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Alen Kipp asked me the following question on Quora: Why should companies choose Confluence software for business in 2022?
I think this is a good opportunity to summarize the state of Atlassian Confluence and compare the tool to alternatives on the market for our customers.
Let me start with a short disclaimer, though: please keep in mind that I run a software company that creates and sells add-on products (apps) for Atlassian core products. We're also one of the largest providers of services and resellers of software licenses from the Atlassian marketplace. It’s safe to assume that my view is biased. I will try my very best to give you a reasonable picture. Let’s assume you’re a good friend of mine, and I have no particular interest in convincing you or selling you anything. You know that I am that Atlassian guy. But as a good friend, you also trust me to give you an honest and helpful opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of the ecosystem. So, here we go:
TL;DR version: On-premises is the best option. Cloud is more difficult to answer, but it has a bright future. For more detailed information (as this is a little simplistic), keep reading.
If you’re looking for software to install on your own servers (called “on-premises” in the industry), Atlassian is second to none. Other relevant players have long abandoned the scene, and Atlassian is the only large player maintaining on-premises deployments. So if your company depends on hosting software itself, Atlassian is really leading the pack.
If your organization is free to choose a hosting option and you can use Cloud software, which should be the case for most smaller organizations, then there are other options. Atlassian is strongly recommended when you’re interested in versatility, lots of different use cases, and a strong and vibrant community of vendors on a marketplace trying to make a difference by providing apps for the core software. Atlassian’s strength has always been the attractive ecosystem, and that is evident in the Atlassian Cloud.
There are good alternatives these days, like Notion (good UX, versatile) and Basecamp (very affordable), especially for smaller organizations. However, in the long run, I am sure that Atlassian has a bright future. And don’t forget: all Atlassian software like Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, Trello and most of the marketplace apps are completely free for up to 10 users.
The Deployments and Their Future: Cloud (Future), Data Center (Good to Go), Server (Dead)
First off, we need to talk about deployments when you’re looking into a good answer in more detail. And although it's quite technical, to really understand my answer, it’s crucial to distinguish between on-premises (software you install in your own environment) and cloud (software hosted by the creator) like the Atlassian Cloud. Atlassian offers both.
Server Will Die. Data Center is Here to Stay (For the Time Being)
Atlassian will discontinue its Server deployment in February 2024, but customers can keep using Data Center and stay on-premises if they want to. Having all their data on-premises is a must-have for some very large and security-sensitive organizations. Atlassian will keep supporting those customers for a long time. However, this deployment option is focused on scalability and enterprise-grade security for the foreseeable future to come.
While it’s sad to hear that Atlassian is no longer innovating in the “hosted software” area, the truth is that they don’t have to. Big players like Microsoft have long abandoned the area and are fully focusing on cloud computing. Google has never really offered server-based software at all. The whole industry moved “into the cloud” years ago, and most customers did as well. So having Atlassian serve “on-premises” with an enterprise-ready solution is a reasonable upside. I assume that this will be around for quite some time, and that notion is coherent with what Atlassian are saying themselves.
Atlassian Cloud is where innovation happens, and the customers go.
If you’re already hooked on Atlassian software, and more than 200,000 customers are, Atlassian Cloud is the way to go. That’s where Atlassian has been investing for years now. That’s where all innovation takes place. That’s where app creators like ourselves invest their product research and development time. That’s where droves of customers are migrating from on-premises every day.
So if you are already convinced that Atlassian is your choice, the recommendation is to look at Cloud if you plan the future.
Atlassian Cloud in Comparison to Other Cloud Offerings: Notion, Quip, Basecamp, …
Atlassian has become a huge provider, so it’s not surprising that you hear of “Confluence”-killers here and there. Especially as a strong supporter of the software, I am often confronted by friends and partners with competing solutions. Notion is cool because it has an incredible UX, and a lot of small teams and startups rave about it. Quip is a Salesforce Confluence competitor. Basecamp is an all-in-one suite (probably less of a Confluence competitor alone).
That being said, though: I have never heard any of our German or international customers really consider any of these solutions. That obviously does not mean that they are unlikely to kill Confluence in their organization. I just can't see it happening.
I think it’s safe to bet on Atlassian Confluence Cloud in 2023.