to the Cloud

On old versions of Jira and Confluence? What is the upgrade path?

As a business, you have enough to do with keeping the lights on and expanding to new customers. Don't let being on super old versions of Jira and Confluence discourage from migrating to the cloud. You know it's what the business needs, but you cannot readily find information about how to upgrade to a newer version that allows migrating to the cloud to be a much smoother process. News flash! Atlassian only provides upgrade path information back to a specific version. But RenWare's certified experts have kept detailed information on upgrades paths for the past (15) years.

Engagement Overview

While the client had a small Atlassian footprint by industry standards, they identified significant savings if they migrated to the cloud and eliminated their support and infrastructure costs. They did not have an in-house Atlassian expert so it made support, making changes, and keeping the products and installed apps up to date very challenging.

The client acknowledged that today's world is more cloud based than ever before. There are more high quality, third-party cloud products that integrate with Atlassian's cloud platform that are not available to integrate with the on-prem platform--at least not easily.

The client was on "extremely" old versions of both Jira and Confluence. The absence of a true Atlassian administrator meant that developers were being pulled from their daily work to support the upgrades. However, the client informed us that the upgrades rarely went smooth and became a time-suck and impacted the resource's ability to complete their primary tasks on time. So they just gave up and went with the "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mentality.

The client's vision and the unforeseen

Like most organizations, our client knew the future was the cloud. The problem was they were a small Atlassian environment and could understand why platinum Atlassian partners were quoting them over $120k and eight months for the project. They decided to check out gold level Atlassian partners and were still being quoted an insane $80k - $104k and six months for completion. Luckily, the client eventually found RenWare and after speaking with our team of certified experts, decided to move forward with us as our rates were reasonable and our timeline was four months.

Working with Atlassian since they came into the business world in 2002, our team of experts have seen a lot of situations, even on the extreme side of things. However, none of us had ever encountered a client on versions of Jira and Confluence that were so old that we could not easily find the installation packages for those versions. To further complicate things, the versions were so old that Atlassian did not have a documented upgrade path to the latest version that was more compatible with the latest version of the cloud software. But again, RenWare's team is the best in the industry so we took this challenge head on and created a path to the cloud so the client could experience the new features and functionality.

The RenWare Way

To get the project started, the team had to locate the necessary versions of that were so old, they were not readily available on Atlassian's site. Even more challenging, the team had to communicate with marketplace vendors to obtain the old versions of their apps--many of them had to be zipped up and were no longer supported. Once the team collected all of the necessary versions, we had to then create an upgrade path for it all. Ultimately, we did just that and kept the engagement moving forward.

At RenWare, we pride ourselves on not disrupting the clients day-to-day business activities and its resources. To accomplish this goal, we request a backup from the client and restore it to  our lab. Doing this allows the client to continue working and the environmental and upgrade challenges falls to our team. In our lab, we can standup, modify, delete, and reset the hardware, software, apps, etc. and configure things at will. No need to bother the client's administrators with these tasks and they love us for this.

The client had a hybrid of User Directories (UDs); (2) internal UDs and (2) external UDs. The main UD was connected to the client’s Active Directory (AD) system and was configured in a manner that it pulled all users and groups that lived in AD. After merging all of the UDs into a single UD, internal UD we were able to perform some cleanup work such as removing old, inactive accounts and removing duplicate email addresses. While the on-prem platform relies on usernames, the cloud relies on email addresses. Any duplicates get flagged during the migration process and prevents the migration from moving forward, so we always check for this to avoid issues. 

Tools are wonderful until they're not. After capturing the proper upgrades paths for all products and apps, the team installed the Jira and Confluence migration assistants. However, our team of certified experts noticed odd behavior in the Confluence assistant where we were getting different outcomes around the attachments when the migration assistant was executed against the exact same data. We captured our findings and presented them to Atlassian's development team. Working closely with Atlassian, we were able to determine the root cause and Atlassian patched things up and got us on our way.

Quick shoutout to the Atlassian development team for their willingness to hear us out, fix the bugs, and implement our suggestions to improve the migration assistants. 

Due to the challenges we experienced with the upgrade paths and the Confluence migration assistant, we added an additional three test runs for a total of seven. This may sound like overkill, but the importance of testing cannot be overstated. The more testing that is performed, the better the final migration will be. Detailed testing ensures the final runbooks are accurate and thoroughly vetted. Even with the use of the migration assistants, there is still a need for manual intervention. For example, the migration assistants attempt to tell you what's wrong prior to migrating, but they do not fix the issues on their own. With migrations, especially those that are more complex, proper testing simply saves time and ensures a smooth cutover for the users.

The Result

While our RenWare team has successfully completed hundreds of migrations to the cloud, this one was unique due to the extremely old versions of the Atlassian products and apps as well as the messy User Directory situation. That said, we delivered the results the client wanted with zero data loss. All users migrated successfully and their permissions remained intact. All attachments, historical data, parent/child relationships, links between issues and integration points were successfully maintained. Training was required for this engagement to bring the users up to speed with the cloud.

As usual, our delivery team of certified experts always look to ways to provide the client with complete solutions. The team assisted the client with re-integrating their cloud instances with their on-prem Bitbucket instance, mentored their loose team of administrators on the proper use of Atlassian Access, and helped them connect Atlassian Access to the new Single Sign-on (SSO) solution.

The client was appreciative to the RenWare team because they apparently had attempted to migrate to newer environment with newer, faster hardware, but they had to scrap the idea because they could not locate the correct versions of the Atlassian products and apps to replicate the old environment. This is the benefit of working with Atlassian partners like RenWare because we have additional capabilities that the normal Atlassian customer would not have available to them.

"I was happy that I took the time to shop around as RenWare not only successfully completed the project, but I also saved 82% over what other Atlassian partners quoted me. Should I have future Atlassian needs, I'll be sure to engage with RenWare again."  - VP, Development Services & Business Systems

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