Small businesses will spend nearly $602 billion on IT software and services this year. If it wasn’t already clear how important (and expensive) software is, that number should seal it. When small and midsize businesses (SMBs) invest in software, the last thing they want is for that software to change. That’s why some users of Atlassian’s software tools were shocked to learn last month that its communications apps—Hipchat and Stride—will shut down soon.
Back in late July, Atlassian shared plans to sell its intellectual property for Hipchat and Stride to Slack. Over the next year, Atlassian will discontinue Hipchat and Stride while migrating users to the Slack platform.
Slack CEO Steward Butterfield announced the Atlassian deal in a stream of bullish tweets:
There are several components, all aligned around cementing the partnership and, most importantly, taking some big steps together to drive fundamental improvements in the experience of the millions of people around the world who are using our products together every single day.
— Stewart Butterfield (@stewart) July 26, 2018
But not all of Atlassian’s customers agreed with the sunny outlook. In fact, a few vocal users shared their anger in Atlassian’s forums:
Some users weren’t happy about the news and let the internet know (Source)
This partnership between Atlassian and Slack poses two key business challenges for users:
1. Teams can no longer sign up for Stride
One year after launching Stride as a competitor to Slack, the former is dead in the water. As of last month when Slack announced its partnership with Atlassian, you don’t have the option to sign up for Stride.
This makes it unviable for new Atlassian users that need a chat tool. Stride’s old pricing page announces the partnership and encourages prospects to sign up for Slack.
An announcement letting Atlassian users know Hipchat will soon be discontinued (Source)
Stride is well-liked among users. Reviews on GetApp praise its ability to pass on code snippets, ask for voter approval on specific messages, and upload files (among other features). As of publication, Stride held a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 70 reviews.
2. You can keep adding users in Stride and Hipchat Cloud until February 2019
Although you can’t sign up for Stride if you’ve never used the tool, it won’t disappear right away and neither will Hipchat.
Stride and Hipchat Cloud will both stay installable until Feb. 15, 2019, the end-of-life date for both tools. Hipchat Server and Hipchat Data Center will stay installable until their end-of-life date on June 22, 2019. These dates leave users with six months and 10 months (respectively) to migrate to Slack or other apps.
3. You can export your archived chats in Hipchat and Stride
If you don’t need to export your data from Hipchat Cloud or Hipchat Server/Data Center, you can start using Slack right away. If you do need to export data, you can use Atlassian’s documentation as a guide.
What is exported from Hipchat, and what isn’t (Source)
If you use Hipchat Server, Data Center, and/or Cloud, you can export your data now. Atlassian won’t share details on how to export data from Stride until mid-August. However, Atlassian shared that Hipchat and Stride users will be able to export archived chats.
4. Hipchat Data Center and Hipchat Server customers can use these tools until their licenses expire
Of all Atlassian users, those who use Hipchat’s on-premise tools will be most affected.
Slack dominates the real-time communications app space. It also doesn’t offer an on-premise option and hasn’t indicated that it plans to build one. This leaves Hipchat’s on-premise customers who can’t use cloud-based tools with few alternatives.
If you use Hipchat Data Center and Hipchat Server, you can keep using them until your licenses expire. Atlassian promises customer support for both tools until then. If you use either tool, you should speak with your point-of-contact at Atlassian to confirm what will happen if you don’t migrate your data before your license expires.
5. Atlassian will offer a migration path to Slack for all customers…
Atlassian pledges in its FAQs that “We will have a small, dedicated team supporting our customers on both Stride and Hipchat through the transition.”
However, we don’t know what that support will look like. Atlassian follows its pledge to support customers with this statement: “We will provide a preferred migration path to Slack to all customers to ensure a smooth and simple transition.”
The Atlassian page prompting users to migrate to Slack (Source)
It’s unclear if Atlassian will provide consulting services for on-premise customers who can’t use Slack. That said, we can make an educated guess that this is unlikely, and prospective customers are taking note.
“We do not believe the migration of existing customers to Slack is guaranteed,” says Mike Gotta, a research VP for collaboration and social software at Gartner. “We see more inquiries of Mattermost, and Teams continues to grow in popularity.”
6. …and won’t develop a new internal chat tool
Stride was Atlassian’s attempt to enter the real-time communications apps market. Because Slack is dominant in this market, Atlassian won’t build a separate tool to compete with Slack. Additionally, Stride’s product team won’t make major updates to the tool other than bug fixes.
Instead, Atlassian encourages users to build internal chat tools using Slack’s API. You can find documentation to help you get started on Slack’s website.
7. Expect tighter integrations between Slack and Atlassian’s project management software
A screenshot of the Trello bot within Slack (Source)
“Today, there are Atlassian built and supported integrations with Slack for Jira Cloud, Trello and Bitbucket Cloud. Building on the success of these existing integrations, we will co-develop tighter native integrations between our products.”
In other words, the resources that Atlassian would’ve spent improving Hipchat and Stride will go toward improving integrations between Slack and Atlassian’s project management apps. This will encourage project teams to incorporate a collaboration app (Slack) into their project management workflows.
“Slack customers are largely not going to view this announcement as a significant event,” Gotta told GetApp. “There is no real change in product capabilities other than a promise of improved future integration with Atlassian products.”
8. What this means for the future of software
Atlassian’s choice to shut down Stride and Hipchat to improve integrations between Slack and its own project management software is shocking, but not surprising. Three trends in project management have brought us to this point.
Project management = business management
Project management is more business-driven than ever before. Even more technical project teams must go beyond finishing sprints on time and under budget. Today’s pace of business—which moves faster than ever—demands that these projects enhance the business strategy.
As a result, project managers must also excel at people management. When project teams and stakeholders increase, the need to communicate increases as well. GetApp research consistently shows that project managers cite increased communication and collaboration as some of the biggest benefits they gain from using software.
Project teams will need to build their own app stacks
This need for more communication brings us to the trend of building unique app stacks. April Underwood, Slack’s VP of Product, said as much when Slack announced its deal with Atlassian:
“This deeper partnership exemplifies our shared belief that the world of enterprise software is moving to a model in which people are building their own technology stack with the highly specialized, interoperable tools that best suit their needs. Atlassian is doubling down on its extremely successful suite of products for IT, as Slack cements its position as the hub for all kinds of work – an open platform that serves as one interface where an entire company’s tools, knowledge, and human capital come together.”
No matter what kind of projects your team works on, using one tool—or even one suite of tools—is no longer enough. As software companies like Atlassian grow, they must choose where to direct their product and engineering resources. Rather than building in-house tools which might not gain high market traction, vendors will look at which integrations have the highest user model.
This renewed focus means that project management teams should prepare to build their own app stacks. As the project leader, you’ll need to look beyond project management software to see which tools excel at which tasks. Then, you’ll need to build your project team’s own unique suite of cloud-based apps that integrate with each other.
Cloud software is here to stay
That brings us to the third trend: Cloud software’s continued rise. It’s understandable why Hipchat’s on-premise customers are upset by this move: They’re left with few alternatives. Even if they’re able to start using Slack, the cost to do so will increase.
At the same time, Atlassian’s choice isn’t isolated. Gartner research (available to clients) finds that software spending keeps shifting toward SaaS products. This is due to increased focus on digital business and customer service.
Even industries that historically use on-premise software have spent the last few years moving to cloud tools. One reason? Using numerous tools that don’t integrate with each other leads to unnecessary delays.
Atlassian told GetApp that hundreds of thousands of teams—and millions of users—have downloaded Atlassian integrations into Slack. With numbers that high, it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in tools like Hipchat’s on-premise options.
For these reasons, on-premise software is on its way out. The long-term benefits (better integrations, customized app stacks, and increased collaboration) of cloud migration will, hopefully, help teams work more efficiently.
But businesses that are slow to adopt face a short-term challenge: Disparate data that lives in separate tools. One of Hipchat and Stride’s strongest selling points was the fact that they worked with Atlassian’s other tools. If a move to Slack is off the table, SMBs that can’t use the cloud risk falling behind their competitors.
“The options for on-premise options dwindles year by year,” Gotta says. “Mattermost is probably going to benefit for those wanting an on premises version similar to Hipchat.”
How does Slack stack up to Mattermost?