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Atlassian Launches JIRA 7 Platform with Three Standalone JIRA Editions

| by Steffen Opel Follow 3 Followers on Oct 08, 2015. Estimated reading time: 8 minutes |

Development and collaboration software vendor Atlassian released version 7 of its project tracking application JIRA as three new standalone products: JIRA Core, JIRA Software and JIRA Service Desk. All three products are build atop a common platform to better serve non-technical business teams, development teams as well as IT and other service teams with an edition tailored to each team’s needs.

The three new JIRA editions can be purchased separately, but still installed together to provide a unified JIRA instance for an entire organization. Notably the numbers of licensed users per installed edition are accumulative, which makes it simpler to scale an installation on demand without paying for features that are not needed by every user (JIRA Core can be used with all other editions as well):

  • JIRA Software incorporates the former Agile add-on and provides "agile best practices as defaults and deep integration with development tools". Common use cases are, in addition to development and project management, the tracking of design and quality assurance activities.
  • JIRA Service Desk incorporates the former Service Desk add-on and provides a "user-focused service desk for IT and other service teams".
  • JIRA Core comprises the former JIRA without use case specific add-ons and provides "simplified task tracking and processes for business teams such as human resources, finance, and marketing". Common use cases are onboarding of employees, managing quarter end close and tracking of advertising campaigns.

JIRA Software Agile Board

Atlassian releases new features in an ongoing and agile fashion, so many of the new features have been partially available already and have now been promoted as the new default user experience across all JIRA editions, most notably:

  • A consistent project experience, which provides the same look and feel and underlying functionality for software, IT, and business teams.
  • Purpose built project templates categorized by JIRA edition, enabling out of the box customizable default workflows. Furthermore, it is now possible to "share the configuration of an existing with a new project", and JIRA Service Desk now provides a dedicated "IT Service Desk project template for change and incident management".
  • A sidebar that can be customized by teams to have one-click navigation to their assets, such as product requirements in Confluence, HipChat rooms, Bitbucket repositories, or external services.

InfoQ spoke with Anutthara Bharadwaj (Group Product Manager JIRA) about the restructuring of Atlassian’s flagship product offerings.

InfoQ: Can you tell us what motivated the decision to separate your most successful product into three separate offerings?

Bharadwaj: JIRA's heritage is in helping technical teams better manage shared workflows. As non-technical members of software teams got exposure to how powerful JIRA is at collaborating around shared projects they started adopting JIRA to satisfy all types of project tracking needs. We first saw that with IT teams and more recently in 2014 did a survey that revealed that in addition to software teams JIRA was also being used for marketing, finance and HR projects.

Delivering three purpose-built products allows us to specifically address the project management needs of different teams.

InfoQ: How are these new offerings presented to users, can they just start with any application and add additional functionality as needed?

Bharadwaj: Because JIRA Software, JIRA Service Desk, and JIRA Core are standalone products, customers will be able to purchase them as separate products. Teams at the same company […] will be able to switch between projects and access items across projects regardless of which JIRA product they initially started using.

InfoQ: You have put a lot of effort into unifying the look and feel and restructuring the main navigation around a new sidebar and purpose built project templates. Can you elaborate a bit on the driving factors and benefits for the user here?

Bharadwaj: We’ve designed the new sidebar so that everything a software, IT, or business team needs when managing a project workflow is only one-click away. The new sidebar also allows teams to add custom links and personalize the space with useful items - anything from Confluence page specs to HipChat rooms to code repositories.

The sidebar experience is consistent across all products, enabling teams to access what they need to collaborate. For example, in JIRA Software, we focused on delivering a new project experience that makes every key screen–planning, tracking, releasing, and reporting only one-click away. All the capabilities that are essential for team members are now front and center in JIRA and available from anywhere in the product.

InfoQ: You claim that JIRA has evolved into a tool for every team - what makes it so valuable that everyone might want to use a variation of it?

Bharadwaj: Teams have chosen JIRA for the flexibility of its customizable workflow engine, which enables teams to systematically plan, track, and organize their workflows and projects. With the addition of the new tailored experiences for different teams, from Scrum and Kanban boards for software teams, to prioritized queues for service and IT teams, to approval processes for business teams, the things that a specific team needs are ready to go out of the box. Still JIRA continues to deliver the same flexibility that allows users to customize it to the unique needs of their team.

It is important to note that for business teams the primary way projects are still tracked is email or excel, which is entirely inefficient. The significant adoption of JIRA outside of software use cases was strong evidence that all teams are looking for a better way to manage their workflows. The introduction of the new JIRA products is really us following what our customers are already doing with JIRA - we have just now made it even easier to use and specific for teams.

InfoQ: The new JIRA Software incorporates the formerly separate add-on JIRA Agile. Does this imply that you think you have identified an approach to agile that will work for any software team?

Bharadwaj: JIRA is used by thousands of agile software teams, which does give us a unique perspective into best practices. We built JIRA Software with those insights in mind. That means if you are using agile methodology - be it for a long time or just getting started - it is now even easier to manage agile workflows. While JIRA Software comes with smart agile defaults it has been built to support any team with its ability to customize and extend.

InfoQ: JIRA Core does not include any kind of Kanban board to visualize a bounded context of issues, for example a marketing campaign - is this really something business teams are not interested in?

Bharadwaj: Through our customer research we discovered that only some business teams were using boards, most were using JIRA because they loved the workflows. Some teams would use them as-is and others would customize them to match the way their team works. In the first release of JIRA Core we focused on project templates and will consider adding Kanban boards in the future if we see demand from our customers.

InfoQ: An installation with more than one of the new products still runs as a single server - how are upgrades going to be handled from an administrative perspective, do all three products have synchronized release cycles for example?

Bharadwaj: Customers can still have one instance to run multiple products. With each offering being truly independent, each product will have its own release cycle moving forward.

InfoQ: How will customers be migrated to the new product structure, is this something that makes upgrading to JIRA 7 more complex than usual?

Bharadwaj: Customers will migrate to the new product structure as they have done in the past from one current version to the next release. For example, JIRA or JIRA + JIRA Agile customers will be able to upgrade to JIRA Software.

InfoQ: JIRA has always thrived through its diverse add-on ecosystem, how will this product split affect the ability to extensively customize JIRA, be it for in house solutions or via third party add-ons?

Bharadwaj: Like all Atlassian products, JIRA has been built to be extensible for any developer to build add-ons quickly and efficiently through our extension frameworks, and this is not changing. In fact, third party developers have even more opportunity to build add-ons tailored to our three focus markets going forward.

InfoQ: Can third parties implement entire applications atop this new JIRA platform too?

Bharadwaj: JIRA is now a platform that can support multiple products for different teams. We plan to open the JIRA platform to third-party developers with domain expertise who could choose to build new products for additional types of teams in the future.

 

The highly requested JIRA Service Desk REST API is not part of this release already, but on the roadmap. Bharadwaj also confirmed Atlassian to be working on a JIRA Service Desk Data Center edition and said that Atlassian will have more to share regarding both features by the end of year. She concluded the interview with Atlassian's vision for team collaboration:

We have become a part of the DNA of software teams by building software that makes it much easier to collaborate around shared work. With the new JIRA products we are doubling down on our investment in software teams, but our goal as a company is to transform collaboration for all teams. JIRA Service Desk and JIRA Core are an important step in helping us reach all teams trying to accomplish something great together.

 

JIRA Core, JIRA Software and JIRA Service Desk are available as Cloud (Atlassian-hosted) and Server (self-hosted) editions. Atlassian provides a JIRA 7 migration hub to assist customers in upgrading to the edition that is appropriate for their current configuration. The hub offers separate sections for product, admin, licensing and user management changes, and a post-update checklist.

JIRA Core is priced similar to JIRA 6, JIRA Software is priced similar to JIRA 6 plus the former JIRA Agile add-on, and JIRA Service Desk pricing has been reduced from $25 to $20 per agent/month. Support resources are offered via the Atlassian support portal, feature requests and bug reports can also be submitted to the JIRA, JIRA Software and JIRA Service Desk projects in Atlassian’s public issue tracker.

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Better product centric could be better by Erik Gollot

To my mind, an orientation that could be developed is a product centric view of jira-projects. And a link with jira-projects that represent a Project that have impacts on multiple products. This is the real situation of any IT organizations.

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