By Brendan O’Meara, TCG Atlassian Capability Lead
Atlassian software provides the foundation for Agile project management, data collection, and knowledge sharing for many Federal agencies. On February 15, 2024, agencies will find themselves without critical Atlassian support for Jira, Confluence, and other Atlassian tools. On that day, Atlassian will end support for Server, the most common Atlassian license in the Federal government.
There is some confusion among Federal agencies about what this will mean, but, in short, end of Server could bring loss of service to these fundamental tools. In order to avoid this, it’s imperative that agencies understand how they will be affected, assess their options, and choose a migration path as soon as possible.
Here’s are the details on this change and some options to consider.
What Does the End of Support for Atlassian Server mean?
If an agency uses Server licenses, Atlassian will no longer offer technical support, security updates, or bug fixes for critical vulnerabilities. The government is still required by any ATO to only use software that is supported. This means any agency using unsupported Atlassian software will be in violation of their ATOs.
However, the problem is not simply one of compliance. The requirement to use supported software–even if it is not FedRAMP compliant–helps organizations avoid zero-day vulnerabilities and potential loss of data or access. This means an agency will find itself in an unsecure, unsupported, and unsustainable posture if a transition plan isn’t identified and implemented prior to February 15, 2024.
What agencies and products will be affected?
Because Server is the most common licensing arrangement in the Federal government, most agencies will likely be affected. This includes any agency accessing Atlassian systems through MAX.gov.
Atlassian Cloud is not a viable option for any agency requiring a FedRAMP–moderate or higher rating. For these customers, the end of Server will disrupt access to:
- Jira Software Server
- Jira Core Server
- Jira Service Management Server
- Confluence Server
- Bitbucket Server
- Crowd Server
- Bamboo Server
- Atlassian-built Server apps
Consider the cost of hosting and system maintenance.
Agencies should take this opportunity to evaluate their total cost of ownership for Atlassian solutions. Typically, the cost of the licenses is only 20% of the total cost, with the remainder comprising hardware (20%), the cost of maintenance of the server (20%), and the cost of customization (40%). Agencies that currently host on-prem should consider whether it’s worth continuing that model. Those with IT staff dedicated to maintenance of the Atlassian system may find it budget-friendly to continue to host, while those with a more complicated relationship with their IT staff may elect to pursue other options.
What other options is Atlassian offering?
Agencies will have a few options going forward. These appear easy, but the cost structure will shift dramatically. The three basic options are:
- Migration to Atlassian Cloud,
- Migration to Atlassian Data Center, or
- Partnering with an Atlassian Managed Service Provider (MSP) to accommodate Atlassian requirements.
Atlassian is encouraging most of their customers to migrate to their Atlassian Cloud platform, and for companies in the private sector who meet the proper sizing requirements, this is a cost-effective and appropriate option. However, Atlassian Cloud is not a FedRAMP-compliant solution. Agencies may require an ATO to use Atlassian Cloud, and your organization’s security may not permit use of a non-FedRAMP-hosted solution. Agencies need to understand the security requirements for their organizations to assess whether Cloud is the right solution. In general, however, if an agency requires a FedRAMP moderate or higher rating, Atlassian Cloud will not be an appropriate replacement for Server.
Atlassian Data Center
Atlassian will continue to offer Data Center, a software product very similar — but more powerful in some ways — to Server. Switching to this product allows agencies to keep their Atlassian tools on hosted servers in secure facilities, whether on-prem or configured as IaaS. Very large agencies with 2,000 users or more should strongly consider Data Center.
However, small and mid-sized agencies with more limited budgets may find that acquiring, installing, hosting, and running Atlassian applications with Data Center licenses is not a realistic option due to cost and other resource constraints.
Managed Service Provider (MSP)
An MSP offers Atlassian hosted applications on a shared platform. This is essentially sharing a Data Center license across multiple agencies. This allows multiple organizations to operate across their own spaces within Jira, Confluence, or other Atlassian tools while sharing the costs across a single license provider.
With end of support for Atlassian Server, agencies will need to migrate their Atlassian instances to another platform. Depending on the size of content and user base, special requirements, and other factors this process can take months. Agencies need to act now to have a seamless transition and avoid interruption of service.
Brendan O’Meara leads TCG’s Atlassian Capability and supports business and product development for GovCollab, a TCG subsidiary, and managed service provider of Atlassian hosting. For any questions about the end of support for Atlassian Server licenses or migration options, contact Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (202) 355‑9491.