Four Atlassian Cloud Stories that Inspired Our Team in 2021

Dear readers, we are delighted to share a few tech-flavored things from the past year which inspired our team to cross our limits to provide you with the best in class services. 

Cloud Migration Assistant Support for Jira Service Management and Bitbucket

Last year, in keeping with their goal of becoming a cloud-first organization, Atlassian announced their plan to end support for their server products by February 2024.  The pressure to move away from on-prem to cloud solutions has been building over the last few years, and with this announcement, the time to make a decision is slowly but steadily decreasing.  Naturally, this news has been the cause of some concern for many organizations, as they now must choose between two options: moving their Atlassian applications and data to the Data Center or the Cloud. While some teams have opted to move to Data Center, most have decided to dive into the Cloud.  The question for many of these organizations then shifted from where to when. There are several different migration paths users can choose from, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best path depends on your particular configuration and migration requirements. 

To ease the burden of migration and reduce complexity, Atlassian created Cloud Migration Assistants. These tools are free to install and use within your on-prem instances. Once installed, you can perform app assessments, choose what you want to move to the Cloud, and start migrating at your convenience, monitoring progress from start to finish. However, there are some limitations to these tools.  Until recently, two of these limitations were that Jira Service Management (formerly Jira Service Desk) data could not be migrated with the Cloud Migration Assistant and that Bitbucket needed to be manually migrated. These limitations were removed in early November when Atlassian officially released the Bitbucket Cloud Migration Assistant and added support for Jira Service Management projects, users, groups, and customers to the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant. With the new Bitbucket Cloud Migration Assistant and support added for Jira Service Management in the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, you can now migrate your entire Atlassian suite of applications to the Cloud using Atlassian’s Cloud Migration Assistants!

It’s important to note that the Cloud Migration Assistants cannot migrate your entire data set.  You should be aware of the following:

  1. The Cloud Migration Assistants will not migrate your app data; you’ll need to work with the vendors for your particular apps to migrate any relevant data. Some apps can export and import their data, but you’ll need to check with the app developers or their documentation to confirm if this is possible.  For this reason, assessing your apps and customizations is one of the most important steps you can take when planning your Cloud migration.
  2. Advanced Roadmaps (formerly Portfolio for Jira) data is not yet supported.  Support for Advance Roadmaps in the JCMA is on Atlassian’s Cloud Roadmap and is scheduled for release sometime in Q4 of 2021.
  3. You’ll need to be on a supported self-managed version – depending on your current application version, you may need to upgrade before you can install and utilize the Cloud Migration Assistants.
  4. The Cloud Migration Assistant can’t migrate some data, including but not limited to mail handlers, global permissions, cross-project boards, and more for Jira. For complete details on what can and cannot be migrated, see what can and can’t be migrated by the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant.

The benefits of Premium & Enterprise over Standard tiers

One of the first choices you need to make when beginning your Atlassian Cloud journey is selecting the right plan for your product.  Plans in the Atlassian Cloud let you choose the features and functionality that best fit you and your organization. There’s a plan to suit your needs, from free plans for small teams that are just getting started to Enterprise organizations with thousands of users worldwide.  There are four plans to choose from: 

• Free – For small teams to plan and track work more efficiently. Free plans include Atlassian’s security, privacy, and compliance features and offer access to basic features, along with access to the Atlassian marketplace for endless extensibility. Free plans are somewhat limited in terms of functionality. If your team grows or needs tighter access control, more file storage, or dedicated support, you should move to a higher plan.

• Standard – For growing teams focused on building more together.  Standard plans were created for small and mid-sized businesses with more than ten users, needing more storage and accessing Atlassian’s support team during working hours. 

• Premium – For organizations that need to scale how they collaborate and track work. Premium plans guarantee 99.9% uptime, 24/7 support, and support responses within an hour. They also come with advanced features to help your team scale, like advanced roadmaps in Jira Software, analytics and bulk archiving in Confluence, and global and multi-project automation in Jira Software and Jira Service Management.

• Enterprise – For enterprises with global scale, security, and governance needs

While the Free and Standard plans are perfect for teams that are either just getting started or need the most commonly used features, Atlassian’s Premium and Enterprise plans have been specifically designed to help you scale and standardize Atlassian products across your enterprise.  

With Atlassian Cloud Premium, you get:

• 99.9% Service level uptime guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about unplanned downtime

• Unlimited Storage, which means no more attachment sizes or limits.

• Premium Support, which means you get extra-fast 1 hr response time 24×7 from a dedicated team of experts

• IP Allowisting, which lets you restrict access to users on VPN and office networks, even for external collaborators, contractors, and consumers. 

• Admin insights, a tool that visualizes the number of active users in your organization over time, the rate of growth, and the overall utilization of your tools at any given time. 

• Sandbox, a safe, isolated environment for testing changes before deployment to production.

• Release Tracks, which allows you to roll changes out at a regular interval, giving admins time to document upcoming changes and prepare end users.

• Archiving, which helps you reduce clutter and keep all of your content relevant and up to date.  For Jira, you have Project Archiving, which lets you remove projects and their underlying issues from Jira when they are no longer active. Likewise, for Confluence, you will be able to Bulk archive outdated or low trafficked pages.

Jira Software Premium includes Advanced Roadmaps, a tool that has been designed to help multiple teams collaborate, track their big picture initiatives, identify dependencies, and plan for team capacity across large pieces of work.

Confluence Premium includes Team Calendars, which lets your team stay organized and communicate availability with a schedule of personal and team events that link to individual work calendars and Confluence pages. Analytics in Confluence Premium gives you insights into the usage of Confluence across your organization so you can make smarter business and resourcing decisions.

Jira Service Management Premium includes Insight, a CMDB which offers visibility into dependencies so you can manage assets and configuration items (CIs), quickly troubleshoot incidents, and minimize the risk of changes. With Insight, you gain visibility into critical relationships between your applications and services.

Cloud Enterprise includes all Premium features and adds enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, security, and governance controls to standardize your various Atlassian deployments. Cloud Enterprise also includes Atlassian Access, an organization-wide tool that connects your Atlassian cloud products to your identity provider, giving you enterprise-grade authentication features, and additional oversight, across your company domains. With Atlassian Access, your admins can customize multiple authentication policies, saving them time and eliminating error-prone manual processes that pose a security risk.

With Atlassian Cloud Enterprise, you get:

The highest reliability standards, including a financially backed uptime guarantee of 99.95%, equating to less than 21 minutes of downtime per month.

Atlassian Access at no extra charge

Scalability with unlimited instances with centralized billing: pay for a user once and grant them access to multiple instances, unlike Standard and Premium, which you are charged per user, per instance

Dedicated 24×7 support with a guaranteed 30 min response time and phone support from a team of senior specialists.

Enterprise-grade security & compliance

Robust governance controls for user management at scale

If you’re unsure which plan you need, start by identifying your must-haves: which features, support levels or uptime guarantees are essential and which are nice to have? Make a list and weigh the pros and cons of each plan.  Remember that costs are not just about finance – features that save you time free your teams from grunt work may prove their worth over just a few months!

Choosing the cloud migration path that is right for you

By now, we all know that Atlassian plans to discontinue support for these products three years later, in February 2024. You’ve checked out the benefits and decided to take your organization to the next level by moving your Atlassian applications to the Cloud!  Fantastic!  All you need to do is figure out how to migrate all of your data and customizations safely.  Cloud migrations are no small feat, and several different paths are available to you. Every organization is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  The best approach will depend on your particular configuration and migration requirements.  Some of the factors include:

  1. The number of users that will need to be migrated
  2. Marketplace apps
  3. Tool integrations
  4. Application customizations

Planning is the most critical aspect of a successful migration.  It would be best never to assume simplicity – even what seems like a small migration may be highly complex, depending on what is being migrated. Successfully migrating to the Atlassian Cloud hinges on thorough preparation and planning, outlining the steps that need to be followed and who will follow them. There are some key points to be considered and decisions to be made to develop that plan.

The first thing you should do is consider the differences between Atlassian’s Server and Cloud applications. Next, define your success criteria. What specifically are you migrating?  Are you looking to reduce costs, gain immediate access to updates, or eliminate administrative overhead?  Which apps are critical to your organization, and do cloud equivalents exist? It would help if you also considered your time frame and the scope of the migration, including the overall volume, and whether or not to consolidate multiple instances into one cloud site, as doing so will increase the complexity of the migration.  Think about your core team – who will perform the migration and who will be testing?  Will you maintain your current server environment in some capacity? Answering these questions, combined with a thorough assessment of your environment, will help you determine the right course of action. 

Assessing 3rd party applications and customizations may be the most critical step when planning a migration to the Cloud.  Why?  Because, unlike standard application data, apps and app data aren’t automatically migrated when you move from server to cloud, and customizations will very likely need to be manually re-created in the Cloud environment, assuming it is feasible.  While new apps are being added to the Marketplace every day, some on-prem apps do not yet exist in the Cloud, and for those that do, they may work differently.

Each marketplace app will need to be installed separately in your Cloud instance, and in many cases, you will also need to migrate your app data separately.  In most cases, this will involve reviewing the vendor’s documented processes for migration, if they exist. If not, you will need to work with the vendor directly to migrate your data. The bottom line is each app should be considered a separate migration project which may be as complex and time-consuming, if not more so, than the primary tool migration.

Determining a strategy ahead of time is critical to success. It gives your teams and stakeholders a clear understanding of what to expect to see when they access the new environment.  There are four migration strategies to choose from:

• Lift and Shift – Take all your data and migrate it to the Cloud in a single operation. This approach is the most straightforward and is suitable for teams looking to decommission their on-prem tools completely.  However, it’s essential to remember that the more data you have to migrate, the longer it will take and the greater the complexity.

• Optimize and Shift  – Here, you will migrate a subset of data to the Cloud, leaving unnecessary data behind.  Most teams use this strategy because it allows them to start fresh with only the data they need.

• Phased – Migrate data in stages rather than all at once. As you complete each phase, you can identify and resolve migration issues, and users can be onboarded and trained in groups.

• Start Fresh – Migrate nothing; start fresh with a new cloud site. You may use this approach if you are sure that you won’t need any of your existing server data or if you would like to start working in the Cloud immediately and migrate your data at a later date. While technically not a migration strategy, you can use this approach to assess the environment, see how your teams work, optimize their configuration, and develop a rollout plan.

Most teams use the optimize and shift strategy, which allows them to migrate only what they need to their new cloud site. Remember – you will have a perpetual license to your server software, allowing you to maintain a read-only version of your server instance as an archive.  You won’t need to pay for maintenance and upgrades in the future, and you’ll always have access to your data. 

There are several paths to choose from, and no single course is best for everyone.  The best approach for you will depend on your requirements and environment.  Some determining factors include your chosen strategy, user management, apps, integrations, and customizations that you need to migrate. The most straightforward migration paths involve using the Atlassian Cloud Migration Assistants.  Built and maintained by Atlassian, these apps are free to install and use.  Once installed, you can perform assessments, choose what you want to move to the Cloud, and start migrating at your convenience, monitoring progress from start to finish. Currently, the migration assistants are only available for Jira Software, Jira Service Management, Jira Work Management, Confluence, and Bitbucket.  

For the time being, if you are migrating data from Advanced Roadmaps, you will need to use the Site Import method.  Other scenarios prevent the use of the Cloud Migration Assistants as well. In these cases, while you will not be able to use assistants to perform the migration, you can still use them to perform app assessments.  Atlassian is currently working hard on the cloud migration assistant for Jira and plans to add support for Advanced Roadmaps future. For more information, please refer to the Atlassian Cloud Roadmap, updated quarterly.

How secure is the Atlassian cloud? 

We all have fears – it’s a part of the human condition. Fear can sometimes help us avoid dangerous situations, but it should not govern our decision-making process when evaluating technologies that could greatly benefit our organizations.  With the rise of SaaS and cloud computing, many of us share a set of common fears around things like adapting to change, moving forward when going back is not an option, data security, expenses, accessibility, and a perceived loss of control. The most common fears about the cloud revolve around security.  Think about it – you are putting your precious data in the hands of another party for safekeeping. You’re probably thinking about whether or not you can secure our data better on a physical server under your control.  In short: no.  You may be able to purchase, configure, and maintain a system that meets or exceeds the standards set by the Atlassian Cloud, but it’s going to cost you – not just money, but all of your resources: time, effort, and personnel.

Let’s put these fears to rest.  First, security is built into the fabric of Atlassian’s cloud products, infrastructure, and processes. To ensure your data is secure, Atlassian protects your data with encryption, both in transit and at rest, and provides you with administrative controls to enforce organization-wide protection such as SAML SSO, enforced 2FA, and SCIM.  Atlassian’s cloud products are designed for high performance & availability. They are built on best-in-class core technologies, such as AWS, so you and your organization can scale confidently and securely.  The Atlassian cloud undergoes independent third-party audits, and their products have been certified against FedRAMP, SOC2, ISO 27001/27018, and more. Atlassian is committed to protecting the privacy of your and your customers’ data by giving you data residency options that let you choose where your data is stored and preventing it from unauthorized access with industry best practices.

Atlassian’s dedicated security team approaches security holistically based on industry best practices and aligned to a common controls framework. Security threats are prevented using their detections program, secure software development practices, and industry-accepted operational practices.  They perform rigorous security testingincluding threat modeling, automated scanning, and third-party audits. If an incident occurs, Atlassian resolves the issue quickly using security incident response practices and keeps you informed with real-time system status. Atlassian maintains high levels of availability with multiple geographically diverse data centers and robust Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Programs. Physical access to their data centers is strictly controlled with comprehensive security measures by our data center hosting partners.

Atlassian marketplace app developers are also held to the highest of standards.  As part of the app approval guidelines, all Cloud apps require a published security statement to be listed in the Marketplace and must adhere to a strict set of security requirements set by Atlassian. Atlassian also added additional badging to marketplace apps to help customers identify which ones meet increased security standards. These badges include the Cloud Fortified badge and the Cloud Security Participant badge. The Cloud Security Participant badge is used to identify apps enrolled in the Marketplace Bug Bounty Program, which will evolve to include more rigorous testing and security assessments, like CAIQ-Lite, an industry-standard questionnaire addressing the 16 most crucial aspects of the cloud controls matrix. All apps labeled with the Cloud Security Participant badge are part of a rigorous bug bounty program built by partners who incentivize active security research and fix security issues within an Atlassian-defined timeframe.

But, if you’re still not convinced or would like to know more, you can visit Atlassian’s Trust Center for more information.

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