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Thoughtworks on Go. Hudson to Jenkins: continuous integration market dynamics

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I had an interesting and fun lunch last week with an old friend (of RedMonk) Dan Roberts, now of Thoughtworks. Dan used to work at Sun Microsystems.We talked about all kinds of stuff, but given the shape of Thoughtwork’s business continuous integration was bound to come up. I remember trying to persuade Sun senior management to get behind the Hudson continuous integration server a couple of years back, encourage them to build a business around the server and associated changes in industry software development models. Sun never pulled the trigger. Yet another asset unrealised.

Oracle, however, having acquired Sun, does plan to build a business around Hudson – but heavy-handed management decisions means the community has gone off to do its own thing: Hudson has been superceded, and renamed Jenkins in a comprehensive fork. Oracle may own an old code base, and a trademark, but the value, and the core developers now work elsewhere. Thus for example, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, founder and brains behind the elegant Jenkins model, now works at a RedMonk client called CloudBees. The problem for Oracle is that, unlike other Sun businesses such as MySQL, with a decent installed base, and the opportunity to raise prices, Hudson is a nascent business. The field hasn’t been ploughed yet. Now others seem to have control of the plough.

Or as Charles Lowell aka @cowboyd puts it:

dunno about those cases, but the Jenkins rename is fine. Ppl use Jenkins and Hudson is now dead. The developers have spoken.

“The developers have spoken”. Well they are the new kingmakers after all. So we now have an emerging market defined by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Thoughtworks started life as an consulting firm using agile method, but is currently making the transition to a product company: it has been using agile, and consulting on it, since forever. Martin Fowler, Thoughtworks guru, was talking about continuous integration back in the olden days- 1999 or something. The company wants to own the notion of continuous deployment in the enterprise – under the soubriquet continuous delivery. Now according to Dan, Thoughtworks has seen a marked uptick in inbound calls about Go, the company’s continuous integration toolset, because of customer fears about Oracle and Jenkins and potential fallout.

At RedMonk we don’t track market share, and tracking Jenkins marketshare would be pretty hard anyway considering its open source and freely available code, which doesnt lend itself well to 20th century analyst models. I need to talk to Cloudbees, Sonatype, one of the early players in the Hudson market, but also Atlassian with its Bamboo server. Of course if you’re a purchaser or developer I’d love to hear from you about shifting market sands in continuous integration.

update: the post Bob Bickel, on CloudBees advisory board, refers to in the comment below makes some great points– particularly by looking at github and user data to analyse the respective strengths of the Hudson and Jenkins communities.

Plug-Ins Move to Jenkins as Primary Platform
Jenkins now has 345 plug-ins – here is a list and here are the pointers to Github. There was a very good research blog done a couple of weeks ago showing how the Plug-In developer community has moved to Jenkins. Jenkins has become the primary platform for 5 of the top 5 and 19 of the top 25 plug-ins (View the raw data here). There was that rash of departures from Hudson that demonstrates this as well. More data on the moves here and here.
Community Activity
Clearly the community activity has moved to Jenkins. Most of the users on the dev and user mail lists at Oracle are legacy Hudson users, although there was about a 15% drop in numbers on both lists within a couple of weeks after the split. Oracle did a bulk upload of users on Feb. 18 to the Hudson list that brought them back up 15%. In spite of this, the User list of Jenkins outnumbers Hudson 1300 to 864, and the number on the Jenkins dev list outnumbers Hudson 790 to 543. JenkinsCI Twitter numbers blow away HudsonCI numbers 3,500 followers compared to 255 followers. Activity on Tweets containing #JenkinsCI outnumber #HudsonCI 140+ to 8 over the past 4 days.
Mail list activity on Jenkins is also also 2-5X the Hudson mail list. To the date of this writing there have been 1,172 vs. 444 posts to the DEV mail lists of each project. Many of those 444 were unsubscribe posts, but to be fair the Jenkins mail list also subscribes to the Hudson mail lists so people on Jenkins do not have to look at both. The March to date numbers are more striking: March 1 – 11 it is 244 on Jenkins and 44 on Hudson.
The Jenkins and Hudson user mail lists are even more striking. Since the split thru March 11 it is 1,109 to 159. March 1-11 is 337 to 34 – a 10X difference in activity.
Finally, the Github data again shows that Jenkins is a far more active community.

That’s some clear direction by the numbers, and shows the truth behind cowboyd’s assertion.


  1. We’re a five-person Rails shop and recently set up a CI server – using Jenkins. At least in our market segment (small shops working on a shoestring) the Thoughtworks products have a reputation as being overly hard to set up and too high-maintenance for the small market. They weren’t even on our radar, due to past bad experiences.

    Jenkins, on the other hand, Just Worked out of the box.

  2. I don’t think ThoughtWorks is morphing into a product company: they’ve got way too meny professional services people to do that. Having said that there have been tens of CI tools on the market (either open source or commercial) way before Hudson was born. Wikipedia’s page on CI has a good list to start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_integration#Software

  3. Bamboo – Java-centric
    TeamCity – .NET-centric
    Cruisecontrol.rb – Ruby-centric (maybe? I’ve never used it)

    Jenkins – Whatever you want to throw at it (C++, .NET, Java, Python, Ruby, the list goes on)

    Those are really the only products I hear mentioned anymore and I’ve found Jenkins to be the most versatile of them all. Jenkins’ “cloud” capabilities and management of remote build nodes is also quite good.

  4. Worked out of the box was the key attribute that sold me on Jenkins when I started using it two years ago. After the initial amazement that I didn’t have to edit XML files, followed by the amazement at how easy it was to add slave nodes and manage them, followed by the rapid pace of enhancement, I have a hard time considering other continuous integration servers

  5. Some stats on Jenkins adoption in a blog a did about a month ago. Things have continued on an even more positive trend since then…

    So Ted does not get confused, I am on the board of CloudBees.
    Bob Bickel

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