enterprise software developers should take a huge freakin’ clue from Atlassian

I don’t normally post much about work or the work I do (at least anymore… heh). But after today’s “off-hours” upgrade, I’m reminded that Atlassian is a hell of a dev crew, and deserves some serious kudos. In the process, I’d like to take a back-handed (and front-handed) swipe at your traditional “enterprise software” – cause it mostly sucks to manage.

First – the kudos: I upgraded an instance of JIRA Enterprise today. It had languished at the office for several years – the big complement there being that a stock install from nearly 3 years ago worked just fine across a whole big span of time with nobody really paying all that much attention to it. So today I took it up to the latest version, including the latest version of the Perforce source control plugin. Sweet. The directions were incredibly straightforward and a process that I feared would take 8+ hours was done in roughly 30 minutes. In fact, I spent far more time dealing with OS upgrades and the inevitable thousand patches than I actually did upgrading JIRA.

In the process I also seamlessly switched database engine backends – it all just worked.

No other enterprise software that I’ve dealt with has this level of maturity of software upgrades and intelligent defaults. The fact that a stock instance grew from 30 users to over 500 without anyone really noticing is really freakin’ amazing. In addition to the really effective software development and defaults choices, the way it handles itself for installation, migration, and backup is simply wonderful. In one step you have an entire cross-database encapsulation of all the data you could use – and that very process has enough hooks in it that a new instance will recognize an old version and automatically bring it up to speed with a current internal schema.

Now take all that coolness, and add on top of it a completely open API for you to extend the system any way you like. If you look at most other enterprise software, the API’s are often not documented, or simply not available at all.

I didn’t want to particularly work today, but Atlassian made it pretty darn OK with their software.

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