JFrog Releases 'Universal' Artifact Repository

JFrog today announced the release of Artifactory 4, its cloud-based binary repository manager, which the company is billing as the first "universal" artifact repository, and the biggest product announcement in the company's history.

The new version of JFrog's flagship product is designed to manage all binary artifacts equally well, regardless of the programming language or technology used to create them, explained Adam Frankl, JFrog's vice president of marketing.

" 'Universal' means multi-platform, multi-technology," Frankl told ADTmag. "There are lots of single-technology repositories out there, but we live in a polyglot world. Developers use multiple languages and technologies. We also function as a container registry; we can host any type of software packaging technology. So Artifactory becomes the one place you can store all of your JAR files, your RubyGems, your Docker images and your Vagrant boxes. It becomes the system of record."

Binary repository managers store binary artifacts and the metadata that describes them in a defined directory structure. Like its closest competitor, Sonatype's Nexus, JFrog's Artifactory started as a Maven proxy; the first commercial version of the repository was released in 2009. The product was also one of the first cloud-based binary repository managers. The company recently passed the 1,400-paying-customer mark. With today's announcement, the company is claiming to have created a new category "that reflects JFrog's unique commitment to enable faster software releases through the first platform-agnostic approach to storing and sharing binary artifacts."

Binary repositories are rapidly emerging as a critical part of the industry response to the new challenges of polyglot programming. "Companies both old and new live in a polyglot world today and tend to use a wide array of technologies," 451 Group analyst Donnie Berkholz said in an e-mail, "whether by design or inertia. Supporting as many repository types as possible makes a lot of sense in this environment. JFrog's approach is interesting in that they very purposefully target artifacts that are popular with developers (language-level package managers) as well as operations (Linux distribution packages). With JFrog's addition of a Docker registry, it begins to bridge this divide because we see Docker and containers in general used by both sides of the house, especially as development and ops teams begin working more closely together in a DevOps setting."

Artifactory 4 integrates with the leading continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools, including the Jenkins CI server, Atlassian's Bamboo CI, JetBrains' TeamCity build and CI server, the Gradle and Apache Maven project automation tools and the NuGet package manager for .NET, among others. It supports the enterprise with clustered high availability, support for multi-site teams, cloud availability, and "a proven security model."

Forrester analyst Kurt Bittner sees the artifact repository as an increasingly essential enterprise tool. "I usually tell customers, if you're not using an artifact repository, you should be," he said. "Many organizations have a haphazard approach to managing the binaries and the open source code they bring into their organizations. I think the growth for artifact repositories in general will come from organizations that have jumped into the world of what I'll call modern application development fairly recently, and are just learning what's involved. As awareness of the benefits of these repositories grows, so will the market."

"The amount of binaries that people are managing today is going through the roof," Frankl said. "That's what's driving the increasing demand for artifact repositories. The category didn't even exist 10 years ago."

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].