SmartBear Acquires Cucumber to Strengthen its Testing Toolset

SmartBear’s acquisition of Cucumber is intended to strengthen the company’s position in the software quality tools market and is another example of how vendors should address both commercial and open source audiences.

Cucumber Ltd. creates Cucumber’s open source behavior-driven development (BDD) and test automation framework. SmartBear, based in Somerville, Mass., already has a BDD product, HipTest, which it acquired last year. The addition of Cairndow, Scotland-based Cucumber strengthens the SmartBear portfolio and doubles the company’s commitment to open source.

According to the Cucumber team, BDD is an Agile software development methodology that aims to reduce unnecessary activities common in software development, such as rework caused by misunderstood or vague requirements, or slow feedback cycles caused by silos. and transfers.

SmartBear will combine Cucumber’s commercial BDD product, Jam, with the HipTest collaboration platform and develop a common product roadmap, said Ryan Lloyd, vice president of product at SmartBear. The Cucumber Jam team will join SmartBear’s HipTest team to create collaborative tools in the BDD and test space, Aslak Hellesoy, the founder of the Cucumber project, said in a blog post.

Meanwhile, Cucumber will dedicate two to three full-time people to the Cucumber open-source product, with backup support from SmartBear and an unspecified “additional investment,” which will bring “a huge increase in productivity,” Hellesoy said. .

Balance between commercial tools and open source tools

SmartBear intends to enhance HipTest with Cucumber to improve acceptance criteria, document generation and test execution, and ultimately improve collaboration efforts between Agile teams, said Theresa Lanowitz, analyst at Voke. in Minden, Nevada. “SmartBear shows that requirements, collaboration, and testing matter in the software engineering lifecycle,” she said.

SmartBear shows that requirements, collaboration and testing are important in the software engineering lifecycle.

Therese LanowitzAnalyst, Voke

For SmartBear, the Cucumber deal also reflects its desire to be seen as pro-open source and connected to DevOps-oriented testing practices, said Gartner analyst Thomas Murphy. However, “they have already invested in BDD with HipTest, so I’m not sure what that does for them strategy-wise,” he added.

The acquisition recalls SmartBear’s acquisition of Eviware in 2011 for its SoapUI and SoapUI Pro testing tools, Murphy said. SoapUI is an open source API and web services testing tool, and SoapUI Pro is the commercial version of the technology.

Most companies that try to build a business model on top of their open source component tend to struggle, Murphy said. Either they’re creating open source software that’s not as good as other options, or it’s good enough to satisfy most users’ needs, and the vendor can’t establish a strong enough market for the paid version. with added value.

Some companies have leveraged open source and built a solid commercial market – Red Hat, GitHub, and GitLab, to name a few. Other times, a larger commercial entity gobbles up open source projects with mixed results.

“Think every time Oracle buys something that’s open source. What happens? Open source bifurcates and people go a different direction,” Murphy said.

Indeed, when Microsoft bought GitHub last year for $7.5 billion, there was a lot of concern about what it would do with the open-source technology. However, Microsoft quickly made private repositories free for small teams, which eased some of the worry. The company also had a strong track record of open source donations and support.

SmartBear sits in the middle space between big companies that leverage open source and small fry, Murphy said.

“They certainly aren’t the size of an ‘evil empire’, like Microsoft or Oracle,” he said. “But I would say we’ve seen a lot of movement from SoapUI to Postman,” an open-source API testing tool from Postman Inc. in San Francisco, which also offers commercial versions of the software.

Geraldine D. Luckett