34% in the year-ago period.

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.

Atlassian Open DevOps toolchains
Atlassian Open DevOps' Discover phase sets the stage for a new idea management product to come in early 2023.

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