Just Announced: SmartBear Acquires Bitbar
Want to know more about this week’s news around the latest SmartBear acquisition? Our own Anand Sundaram sits down to explain why Bitbar was such a natural fit for the SmartBear product portfolio, and what challenges our two companies are teaming up to solve for customers around the globe.
Noel: We made a big announcement today: SmartBear has acquired Bitbar! What went into the decision to make that move and why is it exciting for our customers?
Anand: SmartBear acquired CrossBrowserTesting (CBT) around three years ago, and at that time, we realized that a number of our functional testing customers, who were also testing web apps, had a need to make sure their applications worked on different types of browsers. The applications had to work on IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari or some combination of these browsers. Then they had to consider the many different browser versions. On top of that, they had to layer in the different operating systems.
As mobile devices started to become popular, they had to add different types of mobile devices and tablets to the mix. So, iOS and Android devices and their variants, with different form factors, added to the complexity of what they had to deal with. Android’s fragmentation with multiple vendors, did not help either.
In summary, the operating systems, browsers, and form factors presented an increasingly complex testing matrix. You’re now talking about several hundreds, if not thousands, of combinations for teams to have to test against. Once our customers would establish this matrix as a subset of these 1000s of combinations, they would then begin the process of setting up a test lab, acquiring the hardware/devices and installing various pieces of software. And, of course, every time an operating system or browser vendor released a new update, teams would have to update/add that to the mix and maintain their lab. This was not a manageable problem and really presented a difficult challenge, as this was not their core job.
CrossBrowserTesting presented us with an opportunity to solve that challenge for our customers with an on-demand device cloud for live testing and automation for web applications. Jump to today, and there’s another important challenge to solve around native mobile apps. Customers have to test their mobile apps against a large number of devices and mobile OSs and form factors.
We looked at a handful of vendors in this space, but Bitbar really stood out to us because of their architecture, the flexibility they offer their customers to automate testing using different frameworks (for developers and qa automaton engineers/SDETs), and the extensibility of their platform. It’s also a perfect complement to CrossBrowserTesting. So SmartBear customers who want a native mobile app automation platform and a device cloud can now use Bitbar to solve their native app testing needs.
Noel: That’s great. Can you share some details around some of Bitbar’s reputation in our industry and how their customers leverage their technology?
Anand: Bitbar has some very recognizable names in its base including very large vendors like Mozilla, WeWork, CBS Interactive, and Square that have really invested heavily in their solution. These organizations have hundreds of developers using Bitbar’s automation platform for their native mobile app testing. We spoke directly with a number of Bitbar’s customers during our diligence process, and they are all very happy with the platform, the extensibility and configurability, and the ease with which they can integrate the Bitbar solution into their CI/CD pipelines. They also really love the responsiveness and support from the Bitbar team, which is something we deeply care about at SmartBear.
Bitbar also has deployment models that can fit their customers’ needs. They have a public cloud that a number of their customers are using for their manual and automation testing. They have a private cloud and an on-prem solution, too. This is a company with a great team, a really impressive offering, and a quickly-growing customer base.
Noel: What are some of the real pain points that Bitbar’s platform is solving?
Anand: In one word it is Automation. Whether you’re talking about those who are building and testing web apps, or native apps, the problem they’re all trying to solve is, “We need as much coverage of our application as possible, in an automated way and without the burden of managing and maintaining a device cloud.” Meaning, they need to functionally exercise and test as much of their applications as possible, and they need to be able to do that quickly, especially if they’re an agile or DevOps shop and things are moving really fast.
They also want to ensure they’re covering different sets of devices and form factors that their apps are intended to be run on. For example, the web apps I described earlier can be run in hundreds or thousands of combinations. And native apps could be installed on a variety of different operating systems, devices from multiple manufacturers, along with numerous operating systems and other differentiators.
On top of that, if they’re truly going fast, as is common with modern web app and native app development teams, they typically have multiple groups working on different parts of the app at the same time. Code gets checked in by developers and is built automatically as part of an automation pipeline, and developers in a number of cases are also charged with writing the tests. In some cases, QA engineers or SDETs are embedded as part of those groups and have the responsibility of functional and performance testing. As the developers write the code, they’re also going to write the tests suites with them using frameworks of their choice (developers tend to use different frameworks than the QA engineers). They’ll check the code and tests in so that when they do, the app gets built as part of CI, and is then automatically deployed to different devices and all these tests are also run to ensure that nothing is broken.
Depending on the maturity of the organization, code can automatically get deployed, or it may be staged for deployment at a later time. The latter is especially true with native apps, because things have to go through the app stores. They will get staged and be ready so that once every two months, or maybe every 45 days, the apps get pushed to the app stores. But the process of making changes to the application, fixing things that are broken, or enhancing them happens in a continuous automated fashion, including the testing
What a lot of companies are realizing is if they are embarking on an approach of having to have a device cloud available for their development and test teams is that they don’t want to sign up with multiple vendors. It makes life a lot easier for companies to only have to deal with a single platform, and a single approach to integrating with their CI/CD tool chain. These days, people are also more open to device cloud vendors, given that we have private cloud and on-prem options available, so companies that are worried about security and data privacy have a solution that can work for them.
Noel: Lastly, I’d love if you could share a little about SmartBear’s history around acquisitions. There’s a pretty cool story there.
Anand: Absolutely. SmartBear has a long history of acquiring a number of promising and really game-changing technologies. And, part of the value that SmartBear sees in these acquired companies is the brain trust, domain expertise, and the vision of the founding teams. SmartBear’s mantra has always been to continue to invest in these teams and surround them with the sales and marketing expertise that we can bring to bear. This way, they can continue to fulfill the vision they had for the amazing offerings that they’ve built, and they can grow with us. If you look at SmartBear, a number of the founders and founding teams of the various companies we have acquired over the years are still with our company.
The Bitbar team has had some really strong success and we’re excited to help them continue to build on this. This is a really powerful solution that we’re excited to start offering to our customers on its own, or together with our CrossBrowserTesting platform.