Tag Archives: Confluence

The Musicians of Atlassian

One of the great things here at Atlassian is we have some wonderful musicians. Here’s a window into this side of Atlassian life.

Matt Ryall, Soren Harner, and Jed Wesley-Smith playing

Matt Ryall, Soren Harner, and Jed Wesley-Smith playing in Sydney

Soren Harner runs all our software development. He also runs marathons. Somehow he finds time to be an incredible guitarist and what really pisses me off is he has a voice that makes women rip their clothes off. I have not actually seen women do this. I have, however, seen women consider it. Soren also makes playing music seem so natural and easy. He is one of those guys who knows 325 songs and can start singing one standing on his head. Or perhaps under pressure, with a gun held to his head for example (and with a woman ripping her clothes off). You get the point: this guy is talented.

We have considered shipping Soren MP3s with some of our new product releases, but you know the famous Software Company Problem: not enough time to do all the new feature requests. So his fans must wait. I am one of those fans.

Boots Wang

Boots Wang

Boots Wang is in Technical Sales and is clearly the coolest musician at Atlassian. Being cool might be easy to do around a bunch of nerdy engineers who clip their nails at their desk in Sydney, but it’s not so easy to do in San Francisco. Boots wears hats you wish you owned. Boots name is even cool. Boots is in bands with cool names: “Nobody Beats” was one. Boots reeks Cool-dom, Coolness, Coolio-Feng-Shui.

To make matters even more cool, she is a drummer. When I went to music school, all the women played flutes or sang arias and danced in the moonlight. They were pussies. Boots, however, throws down. She hits stuff. She is our only drummer, and I bow down to Her Wicked, Bitchin’ Coolness.

Matt Ryall

Matt Ryall

Matt Ryall is a Confluence developer and a guitarist. Matt plays acoustic mostly and is the kind of guy who sings folks songs to women to get his way with them. I suspect he is extremely successful. You know: an Emo-kind-of-guy. The kind of guy that writes poems.

Matt is also one of those people who has natural musical abilities. My guess is he never practices. But somehow he whips out some John Mayer song and sounds great. He also lends me his guitar when I am in Sydney, which is terrific of him. Natural software engineer, natural musician.

Jed Wesley-Smith and me

Jed Wesley-Smith and me

Jed Wesley-Smith is a JIRA developer and a bass player. You non-musicians may not realize how essential it is to have a bass player. I can’t tell you how many bands are searching for bass players. That’s because only weird people play bass. Bass players are famous for lacking social skills. The bass is the Supreme Understated Instrument. It’s takes a certain Zen quality. Type-A, ADD, Hyper-active people like me cannot play bass. Mellow Dudes play bass, and Jed is an extremely mellow guy.

Jed is also a phenomenal musican. While some of us have played professionally, Jed has played concerts where people scream and dance until they have heart attacks or over-dose on something. Jed is also one of those rare white guys who can spell FUNK. Jed is a seriously funky player. Playing music with Jed is a pure joy.

Taras Naumenko

Taras Naumenko

Taras Naumenko is on the Customer Service team in San Francisco. He’s in another league from the rest of us musicians because he not only went to music school, but he plays Classical guitar. The rest of play music to drink by. Taras plays serious shit. Taras, however, is full of surprises.

One day we were jamming in the office, and Taras starts playing “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now I bet Yo-Yo Ma never played that. How many classical musicians play music from a band that shoots heroin? Anyway, Taras taught it to me, so he’s a real Stand-up Guy.



Morgan Friberg

Morgan Friberg

Morgan Friberg is on our marketing team in S.F. and is the one Real Professional musician in the company. Morgan gigs regularly. In fact, his band, Arcadio has a website, they record regularly, and they even have Arcadio beer cozies, for Godssake. Morgan also plays multiple instruments: guitar, mandolin, ukele, and I suspect more.

Some day I’m going to come to work, and Morgan won’t be there because he was discovered and he hit the Big Time. I will buy every CD. I will even jump in the mosh pit.

Most of us Atlassian musicians are mere mortals. Then there is Jay Simons. Jay runs our marketing. He runs marathons. He does triathalons. He races in serious bike races for laughs. Jay does everything Full-Tilt. He is a spectacular piano player and has an incredible voice. In Jay’s case I am certain women rip their clothes off when he sings. Men might, for that matter. Jay is so talented, his dog is talented. Jay is also very funny and almost as funny as me.

Jay Simons

Jay Simons

If software ceased to exist as a profession, some of us could go be professional musicians. But we would be end up playing in bars where people drink too much and have fights. Jay, on the other hand, would be playing cocktail piano at the fanciest hotel in town, dressed in a tuxedo, sipping a martini while women ripped their clothes off. Jay is Pro all the way.

For those musicians out there with some Software Chops, you might want to someday consider joining Atlassian. We need a bass player in S.F. badly, a drummer in Sydney, horn players, perhaps a great conga player… Oh, you get the point.

A Different Kind of Software Company: What Matters: Three Lessons

Getting in touch with my Inner Jazz

Getting in touch with my Inner Jazz

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Vinnie Mirchandani, fellow Enterprise Irregular was gracious to invite me to guest blog reflecting on Atlassian hitting a new milestone: $100 million in all-time sales since inception. It’s not about the milestone, as reaching 14,706 customers as of today is more fulfilling. It’s about creating a different kind of software company.

Vinnie asked me what’s been fun about the journey, and truthfully I failed and wrote this more serious, reflective post. I was able to scrounge up this photo from our last Christmas party which has become a mini-tradition where our San Francisco team enjoys great live jazz, sushi, and a few too many martinis. `

At Atlassian, we talk about creating something different. Not for the sake of it. Because we’re never convinced norms should be accepted. Even our own could change. At the risk of simplification, these are my Three Deep Lessons I have internalized over 3.5 years in this company.

1. Open Up Your Company.

Why do software companies hide prices? Why must I call a sales person to get them? Why must I fill out an order form to get a goddamned PDF of half-baked content? Why don’t more companies treat customers with respect and develop trust through openness? Sounds straightforward, but this is the cat-and-mouse game that enterprise software companies persist in.

We think open pricing, open license terms, open bug and issue tracking of our products, and licensing our source code are what people, like us, want. We ask ourselves: would we buy this crap? How do you want to be treated? That’s a good test for how transparent you are.

2. Affordable Prices

Mike Cannon-Brookes pounds on the table regularly about the price of entry. He is always trying to figure out how to make it easy for the next developer, the next IT manager, the next knowledge worker to not hesitate. Once we have a product we would use, then we have a fist fight over keeping the prices low. The low price principle was more striking when I met these two guys…

Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar

Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar


… as they were, let’s say, frugal Aussies. They had that shining spirit from Down Under which is an authentic Aussie practicality that was refreshingly unconventional in Silicon Valley. Funny thing is: even though the founders are no longer quite so frugal, our prices have rarely changed. Keep your prices low, Mister Software Man.

3. Anal-Retentive Analytics and Metrics

Scott Farquhar is our Super Metrics Warrior. Scott got us measuring Net Promoter Score (still running around 52%). Scott pounds on the table for so much detail and facts about the business, people leave the room dizzy and frustrated because they are starting to realize what they don’t know.

We don’t have the systems and analytics yet to measure up to some great large companies, but for a $40 million/year business with 185 employees, we’ve pretty damn good. We analyze the shit out of everything. We are constantly writing queries and dashboards on our internal Confluence wiki. This is our form of Lighting Business Intelligence, without any traditional BI software overhead. It’s also one of the hidden gems in our wiki.

Every team has a dashboard, but more important, every team is pissed their dashboard isn’t better. Continually unhappy with the gaps in our data, and searching for that Last Shaker of Metrics, we are on a Forced March for more data. This is a Mission from God I am still learning.

I could rant on about what we think a different kind of software company should be, because we’re still not there. We’re trying though.

RELATED POSTS

Susan Scrupski, another of the Enterprise Irregular clan, covered this milestone and trumped everyone with a video of Mike and Scott from Sydney.

Tech Nation Australia also interviewed Mike on the milestone.

Is Agile Development Only for Nerds?

Eskander Matta

Eskander Matta

This man says, “No.” So what? He may look a little nerdy but he is a Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank and using agile development techniques, he has dramatically reduced the time to develop new products for Wells Fargo’s online business.

 
What’s the big deal? Eskander Matta is not a software developer, and he is not in the IT department. Eskander is a banking executive, with a Harvard MBA, who thinks traditional development methodologies are impediments to building new online products faster and better. Eskander believes, “There is so much innovation in Financial Services that speed to market is critical. A lengthy linear process inhibits one’s ability to compete.”

Eighteen months ago, Eskander got a group of bank employees together to take a meat cleaver to a development cycle that had 26 artifacts (think: pieces of documentation). His goal was to remove all artifacts that had no downstream consumer. “If no one is going to read it, then get rid of it”, he asked the team. The team whacked the process down to 5 artifacts. Then equally important, all this was enabled with a wiki.

As is most often the case, Eskander, the business guy, asked the IT dept what wiki to use. The IT guys told him to use Confluence.

By underpinning everything with the wiki, communication and interaction between people was enabled. “If the wiki was a static word document, it wouldn’t have worked”, Eskander points out. The wiki enabled collaboration in a more formal sense.

What’s so interesting is…

  • A business executive took the leadership to streamline development using Agile Development concepts.
  • The outcome was fantastic: 26 development artifacts reduced to 5.
  • The result ended up on one collaborative work space on a wiki.
  • All this was in service of a major bank producing new online products faster.

Granted, Financial Services is largely an information business, this sector is the biggest spender on IT, and in this instance, the product was the Internet. Yet, this story is compelling evidence that there are other executives out there who understand what technology can do, who seek best practices like Agile Development, and who seek out the newest collaborative technologies.

Why Go to an Atlassian User Group?

This Thursday I’ll be at Atlassian’s Boston User Group, and speaking at Enterprise 2.0. Why User groups? Lessons and tips youu can learn. Here’s one, almost fantastic, example of what I learned from our German customers in Frankfurt a week ago. Vodafone’s CEO using our enterprise wiki, Confluence was cool, but well… you decide.

This is the knowledge management team at Deutsche Bahn (DB), the 240,000 employee German railway.

Pretty intense looking bunch. They focus on spreading collaboration across Deutsche Bahn. Although they look a little intimidating — “I’m gonna kick your collaboration ass” flashes through my brain — they do it with a lot of humor, internal marketing, and — is there such a thing? — wacky German good fun.

Marvin the robot from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is their mascot. Why? Because he has a brain the size of a planet, and he rarely get to use it. They made him as real as possible. He has an email address, a phone number, a blog, and yes, a C.V.

To motivate employees to contribute, every year the team has the 42nd Marvin Awards for great contributions to knowledge. Why 42? You really shouldn’t ask; it’s the answer to everything in the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

And they give out Golden Marvins. Of course.

The team also has a clear metric and goal: of the 240,000 employees, 80,000 are online, and they figure getting 40,000 using the wiki, Confluence, is success. Currently the count is 15,000. Particularly interesting, the users include many non-IT people, including engineering and maintenance. Given the reputation of the German railway, this was my favorite bit.

Hope to see you at the next user group.

David Kisses Goliath: Confluence Connects to Microsoft SharePoint

confluence-embedded-sp-2.png

  • We’ve integrated Confluence with Microsoft SharePoint. We found Microsoft incredibly like-minded in solving a huge customer problem.

    Last June when meeting with customers and analysts, SharePoint came up in every meeting. “We have growing groups who love the wiki, and long standing users of Microsoft and now SharePoint. Help!”, customers asked, including Geoff Corb, IT Director at Johns Hopkins University.

    When Microsoft approached us to ask us to integrate, it made perfect sense. Then the hard part started: we had to put some engineering muscle behind it. We found Microsoft wanting to solve the same problem: remove friction between our technologies. And we found Microsoft easy to work with. Their product managers and engineers and ours even got Accenture on the phone to test out the requirements. Accenture is a partner of both our companies, and a large user of Confluence, so their feedback was important.

    Why did we do choose to do this? Foremost, to bridge groups of workers who prefer to work in different ways with different technology. Customers have multiple domains of work: wikis, office document/email, document management, blogs, IM, and more, yet want to use the best technologies.

    As a software company, Atlassian also did this because Microsoft was motivated, and we expect other partnerships like this in the future, so Confluence is more open. Although Confluence has an open architecture and now rather large plugin library, we have not focused, until now on larger partnerships.

    Today, we release the SharePoint Connector for Confluence which is by far the deepest integration of any wiki with SharePoint, and is a testament to the connectivity of the .Net and Java platforms. The Connector is available today with:

    • Search: Users can search SharePoint and Confluence content together from one place.
    • Content sharing: From within SharePoint, users can embed Confluence page contents allowing users to blend content.
    • Linking: Within Confluence, users can access SharePoint document facilities. By including SharePoint lists and content within Confluence, users, in a single click, can edit Microsoft Office documents.
    • Single Sign-On and Security: With one login, users can access both systems while seeing only what they have permission to view.

    It didn’t escape us that Microsoft asked us with our Java product to integrate with SharePoint. I can only take that as a complement, and a recognition of our customer base.

    Updates and Further Reading

    • Robert Scoble visited to video Mike and me, and blogged it, ” Why do that? After all, Sharepoint has its own wiki service? Cause Atlassian’s is better and Microsoft’s customers were asking it to support Atlassian’s.”
    • Richard McManus covered the partnerships with Atlassian and NewsGator.
    • Dan Farber and Dennis Howlett gave it ZDnet coverage with Dennis having his often interesting edge.
    • Mike wrote the most insightful post about the risks and tensions inherent in deciding to do this partnership.
    • And the feature tour is here, and the sufficiently reviewed 🙂 press release.
  • The Benchmark for Corporate Wikis?

    Sun Microsystems may set the benchmark for large corporations using blogging. Now Sun is trying to do the same with wikis.sun.com which makes it fast and simple for all employees to get up and running collaborating on a wiki. Excuse me, on Atlassian Confluence, I should say. Which is an honor given Sun’s wonderful ambition.

    Linda Skrocki posted this Sun video today and aside from being long at six minutes [it would kill at three minutes!], it’s an awesome example of how one company is evolving communication.

    I dig the 80’s music. The Aussies will think it’s contemporary. 🙂

    Atlassian User Group: Palo Alto

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    It is a sad day in Mudville: We are not interviewing Paris Hilton at the User Group, and we are not giving away free iPhones. If you can get over that…

    Stanford University is the idyllic setting for our First Inaugural Bay Area User Group. The spine-tingling, white-knuckle highlights include:

    • Customers presenting a variety of case studies from Sony, Apple, and Polycom
    • Scott Farquhar, founder and CEO
    • Chris Kohlhardt demoing the groovy Gliffy plugin to Confluence
    • … and more!

    Oh and lest I forget: Beer! And the venerable, Collectors Item: Atlassian T-Shirts, for which folks have been known to sacrifice their first born. The T-shirts are exceedingly more popular than iPhones, we have discovered.

    And rumor has it that in attendance will be a few of the Enterprise Irregulars. You heard it here first.

    RSVP here.