Achieving an Unified Testing Approach with Zephyr: A Chat with Ryan Lloyd of SmartBear

Insight Main Image

In an in-depth interview with Alan Shimel of, Ryan Lloyd, VP of Products at SmartBear, explained how the recent acquisition of Zephyr’s Test Management Suite fits into SmartBear’s portfolio of products.

“If you don’t recognize the [SmartBear] company brand, it’s very likely that you’ll recognize one or more of our product brands, since we’re the company behind some key product brands like Swagger, SoapUI, CrossBrowserTesting and TestComplete. We have a diverse portfolio of products that are all focused on helping our customers build, test and monitor their software applications. Zephyr’s collection of tools (will help them) manage the testing process.”

Zephyr’s presence within the Atlassian ecosystem, where SmartBear is already a big player, also played a role in the acquisition decision, Lloyd said.

“The reality is 60 to 70 percent of our customers are using Atlassian’s tools to manage some part of their software development process. So, it’s a very strategic and important ecosystem for SmartBear as a company. Zephyr improves our ability to reach that ecosystem of users and make sure that they’re aware of all of the tools and capabilities that SmartBear can offer.”

“What Zephyr brings to the table is a solution that is natively built around Jira and delivered through the Atlassian marketplace. It’s a solution that Jira administrators and customers can install directly from within their Jira instance. It provides a seamless extension of their workflows within Jira to handle test-management scenarios. This is really important to teams that are trying to take a unified approach to consolidating their processes.”

SmartBear and Open Source Software

Asked about the differences between open-source and commercial versions of SmartBear products, Lloyd said there two philosophies core to SmartBear’s business:

“One is that we want to be open and interoperable with all the tools that are part of the ecosystems that software teams are using. In some cases, that means (taking advantage of) commercial opportunities to partner with companies like Atlassian; in other cases, it means we want to be a part of an existing open-source ecosystem or help build up and nurture an open-source ecosystem, which we did when we brought SoapUI and Swagger into our product portfolio.”

“There’s a brand and a culture that exists around open-source products and it’s our responsibility, as stewards of those brands, to continue to nurture that community. That means we’ve have to make balanced decisions about where we choose to add features to the open-source products versus where we commercialize some of those features, so there’s a constant balance in evaluating and making sure we’re engaging with the community.”

Biggest Challenges in Software Tools Space

“More broadly, beyond just our open-source products, one of the biggest challenges in the software tools space and market is the interoperability that’s required between tools these days,” Lloyd said. "Developers and testers are demanding practitioners. They want their tools to work together and there’s a huge diversity of tools out there in the market. As a product manager, what keeps me up at night is making sure all these tools are compatible and work (together) to support these complex workflows.”

Security testing is merging with other kinds of testing as part of the new Agile workflows, Lloyd observed. “As teams increase the pace of trying to deliver and release software, they’re being forced to evaluate quality and security earlier in the life cycle and more from the context of the development team, rather than having a separate, isolated team that deals with (security issues) downstream or after the fact. There’s definitely a lot of demand for Agile workflows to support testing by design and security by design. From our perspective, that opens up some unique opportunities for adjacencies and areas where SmartBear can continue to expand in the future.”

“The acquisition of Swagger is a great example of us providing tools that help developers earlier in the life cycle. Where we had SoapUI to help with API testing from a QA perspective, Swagger aims to solve some of that further upstream by enabling more collaboration around the definition of those APIs to begin with.” 

“Continuing down this path of modernizing our portfolio, we acquired CrossBrowserTesting about two years ago to help companies test modern types of applications that are integrated more deeply with Selenium, which has become hugely popular with developers to drive automated Web and mobile testing. Hiptest and Zephyr are furthering our relevance for those software teams that are on that journey.”

“In addition to integrating our products in the right way, we’re building up the SmartBear Academy, our SmartBear community and our big user conference, to help elevate the SmartBear brand and create more awareness of the portfolio of products we have – how they work together, how they fit into the ecosystem.  We’re just at the start of that journey right now. You’ll see a lot more, as we launch into next year, of what we’re doing from a brand perspective to galvanize the company and all of the great products we have,” he concluded.

Watch the Video Chat here: