Diving into DevOps

Atlassian Striding Toward 'After Agile'

"We're asking, what's the next step? How does Agile evolve? How do we extend the reach of enterprise teamwork?"

Software development and collaboration tools provider Atlassian launched a major rebranding campaign at its annual user conference in San Jose, Calif., last week, and unveiled the Stride workplace messaging platform, its first new product since becoming a public company.

The Stride announcement and a bushel basket of shiny new logos for the company's growing catalog of products (many updates and integrations of which were announced at the show), grabbed headlines this year. But what caught my eye was the company's steadily evolving DevOps strategy.

Atlassian began dipping its toe into the DevOps waters in earnest when it joined DevOps Express as a founding member last September. Since then, the company has found itself neck-deep in the trend. "In the 12 years I have been with the company, our mission hasn't really changed," Jens Schumacher, who leads the Software Teams Business group at Atlassian, told me at the time, "We want to empower teams. We started with software teams, and now we are expanding into other teams. But everything we do is around collaboration."

It wasn't long before the company was making the argument that the Atlassian tool stack and ecosystem support a collaborative DevOps environment. It even published a "How Atlassian Does DevOps" page on the company Web site.

"The thing you have to remember about DevOps," Schumacher told me during a pre-lunch break at this year's Summit, "is that it is a first step that gets the entire team involved. It's an important step; as we move to the cloud, especially, running a service becomes more than just the operations team's job, because the development team has such a big impact there. It's often that they have to be a part of running that service. So getting the communication between operations and developers is really important."

For Atlassian, it always comes down to the team, but what it means to be a team is changing, Schumacher said.

"So much is changing around software development," he said. "With the cloud, you have team sizes changing. Now you build microservices instead of big applications, and the frequency of shipping changes -- even what it means to release or deploy software changes."

"Our mission is to find ways to help teams collaborate better," Schumacher said. "We apply that mission to focus on software teams. DevOps is the first step, but then you need to get the designer involved, the analyst, the project manager, security, performance, QA. There are people specializing in different areas that are just as important as the core development team. I think that's what we've missed for a long time. Just as DevOps helps the dev and ops teams to communicate better, now we have to extend that to the entire software team."

Which is where Stride comes in. The company took a bold step (pardon the pun) with the introduction of this successor to its own well-liked HipChat workplace messaging app, and an instant competitor with the enormously popular Slack -- the creators of which held their first ever user conference in San Francisco just days after the Atlassian Summit.

Stride's features -- messaging, voice, and video chat in a single interface, along with some workflow management tools that makes message threads more actionable -- also puts the product up against traditional conferencing tools.

"We've been doing a lot of thinking, internally, about how we can support teams and embrace what [Atlassian CEO and co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes] calls "diversity of thought." A designer thinks very differently about a problem than a developer does. It's getting those two together in a room, thinking about the same problem that unleashes the real power of a software team. It's not just about getting developers to move faster. I think we're moving away from this to focus on doing the right things. You can move really fast in the wrong direction."

"Internally, we're calling it 'After Agile,'" he added. "We're asking, what's the next step? How does Agile evolve? How do we extend the reach of enterprise teamwork?"

Atlassian has been working on Stride for more than a year and plans to offer it as a SaaS for the foreseeable future. The company says it will continue to support Hipchat while encouraging its users to move to Stride. It plans to offer a free version of Stride with unlimited users, but with limited message history. Unlimited storage and better video tools will be available for $3 per user, the company said.

About the Author

John has been covering the high-tech beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly two decades. He serves as Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends (www.ADTMag.com) and contributes regularly to Redmond Magazine, The Technology Horizons in Education Journal, and Campus Technology. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Everything Guide to Social Media; The Everything Computer Book; Blobitecture: Waveform Architecture and Digital Design; John Chambers and the Cisco Way; and Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide.

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