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Atlassian Remote Summit: our highlights

Walter BuggenhoutWalter Buggenhout

Around this time of year, Atlassian always hosts its biggest event of the year: Atlassian Summit. If you want real news about what’s going on in the world of Atlassian, ask your questions to Atlassian leadership, get in touch with any marketplace vendor out there, meet and talk with fellow Atlassian customers, Summit is THE event to attend. So obviously, the ticket to Vegas had already been booked when we received the sad news that an in-person event of that size was not going to happen this year. However, in six weeks time the event was converted into a fully remote experience and still took place. In this blog post, I’d like to highlight some of the key takeaways of the Atlassian Remote Summit, starting with my personal experience of remotely attending the event.

Atlassian Remote Summit blog post

Attending the Atlassian Remote Summit

The public agenda hosted two keynote sessions with a strong focus on product news and – of course – remote teams. Open chatrooms offered an opportunity to talk with product specialists from Atlassian and the main event sponsors. Several on demand product demos were available to showcase the most important new product features across the entire tool stack. And dozens of breakout sessions that were originally been planned for the in person event had been recorded and were also offered on demand.

As a Community Leader, I enjoyed the privilege to be part of an extended experience which lasted the entire week. On top of the regular agenda, I was also included in small group workshops with Atlassian’s co-founders Mike and Scott, product leadership of both Cloud and Data Center products, the Community Advisory Board and lots of fellow Community Leaders.

It goes without saying that the event did not have the same energy as a regular Atlassian Summit. Meeting face to face is something we all dearly miss these days. But while we are all in it, let’s keep making the best of it and learn a couple of things to retain once we’re starting to go back to normal. Along that line, everyone involved did a hell of a job to put up an online event of this scale. Huge props to them!

Product news

On Premise

Data Center on a single node

Over the last couple of years, investments in the products you host on your own infrastructure have mainly been oriented towards Data Center. Those investments led to issue and project archiving, custom field optimizing in Jira, Read Only mode in Confluence or smart mirroring in Bitbucket. New enterprise grade capabilities have been added across scale, performance, security and compliance:

The case for Data Center was built around performance and stability at scale. Basically you would set up an infrastructure with several virtual or physical machines – or nodes – to eliminate the potential single point of failure that your single application server normally is. By adding a load balancer and spreading the workload of your applications across those different nodes, a significant boost in performance and stability is obtained. 

Atlassian Remote Summit blog post

With the architecture in place, the Data Center team has added quite a few features – some of which I mentioned above – to also enhance the admin experience of the product. Obviously those features are potentially very beneficial to server customers too, but unlocking them until now meant you also had to migrate to a clustered architecture. And that implied additional infrastructure cost and a carefully planned migration track.

As announced in this Atlassian Product blog post, unlocking Data Center features can now be done simply by switching to a Data Center license on your existing server architecture.

Just be careful though, as there’s a couple of caveats. The blog post story cheerfully goes that unlocking enterprise value is now a 2 minute process. Be careful though as upgrading your Jira or Confluence product to a Data Center license means that your Marketplace apps also need to be upgraded. We are happy to help you make the necessary assessments if you are considering to make the move.

More goodies

More features have been released or are being investigated. Anonymizing users is now possible in Jira for GDPR compliance. Coming soon to Jira Service Desk are a multi-lingual customer portal, improved service desk queues with sorting and bulk editing and linking capabilities. A very powerful integration between Jira Service Desk and OpsGenie will provide an amazing incident management solution across your team’s service desk and monitoring tools. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

For more product news on Server and Data Center, I urge you to check out this overview on Atlassian Community.

Cloud

Atlassian’s company mission to unleash the potential of every team translates into a clear ambition regarding cloud:

Over time, our goal is to deliver our strongest offering in the cloud, that meets our enterprise customers’ needs for security, compliance, privacy, and administration at enterprise scale, while continuously and rapidly innovating the features across these products.

Over the years we have seen the focus of Summit keynotes change. My first visit to Summit back in 2015 will always be the one where co-founders Mike and Scott kicked off their keynote disguised as Daft Punk. It was the unveiling of DJ Kanban, not only a DJ but also a Jira Kanban board powering the beats of many Atlassian events to come. It was also the year where an important milestone was announced: 50% of Atlassian customers were for the first time using at least one cloud product.

The next couple of years, Cloud has taken its place front and center on stage. Summit now has 2 keynote sessions instead of one. The first one is about Cloud only. And it may well be that 2020 will be the year to really start considering the option for real. As of May, a new Cloud plan designed for enterprises (customers with 1,000+ users) of Jira Software, Jira Service Desk and Confluence will be introduced, along with an Early Access Program. The plan will contain Cloud Premium features and deliver new and enhanced capabilities across governance, administration, billing, and more, that are specifically designed for enterprises. Furthermore, it enables our products to seamlessly integrate with our customers’ existing tools and processes.

Cloud premium will soon be equipped with features like:

Within the next couple of months, it seems the most important functional blockers to move from server to cloud might be gradually removed.

Having said that, another big hurdle to move to the Cloud is the fact that the process of migrating itself is a huge, time consuming challenge. Last year, a migration tool for Confluence was released to enhance the process and has been installed more than 55,000 times since. Likewise, early March the Jira Cloud Migration assistent was launched into the Marketplace as well. The tool is far from complete, but is already pretty useful to help you assess the complexity of your migration and migrate data on a project by project basis. Atlassian and the main Marketplace Partners are working closely together to find solutions to also migrate app data.

Moving to the Cloud can take away the burden of supporting and maintaining your own infrastructure and systems, freeing up time and resources to spend on things that matter more. However, migrating is hard. Tools to support the migration are currently being developed, but apart from those tools you also need to assess, plan, prepare, test and execute carefully. The best advice we can give consists of just 7 words: “don’t be afraid to ask for help”. We are happy to assist where we can and connect you to additional resources if needs be.

Remote teams

The unprecedented events that we are all currently living through these days have a huge impact on each and every one of us. We all realise ourselves that we are only getting through this together, by teaming up. Having a common enemy unites people around a clear and common goal: to come out on top, no matter what it takes.

Most of us have been forced into remote work, here in Belgium for the last 5 weeks now and for at least 2 more weeks to come. (Read about how we organize remote work as an IT company here!) While some countries are now taking first steps to open up their schools, their shops, their economies and their lives, we know that there will be something post-pandemic. But let us hope that some of the good things will keep standing for many years in the future.

Atlassian Remote Summit blog post

Let’s embrace the fact that working from home saves some of us up to 2 hours a day or more commuting. Let the tools and practices we are discovering hands-on help us move into totally new debates around mobility and work-life balance and climate. Let’s enjoy the fact that limitations drive creativity and innovation. And let’s not forget how strong we can be together, as a team.

When asked about how Atlassian is dealing with the corona crisis, Mike Cannon-Brookes told us how they had to onboard 145 new people in a single day, all remote and at home locations all over the world. All but 2 had their laptop and were connected to the company systems they needed by the end of the day. “Not bad”, he added. But giving people their gear is just a small start to getting them on board. Building teams is easier when you can over them a great toolset, but even more important are the people themselves and the practices they use. To quote Mike once more:

“Our thoughts are now in the very first place with our people. If we cannot take care of them first, what else could we possibly take care of”

While we are remote from our families, from our team mates, we clearly feel the challenges of being disconnected. I guess we all long for the moment that we will be able again to meet in person, talk in person, tap each other on the shoulder for real, hug, … But we can also see that the philosophy of Open work is really crucial to keep connected. Atlassian research presented at Summit 2019 showed how an open work-style is a common thread between high achieving teams. Creating shared context around work, encouraging direct feedback and providing access to information are cornerstones to build an open mindset and culture. Organisations and teams lacking such an approach will most likely feel the pain harder now as they are remote. But even teams who try to be open will see that this is hard.

As we keep believing that unleashing the potential of teams requires a magic mix of the best people, practices and tools, we continue to deepen our expertise in all those areas. And if all goes well, we would love to share what we learn with all of you in late September / early October in a big in-person event, together with several of our partners. Let’s hope we can do that together. In the meantime, stay safe and stay in touch!

More Atlassian goodness:

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