Tag Archives: Atlassian’s

Jira Roadmaps connect to Confluence, await Code Barrel

Atlassian’s Jira Roadmaps began to sync up with the rest of its cloud-based product line this week, and more integrations will become available this quarter, as users await further streamlining of the company’s tools.

Jira Roadmaps, which offer high-level views into team projects and their projected delivery timelines, became available for the latest version of Jira Software Cloud in October 2018. Jira Software Cloud is distinct from Jira Server, a much older on-premises version of the nearly 20-year-old product.

This week’s updates include several refinements to the Roadmaps workflow interface, such as clearer visualizations of dependencies between Roadmap projects, and finer-grained workflow editing features in the top-level UI. Most significantly, users can now add multiple live Jira Roadmaps images to Confluence documents that offer business managers an organization-wide view of software projects, a key component of enterprise BizDevOps strategy.

“We use Confluence for our internal wiki,” said Chester Dean, director of business technology operations at Looker, a business intelligence firm in Santa Cruz, Calif. “The new integration will give us access to embedded visualizations of next-gen workflows.”

Looker, which Google acquired in June 2019, uses its own project-tracking tools within the previous version of Jira, known as Jira classic, which Atlassian also offers to customers through a partnership between the two companies. Looker still uses the older version of Jira along with the latest version, dubbed Jira next-gen, as users can get started quickly on projects in the newer edition, but the company still relies on some older features.

“We get people to model what they want in next-gen, then build it in classic,” he said. “Next-gen reduces the amount of admin time it takes to learn and understand how to use Jira, but it isn’t yet ready to replace classic for us.”

Jira Roadmaps in Confluence
Atlassian’s Jira Roadmaps can now be embedded in Confluence documents

Jira Roadmaps, Code Barrel offer ease of use

One feature the latest version of Jira lacks is the ability to link workflows between different projects, but an Atlassian spokesperson said that feature is in the works. Dean said he understands that the priority for Atlassian is to keep Jira Roadmaps and the latest version of Jira Software Cloud current.

“There are a bunch of [vendors] building project management tools, and Atlassian has to be there for the next generation of developers,” he said.

Next month, Atlassian will also roll out integration between the latest version of Jira and the Jira automation tools it acquired with Code Barrel last fall. Code Barrel’s rules builder software automates routine tasks for Jira administrators, such as automatically pre-populating issues with associated subtasks.

Non-technical teams at Looker such as marketing and customer service have taken to the latest version of Jira because of such usability features, Dean said.

Still, Dean isn’t alone in wanting more cohesion between the two versions of Jira Software Cloud, as well as between the multiple products in the overall Jira line. Jira Roadmaps for the older version of the product are not yet generally available, but were previewed at the Atlassian Open summit in Boston last October, and users at that event also said they’d like to share information more easily between the two versions of the product.

However, Jira Roadmaps workflows are fundamentally designed to be independent from one another, so that Jira administrators don’t have to manage changes. This may complicate upgrades for users of the older version, but in the long run, analysts warn that enterprises should expect such disruptions.

“From one generation to another, there are new ways of working,” said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Gartner. “Customers are used to a certain way of doing things, but those features might operate differently than they expect in a new product.”

Atlassian’s software integration balancing act

While cloud-only users wish for more features in common between Jira next-gen and classic, enterprise companies in on-premises and hybrid cloud environments would also like to see some next-gen Jira features added to Atlassian’s Jira Server.

But the company has made clear that its emphasis will be on cloud and next-gen products, and it says more than half of its enterprise customers have already moved to the cloud version. Some 45% of Jira users have also moved to next-gen as of this month, the company said. At this point, Jira Software Cloud and Server products are developed separately on different codebases, which introduce different constraints, making it unlikely they will share features.

In part, this is because Atlassian increasingly competes with Agile planning and DevOps software vendors that don’t offer on-premises products at all, such as Zendesk and GitLab, Gartner’s Murphy said. Another competitive product, Microsoft’s Azure DevOps, offers the same features both on-premises and in the cloud, but Azure DevOps users face their own integration and upgrade challenges as Microsoft moves toward GitHub.

Meanwhile, Atlassian sweetened the cloud deal for reluctant enterprise users when it shored up its cloud security features and began offering a cloud SLA last year, after a move to AWS in 2018 improved its reliability. In November 2019, the company introduced Atlassian Forge, a framework software partners and IT pros can use to convert popular plugins available for on-premises products for use with the cloud suite, which had been another major hindrance to enterprise cloud migration.

Atlassian has pledged to streamline and rationalize all of its Jira products, which include Portfolio for Jira and Jira Align, based on Atlassian’s acquisition of AgileCraft in 2019, and link them through a unified data repository. Company spokespeople said this week that work will continue throughout 2020, along with CI/CD pipeline integration for Jira, likely to be launched at Atlassian Summit in early April.

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Atlassian HipChat shutdown surprises enterprise IT pros

Atlassian’s HipChat died a sudden death this week, as the DevOps software vendor teamed up with an erstwhile competitor, Slack, and turned over its ChatOps IP.

The Atlassian-Slack deal will see Slack acquire Atlassian’s HipChat IP, as well as Stride, a successor to HipChat for ChatOps, which was released in Sept 2017. Both HipChat and Stride will be discontinued as part of the deal by Feb 15, 2019 in favor of Slack’s ChatOps tools. Atlassian, which also makes popular DevOps tools such as Jira, Confluence and BitBucket, also will take a minority stake in Slack.

IT pros were skeptical of Atlassian Stride, and judged it as too little and too late to compete with an entrenched ChatOps competitor. Atlassian HipChat was launched in 2010 and had a loyal following, though it’s unclear just how many users it has; while Slack is popular, HipChat’s discontinuation in about six months surprises many industry watchers.

“I guess we were right that Stride would fall, so that’s not a huge disappointment, since that came out after Slack,” said Chris Moyer, vice president of technology at ACI Information Group, a content aggregator based in Ipswich, Mass. “But Hipchat was before Slack and had quite a few loyal users.”

HipChat’s fate was already sealed last fall, when Atlassian rolled out Stride and encouraged customers to move to the new product almost immediately. But that migration effort fizzled by June 2018, and some Atlassian HipChat shops said the Slack takeover at least gives them more certainty about HipChat’s fate.

“Stride only had about 12 plugins when I evaluated it a month or two ago,” said Kevin Burnett, DevOps lead at Rosetta Stone, a global education software company in Arlington, Va. and an Atlassian customer. The company added plugins for Jira and Confluence in February 2018 and April 2018, respectively.

An uncertain future for Atlassian HipChat users

Still, Burnett is surprised to see Atlassian team up with a competitor, and he’s unsure whether his company will follow in that direction. There are other options available such as Microsoft’s Teams, which has proven a strong Slack competitor, as well as Google Hangouts Chat and Jabber. Rosetta Stone needs the centralized management and compliance policy features in Slack Enterprise, which comes with licensing costs. And he has concerns about how Atlassian will transition not just customer data but customer licenses and support agreements into Slack.

“Slack is a small company, so I don’t know what its support is like,” Burnett said. “I know Atlassian now has a small stake in Slack, but I’m also not sure how they’ll do the transition [to Slack] and what will happen to existing [Atlassian HipChat] contracts.”

For Atlassian customers who use monthly billing, instances of HipChat and Stride will continue to function until the customer terminates monthly billing, or until February 15th, 2019, whichever comes first, according to a company FAQ. Annual licenses will not be auto-renewed after July 26, 2018, and customers who choose to renew licenses will only be able to do so through February 15, 2019. In the meantime, a Migration Hub page has instructions to migrate from HipChat to Slack, but there’s no mention of how licenses carry over or how support agreements will work. Atlassian indicated on that page that it can’t currently migrate from Stride to Slack, but that this is “coming soon.” The page also doesn’t offer a clear answer about existing HipChat licenses that don’t expire before the Feb 15 cutoff date, or how the companies will collaborate, if at all, on Slack support once Atlassian customers are migrated.

Moyer said he’d prefer to see Atlassian and Slack merge HipChat functionality into Slack, or make a compatible HipChat client for Slack instead of discontinuing the product outright.

“Just dropping HipChat entirely might reflect poorly on other services Atlassian has, if they decide it’s better to just stop supporting and completely drop services,” Moyer said.

This also means less competition in ChatOps, which makes it more likely for Slack to get gobbled up by another company such as Google and merged into another existing product, Moyer said. Google also launched a latecomer to the ChatOps market in March 2018.