With new Jira Service Desk, Atlassian backs down on unpopular per-user pricing

Atlassian’s Jira Service Desk 2.0 debuts Wednesday with a new centralized portal that displays multiple service desks across a big business and a view into each agent’s workload, among new perks. But probably most important is that Atlassian has blown up the per-user pricing model announced last year and which went over like a lead balloon.

A month after last year’s inaugural Jira Service Desk release, an Atlassian blog post addressed and apologized for the move. The company said it wanted service desk price to be consistent with the existing add-on price model for the rest of its portfolio but was rethinking the move:

Atlassian products are almost all priced in a user-count way. None of our products distinguish between “active” users (such as service desk agents) and “passive” users (such as those who would only report tickets). However, since launch, we’ve clearly heard that many customers require a licensing model based on the number of agents, rather than the number of issue reporters.

Now, nearly a year later, the company has instituted agent-based pricing starting at $20 per month per agent if the company has 3 agents or less. If the company has 4 agents or more the cost per agent per month is$25. That means an agent can serve a dozen or 100 customers but not have to pay for each of those users. “We got pushback from many customers because they wanted to use it widely and across many end users at their companies,” said Didier Moretti, general manager.

As to how many users one agent can support, the answer is all over the map, depending on the tech needs and skills of the organization itself. “We have customers with one agent for less than 100 users and others 1 for 200. Larger, more established sites can have higher rations, one customer recently told me 1 agent for more than 1,000 users,” Moretti said via email.

Jira Service Desk competes with products from [company]BMC[/company], [company]ServiceNow[/company] and [company]ZenDesk[/company]. Until recently, the use of this type of product was pretty much limited to IT support staff, but now other departmetns — human resoruces, procurement, finance — are starting to use the technology to support their own constituencies. With that adoption, the per-user pricing announced last year stung.

One Gigaom commenter at the time lambasted  the pricing. “With the new pricing model…a 25 person team servicing 500 or 1000 client log-ins has to upgrade to 500 or 1000 Jira licenses. People are looking for a cheaper alternative to Zendesk so it’s crazy to price things this way.”