Jira Migration Best Practices

Jira migration can be a challenge for any organization. Questions are bound to come up as migration planning and preparation make way. We’ve brought in top industry expert Rachel Wright for a Q&A on getting started and best practices for Jira migrations.

Rachel Wright is an expert who specializes in Jira. But the Atlassian server decommission spans their entire portfolio of tools, so be sure to check out the Atlassian Community or Atlassian’s “Journey to Cloud” page for more information.

Q: My organization hasn’t done anything to prepare for migration yet. What should I do?

It’s time to have a discussion with stakeholders. There’s never a perfect time to migrate, but sooner is usually better than later. There are risks to migrating and risks to not migrating as well. Migrations are complex, require careful planning and execution, and impact business operations with some level of downtime.

If you’re not a migration expert, you’ll want to work with someone who is. And you’ll want to find the right solution and tools to help you with this process.

Tip: Download The Ultimate Guide to Jira Migrations: How to migrate from Jira Server to Data Center or Cloud, our free 200-page master resource to answer all your migration questions and provide a comprehensive plan to follow.

Q: What is the difference between Atlassian Cloud and Data Center products?

In short: Data Center products are installed and managed by the customer on their own infrastructure, while Cloud products are hosted and managed by Atlassian on the cloud. There are three deployment types: Server, Data Center, and Cloud. Each type has a different user interface, features, capabilities, terminology, and app availability. 

Data Center is best for organizations with existing IT infrastructure, strict compliance and governance requirements, and mission-critical environments. It offers features for high availability, redundancy, and disaster recovery. Migrating to Data Center is also the easier path, especially if you need to migrate quickly. 

For organizations that go the Data Center route, “migration” may be as simple as applying a new DC license key for Jira and your apps. There’s no physical movement of data or configurations unless you’re taking the opportunity to clean up tech debt or consolidate disparate server instances as part of the project.

On the other hand, Cloud is best for organizations that do not want to maintain their own web server, mail server, and database, are already using other cloud tools, and want immediate access to the newest features.

The benefits of migrating to Cloud include enhanced security, greater reliability, and more speed. And it’s easier to manage. Continuous updates help you increase productivity on an ongoing basis. And with Atlassian’s commitment to further invest in Cloud services, customers who choose to migrate to Cloud will continue to be taken care of long after their migration is complete.

Q: What potential risks or challenges are associated with a Jira migration? 

Migration becomes more challenging due to increasing amounts of data, usability differences between hosting types that can result in slow user adoption, compressed timelines, billing changes, and more. And, as with any big change, there are risks to be aware of – things like lengthy downtime, potential data loss, and deployment errors.

Ideally, you’re proactively considering migration and have plenty of time to think, research, and plan this process. But we know some of you don’t have that luxury. Instead, you’re responding to Atlassian’s decommission notification, an emergency, repeated downtime incidents, or a critical piece of hardware or software is suddenly broken or unsupported. If that’s your situation, take a deep breath. You will get through it! We’ve all survived Jira emergencies, and so will you. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and strengthen for the next challenge.

The best way to mitigate risk is to spend the majority of your time in the planning and testing project phases. Start by understanding your application’s settings and customizations. Clean up any unneeded old configuration data or content before migration.

Apply tools such as Power Admin for Jira, giving you insight into your configurations. See how your Jira configurations are used across all projects and then edit, merge, or delete configurations systemwide from the same screen. Then, easily rid your instance of broken configurations, missing references, and duplicates with Integrity Check for Jira. Once cleanup is complete, you are ready to develop a solid execution and testing plan. After migration, don’t forget to double-check any access or security settings. Make sure training is part of the post-deployment plan to improve adoption and the user experience.

Q: Where do I even begin with Jira migration?

Migration is all about the process. There are steps to move through, and being careful and methodical will set you up to troubleshoot any problems that arise along the way. We like to break migration down into five stages:

  • Plan
  • Prep
  • Test
  • Execute
  • After

Each of these stages contains specific steps. Before moving into the testing stage, let’s address some of the migration planning and preparation steps.

Identify stakeholdersCreate a checklist for testing, execution, and post-migration phases
Get buy-in from leadershipConfiguration inventory and assessment
Get approval and signoff for the plane and timelinesBack up production instance
Set up project documentation and tracking spaceClean up duplicate fields or missing objects
Identify project managerArchive old projects

Walking your team through these migration steps can be tedious, but important. Refer to your preparation checklist often as a guide, and you are less likely to encounter migration issues.

Q: I’ve planned everything out – but what if something goes wrong?

Despite being prepared, organizations often underestimate a migrations time and complexity. Having many users, schemes, and apps always equals more migration time. Allow more time than you think you’ll need, especially in the planning and testing phases.

Remember, your upfront effort will determine the success of your migration. You can also work with solution partners to help simplify any complex and time-consuming migration efforts. They may suggest apps like Jira Command Line Interface (CLI) to help you identify and clean up unused or inactive configuration objects or even fix broken links. Jira CLI can help you identify critical issues quickly and make bulk changes on the fly mid-migration.

Tip: Craft a project time estimate and then double it! Migrations are always more complex and take longer than you think.

Q: What are the best ways to handle data migration? Do I have to manually export and import all my data from Server/DC to the Cloud?

There are multiple migration tools to consider. For Jira, the main Cloud migration tools are the Configuration Manager Cloud Migration Tool, the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, and the Jira Site Import tool. Consider Atlassian Command Line Interface (ACLI) and Power Scripts to automate your processes and handle more complex scenarios. These tools help you automate manual tasks, clean up and modify data at scale, or perform bulk imports/exports. ACLI features hundreds of bulk operations and options to filter Jira data based on logic. Power Scripts lets you analyze and clean up data before automating the process to reduce tech debt.

Tip: Before implementing any new or existing applications in your migration process, take stock of your tech debt (deficiencies in your infrastructure that accrue over time). Some applications require multiple upgrades to catch up to the latest version, or there are recurring performance or instability issues, or when there’s a lot of old data that’s no longer needed. Consider a deep clean of your source applications or even starting fresh in Cloud with a new, clean application in these situations.

Q: Will users need to create new accounts or reset their passwords, or will their existing Jira accounts be transferred automatically?

The Configuration Manager Cloud Migration Tool and the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant both handle the needed username changes. (Usernames must change to email format for Cloud.) If you choose a different migration method, you’ll need to address users, groups, and group membership as a specific part of your migration plan. 

Q: Which objects and data are supported in my migration?

You can safely assume that all objects and data supported in Server will also be supported in Data Center during a move to Data Center. If you’re moving to Cloud, your answer depends on which migration tool you use. A list of supported objects can be found in the documentation for each migration app. To see the supported list for Configuration Manager Cloud Migration Tool, go here. For Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, go here. 

If you want to get more granular and even migrate data like links to issues or entities that are not migrated, consider an app like Power Scripts, which can help you migrate specific objects.

Q: What will happen to user objects (filters, boards, dashboards, subscriptions) in the server application? Will these be preserved in the target application, or will users need to reconfigure their settings?

Your user settings, like avatars, favorites, and properties, are not transferred to the target application, but it’s easy to have users recreate them.

Tip: Record the names of your most frequently accessed areas, boards, and favorite objects. For example, any “recently accessed” history, like in navigation menus, is not migrated.

Q: What are some Jira migration misconceptions?

Migration is quick, simple, and there’s no strategy needed. Migration is not a quick and easy weekend activity. While the actual transfer of data may not take that long, the process of preparing to move the data and testing the results often takes weeks or months.

Q: What if my organization decides not to migrate?

While it’s possible to do nothing and work around any functionality challenges and software slowdowns while continuing to use the decommissioned applications, we don’t recommend it. Waiting will guarantee a future emergency.

By migrating now, your organization can take advantage of new features or technical advances not previously available. You may also reduce overhead and save money by consolidating hosting strategies for internal applications. You may gain other efficiencies, too. For example, you may require less IT staff, be able to consolidate applications and accounts, and more. Finally, you may be able to take advantage of special migration-related pricing. Read more about Cloud set-up credits and Data Center loyalty discounts.

Q: We’ve completed our migration! What should we do next?

Congratulations! That was likely a great effort. Now it’s time to help end users understand the changes, fix any migration errors, address any application setting clean-up needs, and decommission the source application.

Want more guidance on your migration process? Reach out to a solution partner – check out some of Appfire’s top partners!

Are you interested in a more in-depth migration explanation? Download The ultimate guide to Jira migrations.

Last updated: 2023-07-31

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