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SmartBear Releases Zephyr 6.6 and Acquires TM4J

SmartBear’s Zephyr gives teams the capabilities to manage testing and QA activities within the Jira ecosystem or as a standalone tool. The 2018 acquisition of Zephyr extended Zephyr’s test design and execution capabilities through the experience of SmartBear’s staff and its integration with SmartBear’s portfolio, such as SwaggerHub, HipTest, CrossBrowserTestin, and SoapUI Pro. This vendor also wanted to extend its extensive testing management capabilities beyond the users of its Jira edition of Zephyr. Enter the standalone Zephyr Enterprise Edition.

The recent Zephyr 6.6 release demonstrates SmartBear’s commitment to extend its market reach and minimize the dependence on the Atlassian customer base. Some notable updates include:

  • Enterprise Admin & Scaling. For larger customers scaling their Zephyr deployments, significant improvements were made to the SSO and LDAP support. It added the ability to provide read-only access to test assets, created a new API token management page and updated the REST APIs, zBots, and plugins to accept tokens instead of user credentials, and continued improvements for audit logging.
  • Automation Improvements. Simplified installation and setup for zBots by providing a single downloadable version that is also auto-configured for the user; and rearchitected the automation parsers, enabling customizations for homegrown and custom frameworks as well as consistent behavior across of tools that work with Zephyr (Vortex, Folder Watcher, zBots, and CI plugins).
  • Usability Improvements. Improved the Jira defect filing page for better performance and support for pre-populated fields, and underwent an overhaul of the Zephyr look and feel.

In addition to the Zephyr 6.6 major and subsequent minor releases, SmartBear announced its acquisition of Test Management for Jira (TM4J) from Adaptavist, which does not come with much surprise given TM4J’s support of Cucumber and SmartBear’s acquisition of Cucumber in June 2019. Similarly to Zephyr’s Jira edition, TM4J extends the test management capabilities of Jira with an out-of-the-box plugin, but its direct support of behavioral-driven development (BDD) with Cucumber, or a chosen Gherkin compatible tool, makes TM4J a key differentiator. SmartBear has not announced any significant changes to the TM4J and Zephyr products but is looking to dedicate additional investments to enhance these tools’ strengths and compatibilities.

Our Take

The recent release of SmartBear’s Zephyr Enterprise Edition shows this vendor’s dedication to compete against the bigger players in the space, such as IBM, Micro Focus, and Microsoft. Its recent TM4j acquisition is just one of several strategic acquisitions of testing solutions in the past few years, a common pattern we see in the application lifecycle management (ALM) marketplace. We have yet to see how SmartBear will position TM4J and its various product offering as key differentiators against its competitors. Only time will tell.

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