Google's OpenSocial Fueling Atlassian's SaaS Development Shift

Google's OpenSocial is fueling "a major evolutionary shift" in the development space around Software as a Service (SaaS), claims Australian collaboration and development tool maker Atlassian. Development teams that were once "paranoid about having their source code hosted" are moving increasingly towards SaaS, said Michael Knighten, Atlassian's director of hosted services, because of the open set of APIs for Web-based social network apps that Google originated.

"When we started, there was no such thing as Github," Knighten said, referring to the increasingly popular Web hosting service for projects using the open source Git revision control system. "We thought the market would go in that direction, but it was an educated guess at best. Now the idea of SaaS development collaboration is starting to gain traction."

"Even large teams with 100-plus developers are now confident to put their ‘behind the firewall' tools and most critical intellectual property into SaaS based applications," he added.

Atlassian is happy to be part of that trend. Its newly released Confluence 3.1 enterprise wiki/collaboration tool supports OpenSocial-compliant gadgets in pages and blog posts. It's also designed to serve up its own gadgets for use in any Atlassian solution or other OpenSocial-compliant Web application.

OpenSocial is a set of common APIs for Web-based social network apps, which Google developed. Apps implementing OpenSocial APIs can work with any social network.

The Confluence 3.1 bundle comprises two OpenSocial-compliant gadgets: an activity stream, which shows a list of recent activities that occurred on the server, and a quick navigation aid, which provides heading and content search capabilities on the Confluence server, Simons explained. The Confluence's plug-in architecture is designed to be compatible with more than 300 plug-ins, including many third-party developments, he added.

Atlassian is a long-time advocate of the OpenSocial standard for enterprise environments. The latest version of the company's hosted development tool suite, JIRA Studio, also supports OpenSocial. JIRA Studio was actually the company's first OpenSocial container and publisher. It combines a bug tracker, a wiki, a repository viewer, and a code review tool with the open-source Subversion version control software to deliver an integrated hosted (SaaS) development suite.

"This continues our strategy to introduce OpenSocial across our entire product line," said Jay Simons, Atlassian's vice president of marketing, "to improve the interoperability of those products through Gadget Exchange.

"People are just more comfortable with hosted tools today," Simon's added. "If you were to start a company today, would you buy Exchange from Microsoft and install it? Probably not. You're comfortable with e-mail as a service. You probably wouldn't buy Siebel for your CRM system. You'd swipe a credit card with SaaS applications have become so commonplace that people are just more comfortable with them. And we're definitely seeing that trend in the development tools space."

JIRA Studio 2.0, which was released on December 15, introduced JIRA 4, Atlassian's flagship issue tracking/agile project management framework. The company provides JIRA for free to open source projects, as well as non-profit and non-commercial groups, non-government orgs, non-academic projects and others.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].