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CloudBees' acquisition of Electric Cloud broadens focus

CloudBees folds in Electric Cloud and pledges to broaden its focus beyond Jenkins, while customers wait and see how that might impact long-term roadmap plans.

CloudBees' acquisition of release automation vendor Electric Cloud is a move that indicates DevOps industry consolidation is nigh.

The deal, which was revealed this week but actually closed earlier this month, adds Electric Cloud's 110 employees to the CloudBees team. About a third of CloudBees customers also use Electric Cloud, according to company estimates.

CloudBees' buy might set off DevOps consolidation wave

CloudBees intends to branch out beyond Jenkins through Electric Cloud, which integrates with other CI/CD pipeline tools, as well as IT monitoring and infrastructure automation. It also offers its own approach to continuous application deployment. Electric Cloud specializes in enterprise governance over CI/CD pipelines and DevOps deployments, an area CloudBees is keen to expand with version 3.0 of its CloudBees software, formerly called CloudBees Core. Electric Cloud IP integration will speed the delivery of that release in 2019.

"We will focus on software delivery management, unifying fragmented islands of software delivery," said Sacha Labourey, CloudBees CEO. "Electric Cloud offers us the best possible depth of support for CI/CD, especially for traditional applications."

DevOps maturity among enterprises was part of the impetus for CloudBees' acquisition of Electric Cloud, Labourey said.

CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey Sacha Labourey

"It used to be we were having intellectual conversations in the industry about DevOps and digital transformation," Labourey said. "Now customers are more in the trenches trying to solve things."

CloudBees and Electric Cloud won't be the last point of consolidation for DevOps tools in 2019, according to a "Predictions 2019" report issued in November 2018 by Forrester Research. As fewer firms cobble together their own DevOps toolchains, it forces players from multiple spaces to compete. For example, continuous integration vendors such as CircleCI and CloudBees will go head-to-head with continuous delivery and release automation specialists such as CA Automic and XebiaLabs, both Electric Cloud competitors.

"As sexy and cutting edge as CI/CD tooling is, it's still a relatively immature and small market, compared, for example, to enterprise service management, or even monitoring," said Charles Betz, analyst at Forrester and co-author of the "Predictions" report. "With all the attention DevOps has garnered, and just about every IT vendor figuring out an angle, it's not surprising to see consolidation like this."

CloudBees' acquisition worries some Electric Cloud users

 Many enterprise IT pros have a love-hate relationship with Jenkins, which was known in its earlier versions to be an inflexible, difficult piece of software to manage. Given CloudBees' original focus on Jenkins, the acquisition of Electric Cloud draws mixed feelings from its customers.

As sexy and cutting edge as CI/CD tooling is, it's still a relatively immature and small market, compared, for example, to enterprise service management, or even monitoring.
Charles BetzAnalyst, Forrester

"The running joke in our group is, 'We don't speak Jenkins,'" said Gary McKay, release manager at Somos, a registry management vendor for telecommunications customers, based in East Brunswick, N.J. "Anyone using Jenkins in our dev environment is committing a cardinal sin."

It's a partial relief for McKay that CloudBees doesn't seem to want to focus Electric Cloud on Jenkins, which would be the worst-case scenario for him. But he said he's also concerned about how the change will affect Electric Cloud's executive leadership and long-term roadmap.

"My organization needs to make some strong choices here," he said, and noted that Somos is close to license renewal with Electric Cloud. "They've been going in the right directions with product enhancements like support for serverless and microservices, and they've been listening to companies like us."

Now, McKay said he's concerned that direction could change.

"I'm surprised," he said. "And I'm not sure if it's a happy surprise."

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