SaaS Vendor Atlassian Recruiting Partners To Help Take Its Agile Development Game To Next Level

Atlassian, a vendor of workplace collaboration software that’s popular with developers, is looking to expand its already considerable global reach by finding more partners to sell its products.

The Sydney-based vendor recently launched a campaign to recruit new channel partners focused on selling to IT departments and business teams within companies, Jose Morales, Atlassian’s head of global field operations, said in an interview with CRN earlier this week.

Atlassian, founded in 2002, is best known for JIRA, a tool for managing software development projects. The vendor focuses on Agile, a set of methods for making the software development process faster and more efficient.

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Perhaps the most unique aspect of Atlassian is that it doesn't have traditional field salespeople. The vendor, which reported $118 million in revenue last quarter and staged an IPO in December, instead generates demand for its products through savvy marketing and word of mouth in the developer community.

"As for sales, we do have people who can answer questions, but they don't negotiate pricing or hound you to do things," Morales told CRN.

Morales said the channel plays a big role in attracting customers to Atlassian, which now has more than 470 partners worldwide, most of them boutique consulting firms.

Atlassian also doesn't have a professional services team, leaving another lucrative area open to its partners. So in addition to margins from selling Atlassian software licenses, partners have plenty of other ways to make money with the vendor.

Zubin Irani, CEO at cPrime, a San Francisco-based Atlassian partner, said the vendor's lack of field sales and professional services teams is a big opportunity for the channel. "They often hand off large deals to us, and there is no channel conflict because they have no direct salespeople," he said.

Thad West, CEO of Isos Technology, a Tempe, Ariz.-based Atlassian partner, told CRN he's seen a steady stream of referrals from the vendor. "When customers have questions and need demos, they refer them to us," he said.

West said Atlassian service engagements typically include setting up JIRA staging and production environments, configuring backups, and helping customers implement software and business processes. These are often lucrative projects, he added. "These are high-level business consulting engagements," he said.

Atlassian sells software that runs in a customer's data center as well as SaaS versions accessible over the internet. Morales said many Atlassian customers run the software on Amazon Web Services, and some Atlassian partners also sell managed hosting offerings.

Though the vendor's initial focus was developers, Morales said, Atlassian has branched out with self-service help desk technology for IT departments and marketing teams. Atlassian also sells HipChat, a workplace collaboration tool, and BitBucket, a code management tool.

With more than 57,000 customers in 160 countries worldwide, Atlassian has assumed the top spot in the Agile software development project management segment. Like many software vendors looking to expand their reach, Atlassian believes it can grow much larger by leveraging the sales muscle of the channel.