Freebie tier coming to issue-tracking Jira, but you'll have to cough up to unlock the good stuff

Atlassian would love it if you joined its glorious cloudy future

Get your free stuff here

Recent entrant to the billion-dollar collaboration club Atlassian is to unleash a free version of the Jira issue-tracking system amid a shake-up of its cloud pricing plans.

After price hikes left customers a little lighter in the pocket, the introduction of a free tier for Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk and Jira Core will be of interest to those keen to try but wary of the costs involved and the tedious trial periods of yesteryear.

Free options for Trello, Bitbucket and Opsgenie are already available, although they are, of course, a tad limited. Bitbucket, for example, is free for teams of up to five users, but if you want more developers, build minutes or storage then you'll need to pony up $2 per user per month for the standard edition or $5 for the premium version.

Harsh Jawharkar, head of GTM for Enterprise Cloud at Atlassian, told The Register the move was "focused on choice", adding that the company was keen to "broaden our reach" to startups and emerging markets that would otherwise be put off by the cost.

That free tier would be arriving "roughly within the next month", according to Jawharkar.

Not that such altruism extends to the feature-set. As with many other free product tiers, there are limitations. Jawharkar told us there would be user limits, and indeed only 10 users (or three agents) can play, and file storage is limited to 2GB.

And support? Community only.

You can also forget all about audit logs for the freebie tier for Jira Software, Core, Service Desk and Confluence. Users will have to consider actually paying some money.

And, of course, Cloud Premium is where Atlassian would like those users to go as it heads to a glorious subscription future and away from the dark days of perpetual licensing.

CEO Scott Farquhar observed that "more than 90 per cent of our new customers start with one of our cloud products", just in case there were any lingering doubts as to the direction of travel.

To sweeten the pill, Premium Jira Software users get unlimited storage and 24/7 support for $14 per user per month.

Jira Service Desk will also be joining the Premium gang, which has 99.9 per cent uptime Service Level Agreement.

We asked Jawharkar what that SLA would mean in practice – after all, a refund of a bit of an invoice is often little compensation compared to the cost to businesses when the cloud falls from the sky, and were told that "the industry standard approach" was being adopted.

That, according to Jawharkar, will "rely on service credits, which would then be used to offset whatever the customer is already paying".

Atlassian insisted the approach was based on customer feedback.

Bitbucket, for example, had a bit of a chequered 2018, falling over in October and January.

Choose your own location

While the move from a seven-day trial period to a free tier is eye-catching, more significant for businesses considering Atlassian's cloud is the arrival of some much needed privacy and security upgrades.

Most important will be control over data residency. Being able to select a physical location for that precious data is critical for companies with a regulatory or compliance need.

Atlassian boasted that customers would "soon" be able to pick a preferred location from anywhere in the company's global footprint during onboarding although existing users could be in for a faff.

Jawharkar told us the plan was to allow customers to select North America or Europe for their data, hopefully by the end of 2019. "We'll start with a sort of continental regional level," he said, "then eventually, what we'll do over time is figure out how to offer a more granular approach to data management."

Since the company runs on AWS, that eventual list will likely bear a distinct resemblance to that of Amazon.

Also set to tickle those enterprise users is the move out of private preview for Google Cloud Identity and Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services for login integration and URL customisation.

The latter, which won't be available until 2020, will start with subdomains for Jira (Confluence will follow later) and Jawharkar told us the plan was to eventually allow customers to map to their own domain.

Finally, as if to underline how keen the company is to persuade customers that they will live their best lives in the cloud, trial windows for existing customers will be axed.

"We want to put our money where our mouth is," said Jawharkar. "This licence will give our on-prem customers the ability to try cloud on us for free."

And ideally stop those customers from looking too hard at alternatives when planning that eventual migration. ®

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