Cloud or Server Atlassian: what’s the difference?

Written by Rina Nir

Switch to Atlassian Cloud

Server is on its way out, Atlassian Cloud is in

The Atlassian world will soon evolve forever. On October 2020, Atlassian announced that they’re accelerating their journey to the cloud. Over the next three years, they will phase out their Server product range. What does that mean for existing customers? Is relying on Atlassian Cloud or Server the right move for your team? This article will bring you up to speed on the differences between Atlassian Server and Atlassian Cloud. As well as the strengths of each system and why you may want to make the switch to Atlassian cloud.

What’s are the differences between Atlassian Cloud or Server?

Whether to switch to Atlassian Cloud is a decision with factors unique to each organization. Self-managed servers offer advantages in terms of data locality and control. You have complete control of your own server. This is especially beneficial for organizations that operate within highly regulated industries. For whom unexpected updates or back ups may stunt their projects.

The Atlassian Data-Center variant (like Jira Data-Center) is a self-managed installation. It supports redundancy and high availability features. Features such as the option to run a multi-node configuration. While Atlassian declared the EOL (End of Life) of their Server range, the Data Center offering will still be available.

Cloud products are designed with speed and productivity in mind. They let teams get up and running quickly and limit administrative overhead. They also infrastructure costs, whilst remaining secure. Jira cloud puts the task of managing servers and data storage in the hands of the vendors. This saves you money and labor power over time. It refocuses your team on its mission instead of server maintenance.

What is driving customers to switch to Atlassian Cloud?

By checking out recent SaaS trends, we can see how organizations have increasingly switched to cloud products over the past few years. Organisations are making the switch for advantages, such as:

  1. Increased innovation and speed due to faster setup and instant scalability.
  2. Improved productivity as there is no need to worry about maintenance and updates.
  3. Enhanced security features such as built-in data security access controls, encryption, and disaster recovery tools. This is especially true for medium and smaller companies. Such companies do not always have the means to maintain highly technical expertise in-house.
  4. Higher flexibility due to teams’ ability to access projects from anywhere and on any device.
  5. Reduced administrative and infrastructure costs with the absence of physical hardware and hidden costs

Risks and Areas of Concern

These are points where a Cloud installation are limited compared to a self-managed solution. They should be of particular interest to anyone operating in a highly regulated environment.

  1. Apps represent a potential security hazard. It requires a due process before any installs. Most Jira instances rely on apps external to the Atlassian infrastructure. While the Atlassian infrastructure is secure and certified, third-party vendors may not have the same guarantees. This may present a potential vulnerability. It is important to note that these Apps typically run on their own infrastructure – not Atlassian’s.
  2. Choosing the location of your data. Atlassian optimizes the location of customer data based on where it’s accessed. Let’s use an example. If most users access Jira Cloud instances from Europe, their data routes through Atlassian’s European regions. A better data residency offering is coming soon, at least to the Enterprise tier. Watch out for it if that’s important for your business.
  3. Backing up your system. Atlassian cloud sites allow you to back-up the system only every 48h. This may be too long for your team. You have to make external backups. Atlassian’s backup only exists to defend against system crashes and disasters. It cannot deliberately roll back changes.
  4. Scheduling Updates. On Atlassian Cloud, it is Atlassian who decides when to release new versions. You may get caught off-guard by the new features brought about by an update. Not to mention the bugs that can emerge afterwards.
  5. Atlassian Security: Atlassian uses AWS infrastructure. If you trust AWS with other business-critical data, then you can trust Atlassian Cloud. In most cases, Atlassian has superior expertise and security resources compared to other companies. Each organization will have to decide whether the security provided by Atlassian and their App vendors is sufficient.

You may find Atlassian’s security certificates on their website.

Compatible Apps

If you’re looking for more information on which apps are compatible with Atlassian Cloud, you’re in the right place. Many of the apps which you may have come rely on in your process may not survive the shift. Some apps designed to work with Atlassian server may not work with – or as effectively with – the cloud. We wrote an article on finding your best options for a Jira Cloud eSignature app. If your work involves signing off on Jira issues, I firmly recommend checking it out.

Making the Choice

Faced with server and cloud, organisations will need to be open-minded and flexible to navigate the upcoming changes. The stability of self-managed servers? The flexibility of cloud? Understanding Jira Compliance? Those best adapted to deal with changes may see the opportunity in joining the SaaS revolution. They – or perhaps you – may harness the power of the cloud to transform your organization or your industry


Blog posts in this series:

  1. Compliance, Jira Core and the Atlassian Cloud
  2. Find Your Best Options for a Jira Cloud eSignature
  3. How to Sign Jira Issues with DocuSign
  4. Signing off on Jira: Adobe Sign can help you sign off

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