Migrating to Contegix JIRA Hosted: The Pros and Cons

Introduction

Around 3 months ago I moved JIRA 3.11 from a self-managed Windows Server to a Linux server managed by Contegix, who are Atlassian’s server partner based in the US.

The reason for the switch was that JIRA’s server maintenance was taking up too much of my time.  I am not a server admin and was doing everything by ear, so it was time consuming and frustrating.  In addition to that, we had some problems on JIRA that seemed to be caused by the server setup, such as email alerts not sending properly and faulty database indexing.

So, it seemed sensible to outsource this job so I made the contract with Contegix.  It was quite time consuming to prepare for the move, with all our plugins especially causing a nightmare, however when the day came it actually migrated fairly well.  We had some problems with 5GB of attachment zips breaking and having to be resent (so attachments were not available at first).  Also some encoding problems came about due to our Japanese version of JIRA, thankfully Atlassian made a patch for us to fix it (Big thanks again).

As part of this blog, I thought it would be interesting for some readers to get an honest appraisal of the pros/cons moving to Contegix.

The Pros

  • Super fast service – Contegix always reply within a minute or so and usually have the job done shortly afterwards.
  • I can leave server admin to the experts. I do not have to worry about firefighting, if something happens I can just shoot off an email to Contegix and I know they will have it fixed shortly. Security is probably better.
  • It gives me someone to blame if something goes wrong. If a problem occurs, I can shout at someone else instead of myself. If an unfixable problem occurs, I can tell my colleagues (honestly) that it is Atlassian or Contegix’s fault as my own responsibility is now minimal.
  • Cost is reasonable – in our case the cost was the same as for our non-managed existing server.
  • JIRA can be upgraded very easily, I can just ask them to make a test instance and once it is running ask them to shift everything over the new version.

The Cons

  • Concurrent issues are difficult to manage. Contegix has many support staff, which may be good in some situations however for me it was a negative thing because I was had 4-5 different people working on related issues for me at the same time, and it didnt seem to be so well cordinated at the Contegix side. I often had to reexplain things to people or point them to related issues led by their colleagues. This was only an issue during the server move phase, once that was completed it has been rare for me to contact Contegix so this concurrent issue problem is unlikely to arise again.
  • Some issues do not get resolved without follow up. I found if I put multiple related requests into one email, I would end up with a random result where half of them got done and the other half didn’t. This was more likely to happen when some of the issues needed further info to resolve and so the thread of the issue got muddled.
  • Contegix themselves do not use JIRA to manage issues/support – this one surprised me a great deal. If they used JIRA, none of the problem above would have happened as I could have managed the issues using JIRA’s subtasks.
  • Contegix’s support engineers knowledge of JIRA was less than I expected. They can easily handle common requests like running over HTTPS, behind Apache etc. But some of the trickier ones like changing JIRA logging seemed to be new to them. I was a little surprised by this, but I guess they have many engineers and experience varies.

In conclusion, I have no regrets about moving to Contegix.  Since the move, I have not had to contact them at all as it has been running completely smoothly.  We also made a contract to add another server for another web application (non-Atlassian) that we needed.  However I think they ought to start using JIRA if they are serious about being Atlassians long term server partner: this would make issue management for customers easier, increase their own engineers knowledge of the product, and would show a bit of faith of Atlassians product.