How to Harness the Full Power of Atlassian Data Center on AWS

November 15, 2019 | by Krittika Banerjee | Posted In Agile, Atlassian, Cloud

Most Atlassian customers move from Atlassian Server to Atlassian Data Center as their developer and enterprise teams grow. They benefit from greater scalability, reliability, and disaster recovery with Atlassian Data Center. You can either deploy Data Center behind your firewall using a host of technologies like VMware or bare metal, or you can use a third-party cloud vendor environment such as AWS, which allows you to slash administrative costs of your infrastructure while still maintaining control over your data. While the benefits of hosting Atlassian Data Center on AWS can be substantial, the migration can be complex. AWS has scripts and migration tools, but migrations usually require experts to complete them successfully. Here is what to consider when evaluating your migration.

Why AWS?

AWS is the leading cloud platform, with more than 165 services and the largest infrastructure around the world. But for Atlassian customers, the benefits of AWS are more specific. Elastic resources, high availability and disaster recovery are closely aligned with the needs of a mission- critical, enterprise size Atlassian deployment. Elastic resources tailor the infrastructure to your needs. As requests increase during a busy period, Atlassian Data Center can leverage AWS’s built-in tools and metrics to horizontally scale the environment by adding new nodes with identical functionality to existing ones, thereby redistributing the load among all of them. Additionally, system resources can be re-allocated in a better way to support a system for scaling up when there is an increase in demand.

Image source: https://dzone.com/refcardz/scalability?chapter=1

And when demand has faded, the additional nodes can be removed to preserve performance while instantly reducing costs and operational overhead.

With Atlassian Data Center on AWS, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The combination offers various tools and services that can be leveraged to provide organizations the availability and performance they need for their enterprise systems, with redundancy and fail over options.

  • You can cope with the requirements of an ever-increasing number of concurrent users and  ensure your systems  remain constantly accessible, even in the face of unexpected disruptions through AWS’s resilient application infrastructure framework and quality of services.
  • Using the elastic load balancing feature, you can redirect excess traffic to Amazon EC2 instances to provide specific levels of availability and ensure acceptable response times.
  • You can deploy new nodes without any hassle (or downtime), and use active-active clustering to dynamically meet changing conditions.
  • The distributed load feature helps you automatically distribute the varying load of application traffic across clusters, and ensures that your applications will scale to the demands of users.
  • In the event of a disaster, you can quickly back up, store, and recover IT systems in seconds. This helps you swiftly recover mission-critical systems while optimizing your Disaster Recovery (DR) budget.

Getting the most out of Atlassian and AWS for the enterprise

To get the most out of Atlassian Data Center on AWS, you must use the Quick Start guide from Amazon. The Quick Start sets up the Atlassian Standard Infrastructure (ASI) — a highly available, secure virtual private cloud (VPC) that is customized to host Atlassian Data Center products such as Jira, Bitbucket Data Center, and Confluence Data Center on AWS. With the ASI, you can get access to the underlying common architecture required for deploying multiple Atlassian Data Center applications within the same VPC.

The Quick Start sets up a foundational stack, which includes the VPC, managed NAT gateways, and a Linux bastion host, and then exports the stack’s output values to expose the foundational components to other stacks. The Quick Starts for Jira, Bitbucket Data Center, and Confluence Data Center use the exported values to discover these underlying components, so you can easily host multiple Atlassian products on the VPC.

Considerations for a successful AWS migration

AWS migrations are not without hazards. Even with the Quick Starts, standing up a Data Center application on AWS can be complex. You need to consider a variety of factors to evaluate and determine whether or not the default settings for this average setup will be the best option for your deployment. The scope and depth of the platform lead to added complexity. AWS released 1,957 new services and features in 2018, innovating at an unmatched pace, especially in new areas such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Serverless Computing. Every variation of the services and features means that IT managers face thousands of choices during implementation.

Running applications and services in cloud environments also requires a solid understanding of the shared responsibilities for data security and compliance. While AWS is responsible for the security of the cloud infrastructure, the customer is responsible for securing their data within the cloud. As always the devil is in the details. It is advisable to build a responsibilities matrix and document who is implementing which security controls and how. This should also align with any necessary compliance standards applicable to your industry.

Another important consideration is user identity and access management. The challenge for most enterprises is that the bulk of their identity management services and data sources are kept within their premises, even after other services have been migrated to the cloud. This means there needs to be a link between the identity system within an organization’s network and the applications outside of the firewall that need that information to grant access. AWS offers different options for handling IDM. You can define, manage, and enforce user access policies using tools like federated single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication. But this is a journey that must be well understood before it begins.

Organizations often overlook some of the above aspects when undertaking application migration to the cloud. The risks of a failed deployment include lost data, security breaches, downtime, and increased costs. Since there are minimal or no capital costs, it’s easy to believe that anyone can provision an enterprise application on AWS. But most IT teams don’t want to risk it and don’t have time to learn as they go.

These teams often find a qualified managed services provider. An experienced service partner can seamlessly deploy, manage, and provide maintenance services for your Atlassian products, add-ons, and integrations on AWS 24/7 – thus freeing up your own internal resources. If Atlassian is pivotal to your business, then it makes sense to engage with an expert who has the experience and expertise necessary to help you tailor your environment to your specific needs and processes and ensure you are successful as you scale up.

This blog is Part 2 of a three-part series. Check out Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

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