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Atlassian ITSM challenges ServiceNow with DevOps focus

Cloud customers of Atlassian's Jira Service Management will get some Opsgenie incident management features included at no cost, as the vendor plans its ITSM expansion.

Atlassian's ITSM products expanded further into the territory of traditional incumbent ServiceNow this week with the launch of Jira Service Management.

Jira Service Management will replace Jira Service Desk Cloud over the next three weeks, with an automatic update for cloud customers. The new product more deeply integrates incident management features from Opsgenie without requiring cloud customers to make a separate purchase. It also fleshes out automated risk assessment and change management workflows based on the company's 2019 acquisition of the Automation for Jira no-code change management workflow tool.

In addition, Atlassian disclosed plans to add asset and configuration management features from its July acquisition of Mindville Insight in future Jira Service Management releases. That move will mark Atlassian's first serious foray into configuration management databases, another area where ServiceNow has a strong lead, according to analysts.

"This is all great incremental stuff that positions them more strongly in the ESM space," said Charles Betz, an analyst at Forrester Research who tracks enterprise service management, which includes ITSM products. Forrester's 2019 Wave report on ESM products described Atlassian's Jira Service Desk as a "strong performer" but called ServiceNow "the dominant player in the large enterprise market."

The addition of change management automation and asset management features will help boost Atlassian's competitiveness with the ITSM bellwether, provided it integrates the acquisitions well, Betz said.

"They've scored poorly on fundamental data management in the past -- they had very little, just a rudimentary little registry," Betz said. Configuration management databases have a reputation for difficult management, but "whether it's a CMDB or other repository, you need data management to track services, support teams and major configuration items. The only thing worse than having a CMDB is not having one," he added.

While ServiceNow retains its commanding lead, "it would be wise to keep a sharp eye on Atlassian, which has mind share and market share on the developer side," Betz said.

Best-of-breed vendors eat [Atlassian]'s lunch all over the map, but they have a complete end to end [ESM product line] and they're the first to get there.
Charles BetzAnalyst, Forrester Research

To that end, ServiceNow as yet doesn't have a product that directly competes with BitBucket Pipelines and core Jira issue tracking.

"Best-of-breed vendors eat [Atlassian]'s lunch all over the map, but they have a complete end-to-end [ESM product line] and they're the first to get there," Betz said.

Atlassian ITSM looks to ride DevOps trends

Despite Atlassian's plan to discontinue sales of its Server licenses in 2021 and end support for those products in 2024, there will be Server and Data Center versions of Jira Service Management available in the coming weeks.

However, the vendor's strategic shift in focus toward cloud products remains in force with this release, as Jira Service Desk Cloud customers will get Opsgenie features such as major incident management in the free plan, while on-premises customers must purchase an Opsgenie license separately, according to an Atlassian FAQ.

The vast majority of Jira Service Desk Cloud customers will receive Jira Service Management without a price increase, although volume discounts at the highest tier of Jira Service Desk Cloud Standard and Premium license tiers will decline slightly, according to Atlassian officials. They did not specify by how much.

Atlassian ITSM's cloud-first and past developer focus will constitute much of its differentiation against older ITSM vendors with a long history of on-premises products that have had to adjust to the DevOps trend, Betz said.

Atlassian Jira Service Management
Atlassian's new ITSM product, Jira Service Management, bakes in Opsgenie incident response features.

Recently founded incident management vendors, including Opsgenie, Splunk's VictorOps, PagerDuty and xMatters, were in part launched in response to perceived failures in the traditional ITIL approach to critical incidents, which was seen as too slow and bogged down in formalities around ticket processing, according to Betz.

"Information came in from other domains such as police, fire and forest services about incident response to the ITSM world via these next-gen incident management vendors," he said. Now, modern incident management practices are expanding with the proliferation of ESM products that offer IT-style help desk and incident response to legal, facilities, HR and other non-IT enterprise teams.

"An incident is an incident -- they differ in degree, but [are] all on one spectrum," Betz said. "That's why Atlassian has to ultimately integrate Opsgenie into a seamless [workflow] with Jira Service Desk."

Automated risk and change management is also increasingly popular among Agile and DevOps IT practitioners, Betz said.

"Traditional change management is very subjective, but newer tools offer a more objective change risk score judged by the system rather than by humans, similar to risk readiness scores in DevOps tools," he said. "Release readiness and change risk assessment automation are evolving into one seamless risk management step in the digital pipeline."

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