Atlassian takes JIRA beyond the development world

There are three new editions, inlcuding one that targets non-technical business teams

Atlassian's JIRA project-tracking tool has long been a popular choice among software developers, but on Tuesday the company showed it wants to reach a broader market by releasing three new editions tailored for different audiences.

While JIRA Software retains the developer focus, promising agile best practices as defaults and deep integration with development tools, the other two extend beyond that original reach, which to date has placed the tool at about 35,000 companies, according to Atlassian.

JIRA Service Desk aims to provide a user-focused service desk for IT and other service teams.

Going further afield, JIRA Core targets non-technical business teams such as human resources, finance and marketing. An HR team could use JIRA Core to track the onboarding of employees, for instance, while a marketing team could use it to track its advertising campaigns.

"JIRA started as a way for tech teams to manage collaboration around products and the things that needed to get done," said Jay Simons, Atlassian's president. "Over time it has been pulled in other directions by many parts of the business. The big thing it's displacing is the chaos of using email and documents as ways to get people on the same page."

A year and a half in the making, the new, three-pronged approach reflects Atlassian's focus on team collaboration.

"Every team needs some way to organize tasks, activities, projects, deliverables and deadlines," Simons said.

Teams also need a place to create and share content, however, and for that purpose, Atlassian offers its Confluence tool. For chat and communication, there's the company's HipChat product.

"Those are the three legs of the team-collaboration 'stool' that Atlassian provides," Simons said.

Though it's based in Australia, Atlassian is reportedly planning a U.S. IPO before the end of this year. It's currently valued at more than $3 billion privately, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Simons declined to comment on those reports.

Among Atlassian's competitors is code-sharing service GitHub, which was recently valued at about $2 billion. Atlassian's Bitbucket service is its code-sharing counterpart, but the two differ in their targeting, Simons said.

"GitHub has built an incredible reputation as a consumer service," he said. "We've built an incredible reputation for professional teams."

Atlassian is also set apart from many of its peers by the fact that it has never used a sales force to sell its products. Rather, word is spread among teams within a company via internal education, Simons said.

"We invest a lot in R&D because we believe the product should be able to sell itself," he said. "We offer it for free to try, and the experience we've invested in building kind of walks you through it. There's not a lot more that a salesperson would do."

IPO questions aside, recruiting will be one of Atlassian's biggest challenges over the upcoming year. "We're adding a lot of people to the business," Simons said.

The company currently employs about 1,500.

JIRA Software and JIRA Core are now available starting at $10 per month. JIRA Service Desk is now available starting at $10 for up to three agents.

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Katherine Noyes

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