Which Atlassian Platform is Right for My Organzation?

Atlassian, Jira, Atlassian Cloud, Data Center


If you have attended any Atlassian Summit event in the past five years, the message from Atlassian is loud in clear: the future of Atlassian's product usage is the Atlassian Cloud. As one of Atlassian's premier solutions partners, Isos constantly receives that very same message. Your organization should not doubt the seriousness of Atlassian's conviction on this point. However, this eventual fact does not erase the hard realities that exists today, which are:

  1. Not every organization can commit to pushing their critical computing needs to the cloud.
  2. Atlassian's server based products are still very compelling and have futures not yet available on the cloud version of each product.

When your organization first decides to start using/reevaluating its Atlassian product usage, you must ask yourself:

"Should I go Cloud or Server (Data Center)?"

While Atlassian has some excellent write-ups on the topic of Cloud vs Server (Data Center) , we thought it make be useful to provide a few composite examples of organizations we have consulted with over the past year in regards to their platform journey.  Quick note, we'll be focusing on organizations of 200+ people in our examples.

Marketing Agency - Current Jira Server Customer

Over the course of four years, a marketing agency with 300+ users has an installation of Jira Server to manage almost every aspect of their marketing business. Recently the organization has been experiencing many problems with their Jira installation, but three distinct issues are causing most of the organizational heartache:

  1. Performance: The Jira server is going down a few times a week, sometimes for hours at a time. As Jira has become mission critical, this downtime is causing serious financial losses to the business.
  2. Outdated version:  When Jira Server was installed, Jira was at version 6.4.X. IT staff turnover has forced the IT org to "kick the can" on upgrades year after year. Staff that attended Summit this year are frustrated at the many features of Jira they are not able to utilize. Finally, the installed version of Jira has many security vulnerabilities that is putting the org as risk.
  3. Jira Accessibility: The agency works with many outside contractors and customers. The Jira instance is currently behind a corporate firewall and thus provisioning non-employee to access Jira is very cumbersome and most of the time doesn't happen. This lack of access has extremely limited real-time collaboration with people outside the organization.

Solution: Cloud

After Isos conducted an analysis of the Jira instance, we created a plan to move the agency to the Cloud version of Jira.  Moving to Cloud immediately solved all the above major issues:

  • Jira Cloud performance has been much more reliable than their current Jira Server instance.
  • Jira Cloud is always updated to the most current version of Jira.
  • Giving access to users outside the organization is trivial.

The short list of issues we worked with the client to resolve included:

  • Migration  of 200K+ Jira issues.
  • Re-implementing some minimal yet critical automation on a few of their Jira workflows.
  • Create customized training to train in-house trainers on helping staff adjust to Jira clouds UI and new feature set.

Mid-sized Credit Union - Current Jira Cloud Customer

Over the past 7 years, this mid-sized credit union with 500+ users has been happily humming along on Jira Cloud back when it was actually called Jira OnDemand(!). In the past year the organization passed a joyous threshold: 10B of assets under management. Reaching the milestone, the organization experienced on onerous side effect: more scrutiny by regulators. Jira Cloud produced these problems:

  1. Data Exposure: Auditors did not like how sensitive data was not protected by a VPN or WAF. Many Jira issues contained operational logs that might contain customer PI and the consensus is that information is potentially too accessible.
  2. Addon/App Data Sprawl: As Jira Cloud became more popular in the organization, use of addons/apps became more prevalent. Auditors soon found out that addon vendors chose where to store data and many times that data could be stored anywhere in the world and there is almost no transparency on data access / retention policies.
  3. Audibility of usage: The final burning issue of using Jira Cloud was the lack of usage audibility. Jira Cloud has pretty good tooling to allow monitoring of modification of user data and system configuration, but it completely lacks tools to identify data browsing behavior of users.

Solution: Data Center in AWS

After Isos conducted an analysis of the Jira Cloud instance, we created a plan to move the credit union Jira Data Center on AWS:

  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed them to secure the entire instance hind a SSL VPN using a new feature on the Amazon Application Loadbalancer.
  • Jira Data Center on AWS gave the organization and auditors guarantees on exactly where their data lived a rest.
  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed Isos to implement some light tooling to allow the organization to audit users accessing Jira data.

The short list of issues we worked with the client to resolve included:

  • Migration of 350K Jira issues.
  • Creating custom scripts to help migrate some Tempo Timesheets time tracking data.
  • Help client audit and determine how many projects will actually migrate.
  • Create customized training to train inhouse trainers on helping staff adjust to Jira Server's UI and reduced feature set.

Software Services Company - Current Jira Cloud Customer

Over the past 2 years, this 1000+ user SAAS company has been on Jira Cloud. While excitement is high for Jira, there have been many perpetual issues:

  1. Performance: The company has many automated processes that automatically create Jira issues on system faults, change management processes, etc. A certain small, but critical volume API call fail from time to time resulting in gaps in Jira issue history. Atlassian support has not, as of yet, been able to track down the issue.
  2. Advanced Workflow Automation: As use of Jira has increased, many dev teams want to extend the automation within Jira and how Jira talks to other systems use by the SAAS org. With that, it appears the dev teams have exhausted the feature limits of what cloud addons are able to do in regards to complex automation.
  3. UI Customization: The organization has made a heavy investment in it's brand identity for both internal and external use. The HR team has become frustrated at the lack of 'skinning' options allowed in the cloud products.
  4. Testing of configuration changes: Operation and DEV teams wanted a way to test critical changes to workflows and Jira cloud currently does not have an elegant way to replicate an instance to test  any configuration changes (including workflows)

Solution: Data Center in AWS

After Isos conducted an analysis of the Jira Cloud instance, we created a plan to move the SAAS organization Jira Data Center on AWS:

  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed the SAAS org to stress test the Jira DC environment, right-size the Jira node count and even allow for dynamic provisioning of Jira nodes if need be.
  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed the SAAS org to leverage all the rich addons in the Jira DC eco system.
  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed Isos to create very specific UI and skinning changes to each Atlassian application in use to the look and feel match the rest of the org's internal applications.
  • Jira Data Center on AWS allowed Isos to create multiple tiers for DEV, TEST, STAGE and PRODUCTION environments. Isos also worked with org staff on tooling to help promote changes between environments.

The short list of issues we worked with the client to resolve included:

  • Issue migration.
  • Workflow refactoring.
  • Adapting our load test tooling to accommodate their performance testing needs.

Managing JIRA at Scale White Paper

TAGS: Atlassian, Jira, Atlassian Cloud, Data Center

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