Analyst: Jay Lyman
Israel-based JFrog backs the open source Artifactory repository management software, where it finds audience with both application developers and IT operations teams.
Its positioning between these two parties managing one of their common challenges in software artifacts and binaries places JFrog at the crux of the devops trend that is pulling development and IT operations together. While its Artifactory software and repository management remain somewhat unique in the industry, we see a growing list of competing vendors and categories, particularly as more development and operations center on cloud computing.
The 451 Take
JFrog and its repository management software benefit from their unique position at the crossroads of software developers and IT operations, or dev! ops, where the two come together primarily for speed and efficiency. JFrog's early all-in bet on the Jenkins continuous integration server, a fork of the Oracle-owned Hudson, appears to be paying off as the market continues to favor Jenkins. Looking ahead, it will be critical for JFrog to differentiate itself as other vendors and categories cross more over into competition. Also key will be JFrog's ability to integrate and grow with PaaS offerings in the market, but we expect we will see the company consistently here.
JFrog, based in Netanya, Israel, backs the Artifactory binary repository management software, which is open source under the LGPLv3 license. The company was founded in 2008 by its current CEO Shlomi Ben Haim, its current CTO Yoav Landman and current Chief Architect Frederic Simon, all of whom haved worked in the Java and open source communities together. JFrog has about 16 employees, most of whom are engineers, and plans to have a h! eadcount of about 40 by the end of 2012. The company launched ! its first paid product Artifactory Pro at the end of 2009, starting with some key, large customers including LinkedIn and Netflix. Today, JFrog reports almost 250 paying customers and its binary repository management software running on the same number of servers. JFrog says it is currently considering venture capital investment options, but is well funded from its own income and angel investment from its launch.
JFrog's Artifactory product manages binary repositories as software moves through development to testing and quality-assurance and eventually to deployment. The software sits as a proxy between other development tools used in managing software repositories and continous integration, such as Apache Ant and Maven build automation, Ivy dependency manager and Gradle project automation. Artifactory caches software artifacts so repeated downloading is not necessary. Artifactory also blocks unwanted or external requests for internal repository artif! acts, controlling how, where and by whom artifacts are deployed. This helps to manage artifacts and third-party dependencies used by developes and IT operations, which can also share repositories among different departments or teams using Artifactory. The Artifactory software itself is built on the Java Content Repository, which helps support high concurrency and data integrity, the company says. Artifactory's underlying storage, which is backup ready, also supports the attachment of searchable XML metadata and user-defined properties via JFrog's OpenMetadata technology. The software features granular permission controls that can be managed through a simple UI.
JFrog offers its Artifactory repository management software in two versions, Pro and Cloud. Artifactory Pro is an annual subscription that includes a set of paid add-ons bundled with the open source software. The Pro version, priced at $2,350 per year, includes updates, full maintenance and bug fixes as well as a growing list of add-ons for continuous integration server support, resource management, license control, search and other capabilities that go along with the repository management. The cloud version, Artifactory Online, is the same offering in SaaS form with SLA support. Users can quickly set up private repositories using the service without the typical requirements of configuring and customizing a server and access.
The newest version of the software, Artifactory 2.6, is expected in the second quarter of 2012 and is focused on customizable release management. Much of this centers on extending Artifactory management beyond pre-staging to encompass more of the software release process. The idea is to speed the time between software testing and release by maintaining consistency and manageability of software repositories.
JFrog reports that the use and proliferation of cloud computing has resulted in an enterprise software release process that requires the management of software binaries and repositories much earlier in the effort. This coincides with the trend of devops, which demands that developers and IT operations work closer together and consider each others' roles and responsibilities more thoughtfully. JFrog says that while binaries are closely tracked through testing and QA phases, they can quickly get lost once code hits production. Thus, Artifactory i! s aimed at supporting that move of software to production. JFrog says it is gaining traction with Artifactory Online because of a move by major players, including SpringSource, to put more of their development and support in the cloud.
Artifactory also integrates with a key devops technology: continous integration servers, including Bamboo , TeamCity and Jenkins. JFrog is also benefiting from its decision to support Jenkins, which is a fork of the Hudson continuous integration server from Oracle. While we saw the market supporting both servers last year, it appears there is more momentum and vitality for Jenkins currently and this appears to be contributing to traction for JFrog.
Another part of JFrog's current growth centers on its focus on application programming interfaces (APIs), which have emerged as critical for promoting communities around connectors and plug-ins. JFrog stresses the importance of giving its users and customers a stable, documented API along with examples. JFrog also highlights that APIs are a sort of common language between software developers and IT operations teams, which both work closely with APIs to make things work.
Finally, JFrog is also adding more support for .Net and the Windows world, particularly with its recently-added support for NuGet, a .Net package manager. Through an add-on, Artifactory can support and proxy NuGet packages for Visual Studio .Net applications. This is significant as we see .Net and Windows catching up in devops after trailing to mostly Linux and open source programming frameworks and languages the previous few years.
Integrations and partnership
Artifactory is commonly deployed alongside other key devops technologies, including the continuous integration servers such as Bamboo and Jenkins as well as server automation frameworks such as Chef and Puppet. The Artifactory software also works with a range of other development tools in dependency management, build and project automation and other areas. JFrog also partners with CloudBees, a PaaS provider that is centered on the Jenkins CI server.
Its work in Java and Apach! e means that JFrog is competing mostly with Sonatype, backer of the Apache Maven and its own Nexus repository management software. While JFrog supported the Jenkins fork of the Hudson CI server last year, Sonatype remained supportive of Hudson. This continues to be the case today and while the market does seem to be favoring Jenkins, the fact that Oracle still backs Hudson may intensify the competition from Sonatype. Another category of competitors comes from the code vetting and management world, where vendors such as Black Duck continue to extend further into the development process. Other competitors here include OpenLogic, Palamida and Protecode. Another area that may represent more competition for JFrog going forward is cloud monitoring and management. For example, Electric Cloud is a cloud automation and devops vendor that includes artifact management in its offerings. JFrog must also compete with use of other open source software for repository management, such as th! e Apache Archiva repository manager.
JFrog and its Artifactory repository management software sit at the crux of the growing devops trend in its technology and support for both software developers and IT operations.
The company remains somewhat obscure and is lesser known than other vendors in the small but growing devops space.
The growth of devops practices and processes among both newer, Web 2.0 type users and more mainstream enterprises could provide more than enough fuel for JFrog's growth.
Other vendors, particularly those dealing with software development and deployment in the cloud, are increasingly offering similar repository managemenet features and capabilities.