Atlassian has introduced a unified communications as a service, or UCaaS, product that will eventually replace HipChat, the company's team messaging application, and go head-to-head against similar products from Cisco, Microsoft and Slack.
Stride, the new product launched this week, is a cloud-based meeting service that includes file sharing, team messaging, and video and audio calling. Companies using the cloud version of Atlassian HipChat will have the option of upgrading to Stride starting in October.
Organizations can continue to use HipChat Cloud or the on-premises option, but "we believe we have built [in Stride] a more compelling product," said Steve Goldsmith, the general manager of Stride.
For example, Atlassian Stride will contain services found in other Atlassian software, such as document collaboration, notifications and alerts, and presence. Having a standard set of services makes the use of multiple products easier for customers, Goldsmith said.
Atlassian Stride's meeting capabilities will make it unique in the product portfolio, but it's communication features will be shared. For example, people using Atlassian's project management software, Trello, will be able to join a video or audio conference started in Stride.
Why kill Atlassian HipChat?
Steve Goldsmithhead of communications for Atlassian products
HipChat is primarily known as a team messaging product used by software development teams. "The company will have to expand its efforts to position Stride as a product that can be used companywide," said Raul Castanon-Martinez, an analyst at 451 Research.
That effort could be helped by focusing on Atlassian Stride over HipChat. "Managing the marketing, positioning and messaging of products with overlapping functionalities can be challenging," Castanon-Martinez said.
Large UC providers, such as Cisco, Google and Microsoft, have often struggled with that problem in their more extensive communications and team collaboration portfolios.
Stride, which will cost $3 per user, per month, is expected to appeal to a broader customer base with group meeting capabilities that include document collaboration and the ability to separate important activities and decisions, Goldsmith said.
"The challenges that people have in communication are not just messaging," Goldsmith said.
Atlassian has almost 90,000 customers using its products, which also include collaboration tools for software developers and incident tracking for IT support groups. The company declined to provide the number of Atlassian HipChat customers.
Atlassian faces Cisco, Google, Microsoft
As a UCaaS product, Stride will compete directly with Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams and Slack. Smaller companies also competing for customers include Blue Jeans Network, LoopUp and Zoom Video Communications.
Atlassian will find it difficult to grab market share from Cisco and Microsoft, so it will likely compete for a smaller piece of the pie with Slack and others. "Our data shows that the offerings from the more established collaboration players, like Cisco and Microsoft, are poised to gain the most market share, especially among larger organizations," said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.
For years, sales of UCaaS products went mostly to small and midsize companies. Larger organizations avoided the products, believing they were incapable of securing content and providing communication privacy.
Those attitudes have changed. In a recent poll of senior IT executives, Nemertes Research found 44% considered cloud services more secure than on-premises options, and 38% said there was no difference between the two or the quality of security depended on the app, not its location.
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