Slack Boosts Chatbot Tooling with Atlassian Partnership

Slack has persuaded Atlassian to exit the chat market, migrating Stride and Hipchat customers to its real-time communications platform in a show of force against a pair of IT giants.

Jeffrey Schwartz

July 31, 2018

3 Min Read

As Cisco and Microsoft vie against one another with competing chatbot tools that are both called Teams, Slack isn’t ready to cede the real-time, chat-based communications market it helped popularize in modern workplaces.

Slack is looking to extend its reach by teaming with Atlassian. A partnership between the two companies, announced last week, calls for Atlassian to discontinue its competing chatbot offerings called Stride and Hipchat. Atlassian launched Stride nearly a year ago to compete with Slack, but less than a year later decided it would be better to join forces.

As systems integrators and service providers seek to deliver collaboration solutions, real-time communications with chat and bots are becoming the cornerstone of the modern digital experience. In return for exiting the market and turning over the intellectual property for HipChat and Stride, Atlassian is making a small investment in Slack. Atlassian will also encourage its customers to switch to Slack and will provide migration to ease the transition.

“We knew we were taking a risk by entering an already competitive, real-time team communications market, but we were willing to do the hard work necessary to build a great product,” said Joff Redfern, Atlassian’s VP of product management, in a company blog announcing the deal. “Over the past year, however, the market in real-time communications has changed pretty dramatically. And throughout that change, one product has continued to stand out from the others: Slack.”


Joff Rodfern

Joff Rodfern

The partnership makes sense for both companies, their customers and partners, according to Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes, a research firm focused on networking, communications and collaboration.

“We see both Slack and Atlassian’s Hipchat and Stride doing well among application-development and IT teams,” Lazar said. “By acquiring the Atlassian customers and hopefully moving them to Slack, Slack not only grows its presence in those communities, but ensures that it can grow its integration with Atlassian’s application-development portfolio.”

Nevertheless, they collectively face an uphill battle from Cisco and Microsoft. whose respective Teams real-time communications tools are carried by the coattails of their respective collaboration and conferencing services.

Microsoft Teams is included with all business editions of Office 365. The company is in the process of migrating its Skype for Business online customers to the Microsoft Teams interface. Cisco WebEx Teams is also a new component offered by the company’s namesake unified communications and conferencing offering, which now all fall under the WebEx brand.

Slack introduced its namesake chatbot tool several years before either Cisco or Microsoft released their Teams offerings. Now there are 8 million active Slack users among 500,000 organizations, the company reported in May. Among those, 3 million are paying subscribers — among 70,000 customers. The partnership calls for the two companies to provide a migration path from Hipchat and Stride to Slack.

The two companies also will build more extensive integration between Slack and Atlassian’s Jira Server and Jira Cloud DevOps-oriented release management offering, which Slack said it uses for its own operations, as well as extending existing interfaces with its Trello messaging and BitBucket code and project-management platform. Both companies also are working on creating interfaces between Slack and Atlassian’s Confluence document-management suite.

“This partnership is about a joint vision of simplifying and automating the huge amount of effort that teams everywhere expend to stay aligned, coordinated, and productive,” said April Underwood, Slack’s chief product officer, in the company’s announcement.

“Slack still faces a tough battle against Cisco and Microsoft for the broad enterprise user base, but our research is showing that organizations are open to supporting multiple team collaboration apps if those apps provide value,” Nemertes’ Lazar noted. “Replacing a team collaboration app that’s tightly integrated with app [development] tools and workflows is a difficult sell in many of the companies we study.”

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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