Cloud Data

To Merge or Separate Instances: Which is Better During a Cloud Migration?

June 5, 2024
Christian Lipski

The thought of undergoing a cloud migration is exciting, as it allows you to leverage Atlassian's cutting-edge technology and experience the benefits of being a cloud-first enterprise. A cloud migration is also an opportunity to reorganize your world (i.e. data, applications, workflows, etc.) and evaluate whether to merge your instances into a unified platform or split them into multiple cloud sites. 

So, why would you consolidate versus separate? And which option is better for your cloud environment? Well, it depends since neither choice is inherently good or bad. As with any tech solution, it’s really about choosing what works best for your business and organizational needs. 

Reasons to Merge Your Instances During a Cloud Migration

1. Avoid Double Entry/Login

No one likes to switch between different URLs to get work done. During the cloud migration process, merging instances helps avoid the inefficiencies of double entry and the inconvenience of multiple logins, streamlining the flow of work for teams. 

Also, when data is spread across multiple instances, it’s common for information overlap to occur. This can result in your data being inconsistent or inaccurate, which impacts enterprise visibility. Consolidating instances ensures all relevant data is in one place, improving consistency and enhancing strategic decision-making.

2. Consolidate App Users

Depending on your user tier, consolidating users can lead to significant cost savings. A cloud merger can eliminate the need for multiple subscriptions and reduce overall expenses by having a single user tier. 

Take HP, for instance (no pun intended!). After multiple mergers and acquisitions, the leading global tech company decided to consolidate its instances, which resulted in reduced admin overhead, organizational alignment, and cost savings on licenses.

3. Streamline IT Integration Post-Acquisition

When merging IT operations, it’s critical to quickly integrate systems and align teams with the right tools that support efficient processes. Otherwise, you risk having separate instances that operate like the wild, wild west, where no standardization exists and teams adopt tools and configurations without governance. 

After a merger or acquisition, you should combine teams with similar functions to streamline operations, optimize processes, and foster better collaboration. This decreases IT complexity and establishes a scalable technology foundation for your evolving organization.

What to Consider When Merging Instances

1. Space/Project Key Collision

One major technical challenge of merging instances during a cloud migration is the potential for space or project key collisions. In Jira, each issue number begins with a key that indicates the project, and duplicate keys can disrupt the migration process. To prevent cloud migration failures, you must rename project keys and establish standardized naming conventions before merging instances.

2. Increase in App User Tier

A cloud merger can grow your user base, which increases costs for applications that charge based on user tiers. For example, if you have 50 people using application A in one instance and 60 people not using it in another, merging instances raises the user count to 110. 

Consequently, your company will be billed at the 110-user tier, even though more than half of those users don’t use application A. This can add up quickly when you have multiple apps across different instances. 

3. Security Concerns

While permissions help control who has access to what information, merging instances may raise security and compliance concerns. It’s crucial to assess if the merged access aligns with your organization's compliance requirements.

For example, you might have highly secure departments with strict access controls, while other departments have regular Jira permissions. If you combine instances, an org admin could access restricted data, potentially breaching compliance. Depending on your industry and its regulatory requirements, this could mean that merging instances is a no-go.

4. Data Residency Requirements

Different instances may require data to reside in specific locations due to legal reasons. For example, your compliance standards might mandate that some of your data be stored in Canada and other data in Germany. In this case, merging instances isn’t feasible because it would violate your data residency stipulations. 

Reasons to Separate Your Instances During a Cloud Migration

1. Save on Marketplace App Costs

As we mentioned, app costs can add up quickly for large user bases. For example, if you have 2,000 users but only 100 use a specific app, you're billed at the 2,000-user tier. By separating instances during a cloud migration, you can better manage app costs by paying only for what you need.

2. Safeguard Restricted Data

Isolating data can be crucial for compliance. In a single merged instance, the org admin can access all data, which might not be ideal or compliant with certain regulations. When you separate instances into different organizations, the org admin of one organization cannot see any restricted data in the other.

3. Comply with Data Residency Requisites

We’ve already touched on data residency, and separating your cloud instances could be a solution for complying with geographic data storage requirements. Coming back to the example we discussed, if you have one group that requires data to be stored in Canada, while another needs it in Germany, then splitting your instance into multiple cloud sites is the way to go.

4. Prepare for A Divestiture

If a company plans to sell one of its divisions, maintaining separate instances before the divestiture facilitates a smoother data migration post-divestiture and ensures that one part of the business can be transferred without impacting the other.

We had a customer that planned to divest one of its business units, so they started preparing ahead of time by separating their cloud instances. This helped the customer quickly realign its technology infrastructure and accelerate the cloud migration process without disruption or compromising data integrity. 

What to Consider When Separating Instances

1. Cloud Tier Options

When considering cloud tier options, it's important to evaluate the offerings of your cloud provider to ensure they meet your business objectives. Atlassian's Cloud Enterprise plan allows up to 150 instances, making it ideal for large organizations with thousands of users. Alternatively, Standard and Premium Cloud plans include only one instance of the product and incur individual costs for each. 

This is why we recommend Atlassian Cloud Enterprise for customers who need to separate instances. Sure, Atlassian Cloud Enterprise is an investment, but when you do the math, it’s more cost-effective than maintaining 150 Standard or Premium instances. Plus, with an Enterprise plan subscription, your organization can still subscribe to separate Standard and Premium plans if needed.

2. License Costs for Multiple Instances

Unless you are on the Atlassian Cloud Enterprise plan, each product a user needs to access requires a separate license. With the Enterprise plan, however, you just need one user license to access any of the product sites (all Jira’s, all Confluence’s, etc.).

For Standard and Premium plans, any users that require access to multiple instances will need separate licenses for each instance. This can quickly become expensive if you separate your instances and are not on the Enterprise plan, as you will pay for products multiple times.

3. Identification of Spaces/Projects

It’s important to identify which spaces and projects need to migrate to which site. Some spaces and projects may contain data that needs to be split, which requires careful planning to ensure data integrity and compliance.

For example, if you have a Jira on-prem instance that you want to separate into two different cloud sites, what happens if some issues from a Jira project need to go into instance A and others into instance B? Is your organization okay with this split? Can you easily identify these issues? 

You also need to account for scenarios where data exists in multiple places, such as a general Confluence space for HR. If everyone at your organization needs access to this space, it should be available in all your Confluence instances.

Strategies Tailored to Your Cloud Journey

Deciding whether to merge or separate your Atlassian Cloud instances ultimately depends on your specific organizational needs, regulatory requirements, and long-term cloud migration strategy. Regardless of the path you choose, Praecipio can help optimize your cloud environment

With deep experience in enterprise-level cloud migrations, we ensure that your technology aligns with your people, processes, and business objectives. Whether it's deciding if Atlassian Cloud Enterprise is right for you or if you have complex migration requirements, contact our team to develop the best strategy for your organization’s cloud journey. 


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