In recent years, Atlassian has been making an aggressive push for users to go to the cloud instance recently. We have been receiving many questions from clients on the Atlassian-Hosted instances of JIRA and Confluence, and whether to make the migration from the server to these cloud instances. Therefore, we wanted to put together a blog in regards to migrating to the Atlassian Cloud from your server, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of using the Atlassian Cloud as your new solution. Here, we analyze the technical, usability and financial pros & cons of the Atlassian Cloud, and the types of companies who would benefit most from moving to the Atlassian Cloud.
*As a disclaimer, we have been using the Atlassian Cloud for hosting our project issues and documentation since 2010, so this is an accumulation of our experiences working alongside both the Atlassian Server instances and the Atlassian Cloud. We are also Atlassian Experts and currently enrolled in the partner program.
What are the Atlassian Cloud’s Benefits?
If your firm already uses the Server-based Atlassian Tools (i.e. JIRA / Confluence) and you are looking to migrate to the cloud, you will find some initial benefits in pricing, low maintenance requirements (no more memorizing “yum” commands), Tool Administration Ease & Add-On installations, and the Atlassian Connect framework.
If you are an enterprise with 2,000 or less users, you will pay less for the first year than you would if you purchased an initial JIRA Server License:
- Pricing for Cloud 501 – 2000 Users: $24,000.00
- Pricing for Server 501 – 2000 Users: $1,500.00 per month ($15,000.00 annually)
However, in Year 2, the Server License renewal fee is only $12,000.00, whereas you will continue to pay $18,000.00 annually for the Cloud instance. Roughly around Year 3 the cost to support the Server and Cloud will even-out, and at Year 4 the cost to continue supporting the Cloud instance will be more than the server instance. While the cost of the license seems to be a staggering $6,000.00 more annually after Year-3, your firm will make up the cost in saving on overhead associated with server maintenance (labor, updates, licensing agreements), etc. Depending upon your enterprise practices, going to the cloud may be very cost-effective.
As hinted at previously, gone are the days of figuring out how to upgrade your JIRA instance, or upgrade the underlying technologies (i.e. your Database, JVM, etc.). This ensures your system (both the Atlassian Tool and the underlying application software) is kept up-to-date without you having to take the site down for maintenance. This is all handled seamlessly by the folks at Atlassian, which means you can focus on what is important to you: getting your software developed. Figure 1 below provides an overview of a typical Cloud instance and the underlying software components / architecture maintained by Atlassian (yes you don’t have to maintain any of it).
Figure 1: Java JVM, OS, and Database Information Example
User Management (including Billing Management) and Add-Ons are all handled through the Administration panel in JIRA and/or Confluence. You can go ahead and update billing preferences, the number of users in your Atlassian Cloud instance, and instantly connect Atlassian Add-Ons across all your tools (i.e. integrate your Confluence instance with JIRA) using the “Discover New Applications” feature. With one-click, you can have JIRA Service Desk, Core, Confluence, Capture, Portfolio, etc. installed and integrated with your instance. You can also integrate easily with any Google Apps you are currently using as well.
Figure 2: Atlassian Marketplace for JIRA
Atlassian Connect is a framework allowing you to develop add-ons for the Cloud (JIRA and Confluence). You can develop your own custom add-on and access the application through a REST web service over HTTP. This helps bridge the gap for those Atlassian Tool users who have custom add-ons they use specifically within their enterprise. Atlassian Connect allows these users to migrate the add-on functionality to the cloud. If you decide to develop your own add-on for your Atlassian Cloud instance, be sure to brush up on JSON, REST APIs, and utilize the Atlassian User Interface (AUI) CSS Library to maintain the cloud standards and best practices.
What Are the Challenges to the Cloud?
While migrating to the Atlassian Cloud enables customers to take full advantage of all the Cloud has to offer, there are some limitations to the functionality provided through the Atlassian Cloud. Here, we provide a list of limitations we found while doing our due diligence for our clients.
Limited Plugin Support
While Atlassian Connect provides a bridge between custom add-ons and the new Cloud instance, Atlassian Connect has a learning curve, development time and effort. Many of the add-ons in the Atlassian Marketplace were developed for Server / standalone instances only. You may find many of the add-ons you have purchased for your JIRA Server incompatible with the Atlassian Cloud. If you have custom plugins used by your enterprise, you will need to develop these using the Atlassian Connect Framework in order to connect with your Atlassian Cloud instance. This will require additional development time and effort.
Limited LDAP Integration
Many firms utilize Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) for accessing their JIRA or Confluence instance. Users are required to have an LDAP profile in order to access the Atlassian Tool suite. Atlassian Cloud does not allow users to interface with their LDAP directly. Atlassian has been repeatedly dinged by the user community on this issue, and they are currently working on a solution: https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/ID-79?src=confmacro.
There are strict storage limits set on the Atlassian Cloud instances depending on the number of users. If your server instance is hosting several hundred gigabytes of files and data through either attachments or images uploaded to JIRA issues or Confluence, you may find it challenging when upgrading to the Atlassian Cloud.
- For 0-500 Users, the limit is 25GB (for Confluence and JIRA) which may be uploaded and stored in the Atlassian Cloud instance.
- For 500+ Users, the limit is 50GB for confluence and 100GB for JIRA.
URL will become “companyname.atlassian.net”
Many of our clients and Atlassian customers normally access their tools through a subdomain, for instance they will access their JIRA or Confluence instance by typing “jira.companyname.com”. However, should you decide to move to the cloud, your URL will be changed to “companyname.atlassian.net”. Essentially the name of your instance will become a subdomain of atlassian.net. Atlassian is looking to build a feature enabling users to create and update their own URLs in the Atlassian Cloud, but it has not yet been developed: https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CLOUD-6999.
Performance Issues and Garbage Collection
There have been some noted performance issues around the Atlassian Cloud, specifically working with JIRA and Confluence. Users do not have access to the underlying server, and therefore cannot directly increase the JVM Memory or the overall RAM allotted for their instance. Therefore, depending on the instance, you will see a lot of red when it comes to managing the Java Heap and the Garbage collection. We recommend Forcing garbage collection at least once daily in order to free objects in memory not being used by the Atlassian Tool.
Figure 3: Atlassian Cloud Java VM Memory and Garbage Collection
You will also not have access to the underlying PostgreSQL Database, so your reporting will be restricted to what you will be able to perform using JQL queries.
Limited Support for 2,000+ Users
Large Enterprises will run into a wall if they have over 2,000 active users on their JIRA or Confluence instance. Currently, the Atlassian Cloud only allows customers to purchase licenses for up to 2,000 users.
No FedRAMP Certification
If you currently providing hosting or tool solutions to the Federal Government, you understand the importance of the FedRAMP certification for data centers. For many agencies, tools are required to be FedRAMPed if they are hosted outside of an existing agency data center. Currently, the Atlassian Cloud is not FedRAMP certified.
As an Atlassian Expert and Partner, we feel the Atlassian Cloud is overall an excellent and constantly evolving tool with widespread use across multiple industries. The Cloud provides convenience and removes obstacles associated with purchasing and maintaining an Atlassian Tool Suite for smaller firms, development teams, or firms wanting to “try out” the Atlassian Tool Suite. You can try out the Atlassian Cloud here: https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/try.
The Atlassian Cloud may not be a good fit for large enterprises (with +2,000 users) or those firms which may be utilizing a considerable number of add-ons not currently developed for the Cloud. However, we strongly encourage both small and large enterprises to investigate everything the cloud has to offer.
Ascend Integrated encourages you to explore the Atlassian Cloud and all that it has to offer, it may be just what your firm needed for tracking and managing your tasks.
What are your thoughts on the Atlassian Cloud?