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As Atlassian cloud push ramps up, users assess migration

Atlassian's cloud products offer sought-after enterprise features and extend integrations, but some organizations will still struggle to transition from its on-premises tools.

Atlassian's cloud platform is the company's clear priority as it pours resources into fleshing out advanced features, slicker UIs and deeper integrations between its products there, but for some IT shops, a move away from on-premises tools will be slow.

Atlassian rolled out a host of updates for the cloud versions of its developer productivity and ITSM tools at its virtual conference this week, including a new Cloud Enterprise license that adds features many large companies have sought before migrating to the cloud, such as data residency controls.

The company also previewed new features for its beta Forge utility. These will support the development of product add-ons enterprise users need to match cloud capabilities with on-premises tool sets. Finally, Atlassian demonstrated stronger integrations between its many cloud-based products and widely used third-party CI/CD and collaboration tools.

An early adopter of Atlassian cloud, Intuit, also gave a keynote presentation at the virtual conference this week with a strong message for cloud migration laggards.

"I would say you're behind," said Sasan Goodarzi, CEO of the financial software company, when asked what his advice would be to other Atlassian customers. "You have to embrace the benefits of moving to the cloud, versus the risk of what you think you'll lose."

Atlassian officials haven't been as blunt with their customer base, and updates continue for on-premises Server and Data Center products. But the ultimate direction for Atlassian users is clear at this point, said Tom Petrocelli, analyst at Amalgam Insights.

"They are absolutely trying to get people to sunset the on-premises systems," Petrocelli said. "Even though the end of their [day two] keynote was about things they're doing for their data center products, there's no doubt they're trying to make large customers more comfortable with cloud."

In addition to new features, such as Advanced Roadmaps in Jira Software Cloud Premium, which offers managers a high-level view and the ability to drill down to individual projects within the same interface, Atlassian cloud updates eroded some gaps between cloud and on-premises products.

The Atlassian Cloud Premium license available for Confluence, Jira Software Cloud and, as of this week, Jira Service Desk, now supports IP whitelisting, unlimited storage, a reliability SLA and extended support. The new Atlassian Cloud Enterprise license includes a 99.95% SLA, 24x7 support, release tracks that let admins defer and test new feature releases up to two weeks, and supports up to 10,000 users per Jira instance, up from 5,000 previously.

Atlassian also highlighted the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, which helps users prioritize the projects they need to migrate, and offers insights into migration progress.

Atlassian Cloud Enterprise
Atlassian Cloud Enterprise, shown here in a screenshot from Atlassian Remote Summit, boosted the incentives to migrate out of data centers.

Enterprises await more third-party tool integrations

Users at large enterprises with experience in both on-premises and Atlassian cloud products say there are strong incentives for companies to make the leap.

"I learned a lot of lessons [managing on-premises Jira] at McAfee … just maintaining the servers was its own set of problems," said Catherine Schutz, associate director of program management at Concentrix Insurance in Fremont, Calif. "Moving to cloud would've been perfect, because it would've eliminated [on-premises] server performance issues."

A year ago, Schutz moved to Concentrix, which already used Jira Software Cloud. This did eliminate the struggles she'd seen at her previous job with server management, but has its own issues, including integrations with third-party products such as Microsoft Teams.

Over time, Atlassian has fleshed out advanced integrations between products such as Jira Software Cloud and Slack, as well as between Jira Service Desk Cloud and CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, CircleCI and Octopus Deploy.

You have to embrace the benefits of moving to the cloud, versus the risk of what you think you'll lose.
Sasan GoodarziCEO, Intuit

Still, Schutz said she'd like to see Atlassian Jira Software Cloud brush up its ties into Microsoft Teams so it's on par with the Slack integration. The ability to configure a Jira project within Teams, as well as two-way integration between Teams discussions and individual Jira projects would both be welcome.

"Some people aren't always in Jira or are dangerous if they are," because they aren't experienced with the tool and could make mistakes, Schutz said. "But they love Teams and watch the channels."

Atlassian reps said the company will continue to invest in Teams integration but did not address the specific items raised by Schutz.

Atlassian cloud sticking points remain

Meanwhile, companies in transition to Atlassian cloud services find its on-premises and cloud-based tools difficult to use together. For example, Atlassian added a Power-Up feature that links on-premises Jira Server with the cloud-based Trello project management tool, but security-conscious shops that also want to integrate Trello with single sign-on (SSO) tools don't yet have support for that. Atlassian reps said they are aware that some users would prefer native SSO support in the Trello Connector for Jira Server, and are evaluating it as an option in future development. For now, users can work with third-party applications such as Unito, which can keep Jira and Trello in sync with SSO.

Integration snags don't end there for Atlassian shops with legacy Jira Server instances, such as Markforged, an industrial 3D printing company in Watertown, Mass. Markforged IT pros have been wary of moving to Jira Software Cloud because of issues they encountered trying to integrate Confluence Cloud with Android mobile apps using SAML for access management.

While this remains a known issue with Confluence Cloud, it has been resolved for Jira, clearing one obstacle for Markforged to migrate. The company has also gone through a painful but necessary cleanup on its legacy Jira Server instance that will smooth the cloud migration path. But there's also the matter of getting developers used to the Jira Software Cloud next-gen user interface, said Clark Everson, helpdesk technician at Markforged.

"One of our engineers fully broke next-gen search in tests, because he's used to [on-premises] JQL [Jira Query Language]," Everson said. "I am willing to test it again, but it's going to depend on how much next gen impacts the work we've done."

Jira Software Cloud users have the option of beginning with the classic Jira interface before they move to next gen, Atlassian reps said.

The transition will take time, but these are solvable problems that must be overcome if Atlassian customers want to move forward, said Amalgam's Petrocelli, echoing the tough-love keynote message from Intuit's Goodarzi.

"Eventually, vendors usually use pricing as a way to get people to make the transition," Petrocelli said. "If you want to live in the past, go ahead, but at some point Atlassian will either resolve the sticking points, or people have to find ways to unstick them."

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