In Part 4 of our ongoing series on Atlassian Team '21, Isos Technology gives its take on the announcements that were made at the conference. For this installment of our interview-style blog, let's cover Jira Align, DevOps, Cloud, Forge, and Data Center.
Tracy...I think I want to shift gears. What did you see for our agile peeps out there? We've talked a lot about the product announcements, but we haven't talked a lot about agile news. So what did you hear about on that topic at Team '21?
Well, first, I want to say that agile is such a sweeping term. I was really excited to hear an announcement about what the new agile product is, or the newest agile feature, or something new that's being folded into Jira Align, and...I heard crickets. So I was a little disappointed, if I'm honest. But the other thing that I know is there are some trends that Atlassian is focusing on around value, around organizations, including having a better understanding of it not only in products they build, with products that they purchase, or the services that they purchase from their vendors, how those directly tie into value that the company is delivering to their customers.
So I'm expecting Atlassian to build on that. Right now, they're reaching out across to all the teams in organizations and saying, "Let's scale this way, let's reach out and get as many teams up and running and using our tools so that they can be more efficient with the products and services that they're building." But what about connecting that up in the organization and tying it back to "How is the Atlassian stack delivering value in the agile community? That's what's happening a lot, as well. A lot of teams are moving away from the focus of outputs. How many features did we deliver and what is our velocity? And moving towards, how did we move the needle? What were the outcomes? How did we impact our customers, either internally or externally in our business?
So I think Atlassian is on that journey. And with Jira Align, I read the release notes every Friday. And I happen to know that they are investing in quality and stability across the tool. You have to remember that Jira Align was built by a startup that went really fast. So although I didn't hear a whole bunch about Jira Align, I know that the value component is incredibly important, and organizing around that it's going to be important for Atlassian and also they really want to build in some stability. And like I said, the clarity and quality of the tool are really important.
And they're still kicking butt in the market. There's no other tool out there that can connect the enterprise strategy to execution like Jira Align can. They were announced as the leader in the most recent Gartner magic quadrant for agile planning tools. So I'm still pumped about the tool and the value proposition it offers to the market.
Got it. Yeah. No, I agree. And I think a few things you said in there, it's interesting that regarding the shift—and it's a book you told me to read, which is from Project to Product—you mentioned in there that teams are measuring proxies, which are outputs and all of this. Now, let's talk about whether those proxies are for value, or are they just things. I love hearing that, "Hey, there's a push to measure how we move the business needle." Because that's what every organization wants to do.
Right. And what's interesting is Jira Align has objectives and key results that you can tie back into the work. But then, I mentioned Team Central, that's a tool that Atlassian, in some form or another, has been using internally for the last five years and so they're launching it. And it's interesting because in that tool they have projects, but it also ties up to goals. So you can start to see that it's not all about necessarily velocity like agile teams can look to, but it's really about the outcomes. And so I expect to see more in that regard.
All right. I'm going to shift again. We're going to keep bouncing around. DevOps. So Rodney, there seems to be bigger momentum around DevOps, and Open DevOps was announced. So what does that mean? Is it a product? Is it an idea, what is Open DevOps?
I wouldn't call it a product. It's an idea, but then it's the implementation of the concept. And I think this is from the main keynote on, it addresses the choice you have, best of breed or all in one. So are you going to grab a solution to handle all of your demos that everything is there, or are you going to pull the tools you need? This is going the route where, we already know, Jira is the best in breed for issue tracking, but there may be some tools that individual teams are using that work better for them for different points in the DevOps chain.
Bamboo is awesome, but maybe Jenkins works better for your business case. So Open DevOps, the idea behind it is that you're able to use the Atlassian tools, but then you're able to hook in the tools from other vendors more easily to use the right tools for your cases. And so basically, it opens up that toolchain, so you can use the vendors that you need actually to have the most efficient DevOps pipeline. And so that's a great thing. Like I said, right now, I'm involved in a lot of the DevOps that Isos is doing, and a lot of that involves assessing where different organizations are on their DevOps journey.
And one of the things there is, "Hey, are we going to be forced to use tool X?" No, we're going to recommend you use the right tool for you. And that's what the whole idea behind Open DevOps does for you; it provides you with a one-level project, there's a Jira project template that you have that then you can go ahead and go, "Okay, these are the tools that I use for these projects. Okay. I have another project that is going to be a DevOps project in my organization." I don't have to reset up everything and figure everything out and create all that basic product structure and all the tedious stuff. So Open DevOps gives you that integration right there, but it also then starts to expose the data for you, either you make sure your Jira issues are included not only inside of your commits that is one of the things we're used to whenever we're doing things with our Bitbucket commits or whatever repo we're going to, but now you also have it inside of deployment information inside of your tools.
And now you've got these visualizations to see better how your deployments are mapping back to what's going on. And so it's a way to actually to have that broader view. And I know that you're probably thinking, how is this different than Compass? Well, Compass is designed for a similar case, but it's not designed to plug every one of your tools into the same way. With Open DevOps, the idea is you're opening up the toolchain. That's really where this is coming into play. And so it promotes your dev and IT collaboration and it provides some exciting features. One of the ones I actually want to look at is, there's a risk assessment engine that actually you can run on top of your toolchain. Once you have things configured, it will see where your risks may be and identify places where you may want to optimize this stuff.
Teams need to use their tools in a way that works for the organization instead of going, "You have to work this way." No, we're going to help adapt to how you need to work to get the best DevOps there.
I love it. I mean, as a company that helps people solve problems. What Tracy talked about before, we want to see outcomes. And so we don't want to get in the middle of a tool holy war, that you have to use this tool or that tool. Use the tool that fits, but hey, we can integrate it, and you can have the visibility. You can see what you want and still have that comfort level that, hey, the Atlassian tool will orchestrate all of these other different things in that toolchain and pick what works best for your team.
Exactly. That's the bigger thing we're hearing from organizations, is what they want is that visibility.
All right. Switching gears a little bit again. So it wouldn't be an Atlassian event if Cloud wasn't prominently mentioned. So I'm going to just go through real quick a couple of the highlights they had from Cloud. One was when we talked about Insight and ProForma, they're going to include those in the premium version and on up. So that's a big win. They're at 20,000 users, 35,000 users, by the end of the year, data residency. So this is big in highly-regulated businesses and in a lot of companies in Europe. Where your data lives matters, and so now you can specify right now the data residency is where is it most efficient versus right now. That's how you solve it today. But what they have now is, "Hey, I want it to live in this data center in this country. And that's where my data's going to live." So that's huge.
HIPAA compliance by 2022 and then FedRAMP, they're heading that way. There was no commitment update, but Trello is FedRAMP certified. They're going to get Atlassian Cloud in there, as well. So those were the big platform-type announcements.
Rodney, I think one of the most exciting things was, Forge is going live this month. So talk to us a little bit about what Forge is and why that matters.
Yeah, I'm very excited by this because we've been following Forge for a few years now, it's gone through alpha and then beta. So one of the things that we run into whenever we deal with clients, either who are going to the cloud or who are already there, is—and I don't know if this is the term for it—you have Atlassian interested in data residency, but we're going to call it computational residency. So it's, "Where is my data being worked on?" Atlassian has gone through a lot of certifications to make their platform secure. Risk departments go in and they go, "Okay, yeah, you've got these certifications. We're good."
But now you have this key app that you want, except right now, the computation has to happen in the vendor servers. And they may get certifications, but they don't have the resources to get all of the certifications for the computation residency they would need, that may satisfy risk departments. And I have seen cloud migrations killed because of this, or I've seen key apps killed because of this, because it's like, "We can't get the functionality we need in the cloud," or, "We're going to hold off until this is available." So that's the other thing that you're seeing too, is organizations that have gone, "We're not moving yet. We are going to wait. We've heard, "Shadowing of this Forge thing's coming. Once it's there then hey, we'll talk again about moving."
Well, now that it's going GA, and now that you're going to start to have some of the more significant vendors doing development there. Instead of them killing it because of that, they go, "Oh, no, this is inside of the Atlassian domain where this is being worked on."
As I said, I've had multiple discussions with clients, and as soon as you engage the risk department or their InfoSec teams, it's when they realize where those computations happen and that there's some data that's helping you pass over the first computation, they go, "No, sorry, we can't do it. We're going to wait," or, "Stay on Data Center."
100%. And I love that phrase, computational residency. I don't know if you've trademarked that, but I like it, data residency and computational residency. And I think it's going to be a big win for companies providing apps. It's going to be a big win for the Atlassian community, so I think that's great. And clearing that hurdle. So Nick, Rodney touched on, "Hey, we hear people talking about going to the cloud." You're on that leading edge of sales, what do you hear from that?
Yeah, definitely. It's a big decision point for organizations, a lot of the time, the big factors to consider when moving to Cloud are, "Hey, we don't need to manage our infrastructure when we're in the Cloud. Do we have the resources to manage the infrastructure to host our own Atlassian stack?" If not, then Cloud might be the choice for you. You get to the rolling updates, which they're giving you more control over in the near future within the cloud, but you don't have to manage those updates on your own instance constantly. So it's nice for teams that might lack some of those infrastructure resources to manage that stack that they're hosting the Jira instance on.
But on the flip side of that, maybe you need more control over your security, maybe you need your own dedicated firewalls and you need to meet that security compliance. They haven't quite gotten to the cloud yet. You mentioned, FedRAMP doesn't have a date of release quite yet. So if you're in that bucket of huge enterprise teams or need specific security compliance, and need to meet that particular security compliance, then Data Center might be for you. And that's why they're expanding the data center offering just as much as that Cloud offering. So I think that there is a pretty hard split and anybody that can go to Cloud and doesn't have to meet those security requirements or aren't so large that they're worried about performance above a cloud product, then the Cloud is the right move.
And we've mentioned again and again, that they're packaging more stuff into their Cloud offering. We see Insight, ProForma, and all these acquisitions, packaged in Cloud. So that's always huge when you get all of those big players in the ecosystem just part of your product out of the box, which is awesome to see.
Yeah, no, that's great. And I'm glad you mentioned it because there is a big push to Cloud. But there was some fascinating stuff coming out of Data Center. And I think you nailed it: Atlassian is still providing love to Data Center. They still see the use case. There's still a real good reason for these large massive organizations with some of these complex requirements to be on Data Center layering in all the new products and the pace of change is not what these large organizations want. So it's bringing some stability to that, as well.
Rodney, Kubernetes support was one of those put in there. Can you briefly tell us what that means?
Yeah. So Kubernetes lets you manage your containers. But, you can spin up your Jira and Confluence instances, and then, you'd go, "Okay, I've got a server for Jira. I've got a server for Data Center that is inside of a container. And okay, now I have the container to the management." Well, Data Center is multi-node. So I want to spin up three containers for Jira. I want a container with a specific reporting of that node and then I've got my admin and so you'd have those more complex architectures.
Okay. So now I'm going to have to be tooling all these special containers, and there could be a lot of manual processes and stuff inside of there as part of something that really could be automated. So Kubernetes lets you manage and orchestrate your containers. And this is something that people have been asking for, for a while is, "Hey, we've got this thing that lets us spin up multiple nodes. Why don't we have the support to use one of the biggest orchestration tools out there for these containers." And now we've got that with Kubernetes, this is what people have been asking for a while. So it allows you more control over your data center. You can do that virtualization for your servers and you can spin them up easier with the architectures and you use effectively, very good industry-standard tooling to control the containers at the metal level. And that's why from my side and from an ops side, people get really excited by this because this is making the process of actually managing your Data Center clusters much easier, and it puts it where it really should be.
Absolutely. I think that was a huge announcement and definitely a commitment to the architecture. The other thing I saw, and I'm going to speed us through just a little bit because I want to make sure we have time for questions, but they also announced that Insight will be given out to Data Center customers, which is huge, from a licensing perspective, that's a good chunk of revenue for them and they're going to give it away to their Data Center customers because they know that it solves that problem. So again, that whole data modeling piece, what data do you want to model inside? I think that's going to be powerful.
To be continued ...
Read the whole series or watch the webinar:
- Part 1 - Point A, Jira Work Management, Trello
- Part 2 - Compass, Team Central, Jira Product Discovery
- Part 3 - Halp, ProForma, Think Tilt. Mindville
- Part 4 - JiraAlign, DevOps, Cloud, Forge, Data Center
- Part 5 - What features excited you the most?
- Part 6 - What were your favorite presentations?
Watch the webinar and get the slides here.
CEO, Isos Technology
Atlassian Solutions Engineer, Isos Technology
A Solutions Engineer for Isos Technology, Nick is based out of Arlington, VA. He has a technical background with software test automation, quality assurance, and CI/CD lifecycle. Nick has always been interested in innovative technologies, which led him to pursue two technical degrees from Penn State University. He is accredited in Atlassian tools with certifications in Jira Service Management, Agile with Jira, and he’s a Certified SAFe Program Consultant. Nick has a passion for technology and a knack for deconstructing the tools' concepts into easy-to-understand explanations.
Senior Atlassian Consultant, Isos Technology
Senior Atlassian Consultant, Isos Technology
Senior Atlassian Consultant, Isos Technology
Tracy Walton's consulting is a unique blend of her passion for leading teams, her product expertise, and 10 years of hands-on experience in agile software development in a variety of products and industries, including Digital Marketing, Customer Relationship Management, Subscription Billing, and Compensation Analysis. She is an Atlassian Certified Professional: Agile for Jira and Jira Software Administrator and holds additional certifications as a Scrum Master and Life Coach.