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Why We Need to Talk About Crowd from Atlassian

Atlassian, Crowd


It has been 11+ years since the 1.0 release of Crowd from Atlassian. Crowd is still around and development seems quite healthy. To this day, many Atlassian administrators I talk to (even long time users) are still not clear if and how Crowd can solve any of their problems.

The question is, "Why Crowd today and what can it do for you?"

First, a quick history..

As mentioned above, Crowd has been around for a long time. It was developed to solve problems Atlassian and its early customers had with application administration and end user usability.

An incomplete list of those requirements were:

  1. My organization uses more than one Atlassian product. How can I achieve single sign-on across all my Atlassian applications?
  2. I want to manage users and groups in one place, not in each application regardless if I use LDAP or not.
  3. I want to inject LDAP groups into Confluence.
  4. I want SSO/user/group integration with 3rd party applications my team uses with our Atlassian stack.

Of those four original goals for Crowd, only #3 is completely irrelevant now (Confluence has had complete LDAP functionality since 2009).  With that all in mind, we can now explore the "why" of Crowd for today.

Crowd - What have you done for me lately?

If you are considering Crowd today, here's the current list of problems Crowd might solve for you paired with reasons you might not want to utilize Crowd:

Single Sign-On

cross (x)

NO - Skip Crowd!

  • Your user base is not clamoring for SSO.
  • You are only using one Atlassian application.

YES - Get Crowd!

  • Your company doesn't utilize any SAML SSO services (OKTA, Ping, ADFS, AzureAD, etc)  and will not for the foreseeable future.
  • Your company does utilize SAML services but your organization is not on the Data Center version of each Atlassian application and the 3rd party SSO addons are too cost prohibitive.
  • Some of your 3rd party apps support Crowd for SSO  but not SAML.

Centralized User Management

cross (x)

NO - Skip Crowd!

  • Your Atlassian stack uses LDAP groups exclusively for application authorization. 
  • Your Jira Administrators are also administrators of your other Atlassian application.

YES - Get Crowd!

  • Your organization uses multiple LDAP servers and each application might have slightly different synchronization requirements from each application to each LDAP server(s).
  • Your applications administrator list for each Atlassian application might differ from app to app.
  • Your organization might require username aliasing for each application.,
  • Your organization wants to leverage LDAP groups and also add non-LDAP groups to share across all applications.
  • Your organization wants a robust user directory but does not have or want an LDAP server.

Jira Service Desk Note

If you plan to use Crowd for SSO and want to use Jira Service Desk portal, you need to implement the workaround in this JAC ticket (which we've confirmed still works as of the time this blog post was published):


The Choice Is Yours

Hopefully, you are now armed with more information on whether Crowd is right for your organization. If you have any questions about Crowd specifics, comment down below or call us, we'll be glad to help.


Managing JIRA at Scale White Paper

TAGS: Atlassian, Crowd

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