Jira Cloud Migrations: The Steps to Success


BDQ is a Zephyr Expert Partner and Atlassian Solution Partner based in London, England. Our core focus is ensuring that the Atlassian technology stack and Zephyr agile test management products deliver value to our customers through digital transformation. We provide consultancy, training, and workshops on implementing Zephyr Squad (previously known as Zephyr for Jira). Our goal is to empower teams to test effectively in agile scrum. 

Gartner estimates that by 2025, 80% of companies will have migrated away from on-premise servers.

We’ve seen this shift ourselves – when we started as an Atlassian Expert, all our orders were for on-premise licenses, and the majority are now SaaS term licenses for Jira or Confluence cloud. 

The logic behind this shift is that companies want to consume services without needing to maintain infrastructure and take responsibility for updates, configuration, backups, and uptime maintenance. We have blue chip customers who were once Jira or Confluence on-prem customers, and now that Atlassian focuses on Cloud platforms, they’re now fully deployed on Cloud, too. 

Don't put it off until 2024! 

Moving to Cloud brings big benefits. Many of our customers have already moved, or are planning to move soon, rather than waiting until 2024, which is the end-of-life for Server. Moving earlier means customers will benefit immediately as Atlassian rolls out new features. In addition, there are great cost savings. The full costs of equipment and personnel required to maintain on-premise environments, when considered over a two to three-year term, is almost always more than the one-off cost of a migration and the costs of the Cloud licenses. It's simple to budget for what you need. 

Atlassian is now a cloud-first company, and Cloud will be getting new features to enable customers to collaborate better than ever. The whole ethos of Atlassian centers around collaboration and teamwork, and Cloud is a perfect fit for this, as its default is to be open and inclusive. However, if you need more control, Atlassian has you covered. IP allow listing and SSO features allow customers to lock down systems, while release tracks and sandboxing give enterprise customers control over feature releases and testing. Instead of running application infrastructure, you can focus on using the newest features to drive your business forward. 

Planning the big move 

If you've decided to enjoy the benefits of Cloud, you need to plan your migration. This doesn’t need to be a big, expensive project, but because Jira and Confluence are often used by hundreds or thousands of users, it’s important to make sure your users get a seamless migration experience. The people in charge of executing these migrations need project management skills and specific technical knowledge of the platforms involved. Organizations may have these people in-house, but they’re usually busy with other high-value activities. Migration to Atlassian Cloud is a one-off activity, and developing the skills in-house for this can be a distraction for skilled technical staff. This is where a partner can help. 

Jira migration concept vs practice image

If a migration is planned and executed carefully, there will be minimum impact on your end users. Of course, one of the big benefits of Jira and Confluence is the number of high-quality apps available. It’s important to check what apps are in use, and what the migration paths will be. 

Partner-assisted Cloud migrations 

An Atlassian Solution partner like BDQ has a lot of experience in this area, which keeps the cost down. For example, we’ve written apps and scripts to help us perform migrations in the most efficient way. Wherever possible, for budget certainty, we provide customers with a fixed price. 

We have a proven process for every migration, which can be adjusted for the size and complexity of the situation. You can read more about how we go about completing migrations here. As one of our customers said, "If you are migrating to Atlassian Cloud, it is cheaper and quicker to use an experienced Atlassian Solution Partner like BDQ than to do it internally."* 

Jira App Cloud migrations 

The architecture of Server/Data Center is completely different from that of Cloud, and the same is true for the Apps. An identical App may not be available – often, the equivalent Cloud version is an improvement, given the increased investment in this platform. We discuss this in our blogpost here. However, more sophisticated Apps are applications in their own right, and each one needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis in terms of the migration, particularly if it’s integrated into custom workflows. The major app vendors are improving support all the time, making migration smoother and faster. 

Self-assisted app data migrations 

For most customers, SmartBear recommends waiting until Atlassian enables app migrations in Jira Cloud Migration Assistant (JCMA) later in 2021. JCMA is a streamlined solution developed by Atlassian that helps you move projects, users, and groups from Jira Core or Jira Software on server to the cloud. Using JCMA will be an easy, safe, and Atlassian approved process to migrate your test data.

SmartBear strongly urges customers to NOT migrate using the JCMA until Atlassian enables it for app migrations later in 2021. The JCMA does not enable app migrations at this time. 

If you want to try JCMA for app migrations before the official release, you can sign up for the Early Access Program (EAP). Zephyr Squad and Zephyr Scale are two of the applications you can migrate within this beta program. You can sign up for EAP via Atlassian’s migration platform tickets for Zephyr Squad and Zephyr Scale. Please note, that this EAP is Atlassian Supported and Solution Partner assisted, so participation may not be guaranteed. 

Please see the blog Your Journey to Atlassian Jira Cloud with Zephyr to learn more about how SmartBear supports Zephyr Squad and Scale customer transition to Cloud.

For more information about Atlassian’s app migration timelines, visit their blog and Cloud Roadmap.  


Atlassian have made huge strides with the maturity of Jira Cloud, to the extent that they have discontinued sales of Server licenses. The only current option for people requiring an on-prem solution is Data Center. Many previous objections such as SSO and data sovereignty have been dealt with.  

Depending on the edition, it’s now possible to “pin” your instance to the EU or the US, allowing you to know where your core data will be kept. Atlassian Access, SAML, and AzureAD create a seamless Enterprise SSO experience, where Cloud usernames can be controlled and managed by their owning organization, no matter how many Cloud sites their employees access. 

With BDQ, upgrades happen seamlessly, and Atlassian works tirelessly to ensure the Cloud systems remain available, with different tiers available depending on customer requirements. 

Finally, it’s worth reading this case study from one of our customers, Aurora Commerce. Not only do they discuss why it was cheaper to use BDQ, rather than execute the migration internally, they also explain why they wouldn’t go back to Server. For more details, listen to the webinar here

To learn how BDQ can help with your migration, please contact them here

*SmartBear only certifies the quality of migration solutions created by SmartBear