Atlassian recently introduced a read-only mode for Confluence providing users with continuous access to the system, even during maintenance downtimes; while Jira now offers a project archiving feature giving users more administrative control. Good news, right? Well, some might see a catch here…
Both of these new features are only available for Data Center, but not for the popular solutions, Confluence Service and Jira Software Server. This might have led to some head scratching amongst customers. Let's take look at how Atlassian prioritizes new features and how Atlassian decides when a new feature will be released for which of the two deployment options and why.
Audiences and criteria
Be it for Jira Software, Jira Service Desk, Confluence, Bitbucket, Crowd or Hipchat, Atlassian uses this feature prioritization process for all its products. First and foremost, it is based on a detailed understanding of the key audiences for each option and their specific needs.
Atlassian’s original deployment option, Server, enables customers to download Atlassian software onto a single, self-managed server. This option offers a wide range of apps for customization, making it suitable for teams of almost any size.
The second option, Data Center, is mostly aimed at larger, often global corporations, which require a reliable and stable deployment service with high availability, performance at scale, and instant scalability. In addition, it should be capable of running on the company’s own data center or on top of an Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Based on their understanding of these customer groups, Atlassian then uses two important criteria to decide which of the two deployment options they will equip with a new feature. Firstly, they consider whether the feature is in line with one or more of the Data Center core requirements. Secondly, they look at who will benefit from the new feature. Let’s now take a closer look at each of these criteria.
In line with the Data Center benefits?
As a response to feedback from enterprise clients, Data Center was designed for companies who use Atlassian applications on a large scale for business-critical operations. So, it is clear to see why this forms a key part in the decision-making process around new features. As such, the first step is to assess whether the new feature is in line with Data Center’s benefits, by asking questions such as, “Does this feature provide customers with greater peace of mind thanks to high availability or disaster recovery?”, “Does it enhance performance at scale?”, or “Does it allow administrative control at scale?”.
Who will benefit?
Another important aspect of the prioritization process is considering which users a new feature will help, whereby Atlassian considers four different roles: End users, project, repository or space administrators, global administrators, and system administrators.
Features that benefit end users, project, repository administrators, or space administrators are usually implemented in both Data Center and Server. An example of this is the collaborative editing feature in Confluence. This feature serves end users on both platforms and is available to all Server customers.
On the other hand, features that would help global administrators are likely to be introduced to Data Center alone, as they would mostly benefit those companies that use the software at scale. One such example is the smart mirroring in Bitbucket, designed to enhance performance on a global scale. It accelerates remote cloning times and speeds up development by configuring mirror servers to use read-only copies of repositories in remote locations.
In addition, features related to infrastructure as required by system administrators also tend to be Data Center-only features, for example, the read-only mode in Confluence mentioned at the beginning of this article. This feature addresses Data Center customers’ need for high availability and benefits system administrators by reducing the impact of planned downtime on end users.
One last example of a Data Center-only feature is project archiving in Jira Software. This feature aims to provide customers with value for performance at scale by giving them increased administrative control on an enterprise-wide scale.
What’s next for Data Center?
Atlassian has been working on introducing new features and improving functionality in Data Center ever since its introduction, and will continue to invest in line with customers’ needs in the future. But this does not mean that the Server deployment options will be left by the wayside. New features will be added continually to the benefit of end users and lower-level administrators. However, Data Center is and will remain the best solution for business-critical operations in enterprises. We hope that this guide to the Atlassian feature prioritization process will help you to understand feature roadmaps for each deployment option and their alignment with the requirements of their respective customers.
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