• Deploying Atlassian tools for the Enterprise

    25 July 2014
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    Over these years, the customer base of Atlassian have evolved from a small companies who hosted their server under someone’s table to large enterprises. Their tools are being used by NASA for space exploration projects and Rakuten for development of the Japan’s biggest online marketplace.

    Many customers have been demanding for improvements for robustness such as clustering, high availability and higher levels of support. So if you are deploying Atlassian products, you might be interested to know their new offerings:

    JIRA/Confluence Data Center

    • Designed for high availability and performance at scale
    • Provides active-active clustering to ensure users have uninterrupted access
    • Increases concurrent usage capacity without sacrificing performance
    • New nodes can be added without taking the system offline
    • Data Center is available at US$24,000 per year for every 1,000 users
    • Together withthe introduction of the Data Center, there are 3 flavours available for different types of users
      • Server (previously known as Download)
      • Cloud (previously known as OnDemand)
      • Data Center (new license)

    Different flavours of deployment

    For differences between Server and Cloud editions, check out our Infographic- Atlassian OnDemand vs In-Premise.

    Technical Account Management Programme

    • Provides 1:1 guidance to help with operational activities, governance and strategic planning to get the most from your Atlassian investment
    • A Technical Account Manager (TAM) from Atlassian will be assigned
    • Available 1 day per week for US$60,000/year

    Premier Support

    • Provide access to a dedicated team of senior support engineers with enhanced SLAs and availability
    • Has intimate knowledge of your environment to quickly address and manage critical incidents
    • Premier support is available for US$35,000/year

    For on-site support in Singapore, we have specialised local support plans as well.

    For those who are keen on JIRA Data Center, there are some other useful resources:


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  • How we are using JIRA for Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)

    8 July 2014
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    The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) has come effect from 2nd July 2014

    The PDPA establishes a data protection law that comprises various rules governing the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data. It recognises both the rights of individuals to protect their personal data, including rights of access and correction, and the needs of organisations to collect, use or disclose personal data for legitimate and reasonable purposes.


    Data Security

    We recently completed an enhancement for Data Request Tracking with JIRA.
    This enhancement tracks all requests and facilitate the approvals that is pertaining to personal data.

    Some of the steps required are:

    • create a new issue type “Data Request”
    • create a new project for Data Request
    • add those fields that you need to track
    • associate the fields to the screens
    • copy the default workflow and change it with the Workflow Designer
    • associate the schemes to the project
    • If you need reports, you can create a dashboard and add some of the built-in gadgets

    By using a centralised application instead of emails to track all the requests, it provides visibility in the handling of all requests and fulfils the audit requirements.

    We thought it was useful and adapted it for ourselves. Hence, if you have previously submitted your personal data to us, you know your data is safe.

    If you are using JIRA, you can start tracking your Data Requests today!

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  • 4 tools to make life easier for software developers

    19 June 2014
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    It is not easy being a software developer today. A software developer needs

    • to link code changes to the related features/bugs
    • to report to project managers on status updates
    • to work and integrate codes for other fellow developers
    • to code, test and deploy fast
    • to know many software applications for different tasks

    Atlassian has been dogfooding their tools to streamline the application development process and has released their first suite of tools – Git Essentials.

    Git Essentials - JIRA, JIRA Agile, Bamboo and Stash

    The 4 tools (JIRA JIRA AgileBamboo and Stash) can be integrated seamlessly with each other to enable developers from filing the bug, coding the fix till deployment. And because they are from the same company, the integration can be done easily with minimal configuration.

    The key benefits of Git Essentials are:

    • Integration – All the tools are nicely integrated together easily
    • Visibility –  Related information are presented in context
    • Traceability – All the information are linked automatically
    • Time saving – Information is accessible directly
    • Faster learning curve – a same look and feel interface as though it is just 1 single application

    Check out Atlassian’s infographic on how everything works together

    how Atlassian tools works together

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  • How to protect your JIRA from viruses, missing files and performance issues

    5 May 2014
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    We have just released v2.0 of the Attachment Checker for JIRA plugin. The 2 key features introduced in this version are

    • virus scanning of uploaded attachments (JRA-8626)
    • restricting of attachments with duplicate filenames (JRA-2169)

    While it is already possible to install an anti-virus scanner on the JIRA server, there are some implications:

    • Attachments are deleted unknowingly by the scanner without notifying the author that his file is infected. Other users will be unable to download the file later.
    • As mentioned in https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/JIRAKB/Anti-Virus+in+JIRA, some of the users have reported slowness with JIRA when anti-virus software is installed. This is because of the dramatic increase in disk IO and CPU usage as JIRA creates many temporary files. The Attachment Checker only scans the attachments once when they are just uploaded, thus addressing the security concerns.

    The checking for duplicate filename improvement also helps to alert the user if there is already another attachment with the same filename. This solves the scenarios where a copy of the attachment has been uploaded before or the user forgot to rename the file to include the updated version number. This saves time on identifying the correct attachment to work with.

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  • How to Win a War with Confluence

    Maybe it should be corrected to “How to Win Wars with Confluence“. At the time of writing, we have already won 3 consecutive wars using Confluence and a strategy from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

    The Clash of Clans has introduced the latest feature called Clan Wars. It allows 2 different clans to fight each other. The clan that earns the most stars from attacking wins the clan war.

    Clash of Clans

    We lost our 1st war despite our clan was stronger. We were pretty sore and did a RCA (Root Cause Analysis).

    Our conclusion was that the coordination among clan members was lacking. Our clan members are from various part of the world and log in at different time of the day. Some of us never met face to face. The only means of communication is the in-game chat, but there are limitations. It stores only the last 100 messages and the chat room is littered with chit-chat messages among members.

    When we launched our 2nd war, we thought why not use Confluence? There is a free 30 days trial to test whether it is useful or not. And we don’t want to spend a lot of time to do the set up.

    The Confluence site was available in 20 mins after signing up with Atlassian OnDemand. The content was added by typing short paragraphs of text with bullet points. We even decorated the pages by adding images via drag-and-drop.

    In less than an hour, the site was ready for members to get access to key information.

    Welcome blog post

    Welcome blog post

    Members started to circulate the website address within the in-game chat. It was easily accessible from their mobile phones. Some of them even posted comments to discuss how we can refine our fighting strategy.

    The improvement in collaboration really made a difference. We won our 2nd war by a clear margin and thrashed our opponent in the 3rd and 4th wars.

    Battle Updates

    Battle Updates

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  • How to group JIRA issues by months

    12 February 2014
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    Being an Atlassian Expert, we use JIRA to track a lot of issues. Helpdesk tickets, project tasks, purchase requests, and etc. The Three Dimensional Date Gadgets plugin was created to generate reports such as

    • # of tickets filed by customers across the months and years
    • # of tasks assigned to each team member each month
    • # of tasks completed by each team member each month

    The process used to be time-consuming as we had to run several JQL queries to tabulate the figures. Now we are able to get the reports at real-time.

    Original version

    Original version

    It was designed to group the issues by any date field and commonly used fields.

    We thought it was very useful and decided to put it on Atlassian Marketplace as a free plugin. The feedback was very encouraging and we received many suggestions to improve it.

    Marketplace Review

    Early this month, we have released the latest version (v1.4.0) fulfilling almost the entire the wish list:

    Improved 3 Dimensional Monthly Gadget

    Improved 3 Dimensional Monthly Gadget

    The new Rolling Window Monthly Gadget

    The new Rolling Window Monthly Gadget

    Along with this release, we also listed Three Dimensional Date Gadgets Lite plugin. This free edition (which has the same basic features as the original Three Dimensional Date Gadgets Plugin v.1.3.1). The latest version (v.1.3.2) contains bug fixes for v1.3.1.

    Lastly we would like to thank the Atlassian Marketplace team for their assistance. They conducted testing on the plugin and discovered a security vulnerability which was an oversight. The plugin was allowed to be listed after we made the fix. This gives us assurance on the quality of Paid via Marketplace plugins. Keep up the good work, Marketplace team!

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  • Why our customers use JIRA

    11 December 2013
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  • A review on hosting JIRA on the free Amazon EC2 Micro Instance

    19 November 2013
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    Recently, we received an inquiry on whether it is possible to run Atlassian JIRA on Amazon EC2 Micro Instance. The free tier allows up to 750 hours of runtime each month.

    Image from Wikimedia Commons

    Image from Wikimedia Commons

    We were curious on its performance and did some testing on it.

    We did the setup with

    • RHEL 6 64-bit
    • Atlassian JIRA 6.1.2
    • Oracle JDK 1.7.0_45
    • Apache Tomcat 7.0.29
    • MySQL Database Server 5.1.69

    The specs for the virtual machine

    • 6 GB of disk space
    • 590 MB of ram
    • Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2650 0 @ 2.00GHz

    The setup was completed successfully and we were able to create issues within JIRA. However, the performance seemed to be quite bursty as compared to our typical use. Sometimes an action is almost instantaneous, sometimes, a log in can take longer than 5 seconds.

    In the end, we recommended him to consider upgrading the server specs or to take a look at Atlassian OnDemand. The cost of ownership will be lower with automatic version upgrades and data backups.

    For a comparison on the differences between onDemand and self hosted, you can refer to our infographic.

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  • Help your helpdesk staff to go home earlier

    9 October 2013
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    Atlassian has announced 3 new products in the recent Atlassian Summit 2003.  One of them is the JIRA Service Desk.

    JIRA Service Desk is a JIRA addon that

    • Allow customers to ask for help easier with an intuitive and clean interface.  They get to have the terms in their own language, different from what the IT team sees 
    • Allows the helpdesk team to distinguish the urgent issues with powerful SLA rules
    • Allow customers to solve their problems faster by suggesting solutions when they file the ticket 

    For details, please refer to the video intro.

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  • Benefits of using Wiki for Requirements Documentation

    20 August 2013
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    Recently, Atlassian shared the details on how they are doing agile requirements documention with Confluence.

    Atlassian Tiiks

    It also included a well summarized list of the benefits below.

    1. One page, one source, one problem
    Keeping it simple. The requirements page becomes the “landing page” for everything related to the set of problems within a particular epic. Having something that is the central go-to location saves your team members time in accessing this information and gives them a concise view.

    2. A page enables you to be agile
    One of the awesome things about using a simple page to collaborate on verses a dedicated requirements management tool is that you can be agile about your documentation! You don’t have to follow a format every time – do what you need, when you need it and be agile about it. In fact, I encourage you to customise the Requirements Blueprint as you learn what works for your team so you can model your processes easily. Chop and change as required.

    3. Dive in for context and detail
    We often forget how powerful a simple link can be. We embed a lot of links within our requirements landing page. It helps abstract out the complexity and progressively disclose the information as it is needed to the reader. Linking detailed resources my included such things as:

    • Customer interviews for background, validation or further context for the feature
    • Pages or blogs where similar ideas were proposed
    • Previous discussion or technical documentation and diagrams
    • Videos of product demos or other related content from external sources

    4. Living Stories: Stay updated, track and report on progress
    I see a lot of customers do this as well. Once the stories have been roughly thought out – we often use the JIRA integration features in Confluence to link the two. From the page you can easily create your backlog stories. These are automatically embedded with two-way syncing from JIRA. So you instantly get progress reports of how the story is tracking with your dev team, right from your requirements landing page. Learn more.

    5. Use your collective team and organisational wisdom
    Especially if you are in a large organisation – documenting requirements Confluence makes it easy for other people in different teams to contribute and make suggestions. In the Confluence team, I’ve been amazed at the amount of times someone else from another team jumps into the conversation with a comment providing great feedback, suggestions, or lessons learnt from similar projects. It really does help a large organisation feel like a small team.

    6. Make them dynamic and engaging
    Use diagramming tools like Gliffy or Balsamiq to better communicate the problems to your team or embed external images, videos and dynamic content.

    7. Collaborate!
    The most important aspect of all this is getting everyone involved. Never write a requirements document by yourself you should always have a developer with you and write it together. Share the page with the team and get feedback. Comment, ask questions, encourage others to contribute with thoughts and ideas. This is also a huge asset for a distributed team.

    As for the details on how to do it, you can check out the full blog post at http://blogs.atlassian.com/2013/07/agile-requirements-documentation-a-guide

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