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Is Atlassian OnDemand right for you? The Pros and Cons of using Atlassian tools in the Cloud

Apr 11, 2012 12:39

Atlassian's OnDemand is the cloud-hosted edition of their software development suite of tools. Atlassian OnDemand features fully-integrated cloud-based versions of all of their most popular development and collaboration tools.

Everything is 'à la carte', meaning that you can toggle applications on or off and only pay for what you use and ultimately spend less time worrying about tool infrastructure.

However, in developing a 'one size fits all' solution, there are a number of trade-offs in terms of flexibility of the solution that you should be aware of when considering if OnDemand is the right choice for you. Here's a round up of Pros and Cons of Atlassian OnDemand:



  • Integrated, hosted versions of all popular Atlassian tools

    The applications are hosted in the cloud. This means you don't have to worry about buying and maintaining your own infrastructure. It's also instantly setup - so you don't have to hassle a techie to install and configure it all for you. Your subscription includes software updates, technical support, hosting costs, bandwidth and system administration. What's more, there are no bandwidth limits - you can use the system as much as you like.

  • Toggle applications on or off

    You can easily add or remove applications - so you can fire-up new ones, try them out with your real data and turn them off if they're no longer required. You only pay for what you use.

  • Bundled plugins

    Included with OnDemand are a few integrations for things like FlowDock, Zephyr, Get Satisfaction and of course other Atlassian tools. There's some commercial extras you can buy too - see the Atlassian OnDemand plugin policy for more information.

  • Works with Google Apps

    You can access your development suite with your Google Apps account.

  • It's secure

    All Atlassian OnDemand sites enforce SSL by default and they're hosted in a secure US-based hosting facility.

  • It's reliable

    They boast 99.9% uptime and 24x7x365 customer support, and they handle the upgrades and maintenance releases for you.

  • It's affordable

    Prices start at $10/mo. You can add new applications or change your license size as you scale and with subscription pricing there's no large up-front payment - just month-to-month billing.


  • Admin restrictions

    Generally speaking, all functions performed by a System Administrator in the downloaded versions of the applications are restricted in OnDemand. The specifics change for each application. With the downloaded version you get complete application control.

  • It might not be secure enough

    So yes, we did just mention that it is secure and it will be secure enough for most. However, some organisations will have specific security requirements that preclude them from considering cloud-based solutions as the data is not under their full control. For some, true security only exists when hosted on your own site, behind your firewall or air-gap. Here's some more information about the security of OnDemand.

  • You can’t install your own plugins

    There's a select few plugins that you can install in to OnDemand applications and they're working on improving this and providing other ways to include plugins in future. For now, it's just the downloaded versions of applications that give you full freedom to use any of the hundreds of plugins available on the Atlassian Plugin Exchange.

  • You can’t theme the site

    Beyond the in-built small customisations such as access to space CSS, space logo and in-built themes you can’t customise the site. The extent to which it can be themed changes depending on whether you're using single or multiple applications, so here's more information about what you can do.

  • Only English language is supported

    This is something they are working on, and you can follow progress at JST-801.

  • You can’t use Clover

    Their code coverage tool is not available OnDemand.

  • Data import options are limited

    Migrating from other systems could be tricky as they are some limitations with how you can import data in to OnDemand.

  • You can’t use your own domain name

    Your OnDemand instance is accessible at https://<account_name>, where <account_name> is a unique word you specify when signing up. Use of custom domain names is not currently supported. This is particularly problematic for customer-facing instances as it doesn't necessarily give the professional look you might want. Using Apache reverse proxies or changing CNAME entries doesn't work either. You can vote for this issue to get some attention at JST-5311. Incidentally, you're currently unable to change your OnDemand domain after the instance has been created as well. So choose carefully when signing up.

  • It's billed as a subscription

    This is another one which we listed as a benefit above. For some though monthly billing really means that it only works whilst you're still paying for it. With the downloadable version you get a perpetual license, so you only have to pay that one-time fee and you can keep using it for as long as you like. Additional expenditure is optional. If you don't need continuing support and access to updated versions of their products then you may end up paying more than you need to in the long-term.

  • Additional storage is extra

    The initial storage available for each Atlassian OnDemand instance is 25GB. Accounts that exceed that amount pay $1.00 per gigabyte per month extra.

So there you have it - the good and the bad of OnDemand. For most organisations OnDemand is a great option, it takes the hassle out of owning the tools so you can just focus on using them. For others, there are some limitations and depending on your circumstances these may be a deal-breaker for you, at least for now.

If you're unsure about the best option for you, then Adaptavist can help. We can advise you on the best ways to get the most out of Atlassian tools for your specific use-case and can help you with planning, launching, using and upgrading Atlassian tools.

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