Luis Machado

Luis Machado

Luis Machado is a Technical Architect with Praecipio Consulting born and raised in Austin, TX. When he's not helping companies come up with solutions to their technical and process-related needs, he enjoys a plethora of nerdy activities including video games, sci-fi/fantasy novels, tabletop RPGs, and more.

Recent posts by Luis Machado

3 min read

Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflows

By Luis Machado on Feb 22, 2022 11:04:51 AM

2021 Q1 Blog - Cloud - Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflow - Hero

Workflows are the backbone of every process in every business around the globe. Efficient workflows can help your business scale effectively. However, flawed or fragile workflows can lead to issues within your company, disruptions to your bottom line, and more. 

Until not so long ago, if you wanted to create a new way of working, you had to:
  • Create a request to solve this issue and make a business case for it
  • Once approved, brainstorm with stakeholders on ways to improve the process
  • IT had to create a development and test environment to code the changes and test them
  • Documentation and training
  • Launch with (hopeful) success

How long did this take? Days? Weeks? Traditionally, months.

Cloud shortens that time and provides several other benefits—such as reduced IT overhead, strengthened security, and more time spent focused on your customers and product. You can learn why you should migrate to Atlassian Cloud in 2022 here.

You can learn more about our approach to Atlassian Cloud Migrations and discover how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate.

Your Cloud and digital improvements won't provide greater customer satisfaction, staff enhanced capabilities, or lower costs unless you begin to apply DevOps practices and tools.

How do we make it faster?

Using the concepts of IT service management, and leveraging the right software, you can automate creating and approving requests or resolving an IT issue (incident). This approach can be applied to other business tasks such as sales, HR, marketing, and essential accounting functions. Cloud-based software lets you implement these processes with a few clicks or by pressing a button on an online catalog. Atlassian and their partners like Workato are leading the way in creating business as a Service process. 

If we look at Onboarding, for example, one of the most common workflows companies have a strong desire to automate. The steps to source an applicant, store their CV, arrange an interview, track the responses, make an offer, track the request and organize the start date, training, and IT of the new employee used to take several days. Now software can complete your onboarding process by your morning coffee break.

The same is true for:

  • Approval workflows – product or service improvements currently require many approvals from finance, security, users, operations, and even external suppliers. These hand-offs add days to time to market, which could be saved if you allow software to manage your approval process.
  • Creating application environments – we have seen where the request for a new environment took 11 weeks. Coding the demand to deploy process allows an entire domain to be ready in less than 10 minutes. Taking advantage of this, you can even code the removal of the environment if not in use saving money.
  • Automating payment of services (debit cards, online products like PayPal, online ordering) is nothing more than leveraging code for the cash flow from request to the supplier.

How do you take advantage of this new way of creating work?

Consider these questions:
  • What work processes are vital to you, and why?
  • How do they work today?
  • What is wrong with them today?

This is where a partner like Praecipio comes into the picture. Leveraging lean techniques like value stream mapping (VSM) that have been embraced by DevOps and ITSM the world over, we can work with your teams to design for your future. Making collaborative decisions on improving the workflow or outsourcing the workload to a SaaS provider (see Praecipio SaaS blogs) can be agreed upon. The goal is to introduce innovation, speed, and scalability with a cloud service enabled by software workflow products. We bring context and expertise to the table turn your ideas into reality.

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

The goal is to have cloud-based operating models that can accelerate your strategy. Through 2020 and 2021, we've seen what happens to companies that do not react quickly enough. Ask for assistance and coaching, and go digital in 2022. Get started with your Cloud Migration by reaching out to the experts at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: workflows cloud cloud migration
3 min read

Why you should migrate to Atlassian Cloud in 2022

By Luis Machado on Feb 15, 2022 1:33:07 PM

Why you should be migrating to Atlassian Cloud in 2022

It's 2022, and we're (hopefully) at a peak with Omicron, yet we still aren't sure what the future of work looks like. In 2020, classrooms went virtual and suddenly every meeting was online. Many businesses suffered plenty of losses, and some didn't make it. However, some businesses thrived, or at the very least managed to emerge from the proverbial storm relatively unscathed.

Two years later, what's next? If you didn't migrate to cloud, is there still a reason to do so? The answer is still a resounding yes.

The benefits of a Cloud Migration are still many

Data Center and Cloud offer different benefits, but for most customers, cloud is an excellent choice. Data center hosting is self-managed and requires more resources to keep it up-to-date and compliant with industry regulations. However, hosting on Atlassian Cloud provides several benefits:

  • Reduce total cost of ownership: Save on physical infrastructure, maintenance, support, and other admin costs. 
  • Eliminate downtime and maintenance:  Say goodbye to falling behind on updates and downtime. When you move to Atlassian Cloud, your organization automatically has access to the latest and greatest features of your Atlassian products.
  • Strengthen security: Keep your organization secure and stay compliant as Atlassian takes over safeguarding your data with their security best practices and rigorous testing. 
  • Keep your people happy: With its ease-of-use and improved performance, the user experience in cloud is more intuitive, seamless, and collaborative. 
  • Work from anywhere: It's not where you work, it's how you work. Distributed teams can securely access your Atlassian tools from anywhere and through any browser or mobile app.
  • Improve business agility: Cloud provides the flexibility to move faster, scale your instance successfully, have greater visibility into real-time data, and improve business agility.

You can find even more benefits of migrating to the cloud on our Atlassian Cloud Migrations page.

Are your business needs aligned with a cloud-based infrastructure? Organizations contemplated the pros and cons of maintaining their self-hosting capabilities versus something more in the realm of the SaaS model, which involves migrating your applications into a 3rd-party hosted infrastructure that manages everything for you.

On-premise versus cloud can cost your business more time and money and lead to an increased risk of vulnerability. So, the question "Should my business be in the cloud?" has evolved to "How can I get by business to cloud?"

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

How to get your foot in the door

So, it's 2022, and you're looking to move your business into the cloud and accelerate your path towards digital transformation. But, given all the options out there, where do you even begin? If your company uses Atlassian products, it's a great place to start. Atlassian has already taken the position of doubling down on cloud, and it's not a matter of when you'll have to migrate, but when.

Atlassian focuses heavily on supporting their customers during their migrations and are making significant investments in their cloud-based products and feverishly improving existing features.

No two cloud migrations are created alike. There's a lot to take in between users, access, apps, strategies, and so much more. This blog covers some of the things you'll need to keep an eye out for in those first stages of your migration. Also, learn more about different types of cloud migration strategies in this blog.

Whichever way you approach it, 2022 and beyond are sure to be significant years for Atlassian Cloud migrations. So there's never been a better time to take the leap. If you're interested in how Praecipio Consulting can help you plan your Atlassian Cloud migration with confidence, reach out to us today.

Topics: cloud cloud migration
3 min read

Selling Enterprise Service Management to IT and Beyond

By Luis Machado on Feb 1, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q1 Blog - ESM - Selling Enterprise Service Management to IT - Hero

Last year 80% of organizations had accelerated their digital transformation strategies due to the pandemic (Source: 2021 State of Service Management Report). In addition, the rise of the remote-working employee, in particular, has necessitated the need to replace manually-reliant ways of working with digital workflows that better suit the parameters of distanced working. 

IT Teams across the globe have had to advance their adoption of digital-first practices and processes to enable as much of the global workforce to work from home. As a result, many of those teams have implemented ITSM (IT Service Management) practices and are beginning to use a similar framework across their organization: enterprise service management. Learn the 6 benefits of implementing enterprise service management or ESM tool.

Enterprise service management uses IT service management (ITSM) principles and capabilities (including the ITSM tool) by other business functions to improve operations, service, experience, and outcomes – offers a ready-made solution for this corporate need for digital workflows.

You might also be interested in ITSM, ESM, or SM? What is Service Management and How Can It Help?

So, how do you implement a tool historically used by IT across a broad and diverse organization?

Selling Enterprise Service Management to the Wider Business

An important thing to appreciate when selling enterprise service management to the broader business is that the name will not resonate with the business functions looking for digital workflows and perhaps more overall digital transformation capabilities to solve their pandemic-related challenges. Another is that the IT personnel selling the value of enterprise service management to business colleagues need to “stay out of the weeds” – focusing on the outcomes rather than the minutia of ITSM.

Focus on the needs of the individual business function(s). If valuable, these can be matched to specific enterprise service management benefits – that sit under the umbrella of “better, faster, cheaper” – such as:

  • Optimized operations through best-practice digital workflows and other digital enablement capabilities
  • Improved employee and customer experience and satisfaction
  • Greater speed of operations and outcome delivery
  • Increased employee productivity – for both service requesters and service providers
  • Reduced costs – at both an operational and business level
  • Increased agility and scalability – especially with automation reducing the reliance on manual operations
  • Better meeting governance, compliance, and legal or regulatory requirements; plus, improved risk mitigation
  • Greater insight into operations, services, experience, and outcomes, plus improvement opportunities 
  • Amplified workflow benefits through the use of AI-enabled capabilities

Each of these benefits should be described in business function examples and terms, mapping to the business function needs to be provided—for example, the ability for HR personnel to collaboratively work on employee onboarding tasks while geographically distanced. For example, this blog shows how a legal team benefits from implementing enterprise service management. The above is a long and involved benefits list; it might be best to start with a punchy “What’s in it for you,” which could be your “elevator pitch” for enterprise service management. Then, hopefully, you’ll know what’s best to promote in the context of your organization and its challenges – with perhaps the need to tweak it slightly for each business function based on your knowledge of their specific requirements.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of enterprise service management and how to best sell it within IT and the broader business, then reach out, and let’s start talking.

Topics: enterprise it enterprise service management
9 min read

How to Use Appfire's Configuration Manager for Jira Cloud Migration Tool

By Luis Machado on Jan 18, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q1 Blog Partner - How to use Appfire's Config - Hero

Recently, Atlassian announced their shift in focus to the cloud and the decommissioning of their server product. As a result, Atlassian customers are no longer asking "if" they're moving to the cloud, but instead "when" and "how can we get there?"

Anyone who's ever been through migration can tell you that it can be a painful process. No team wants to sift through years of accumulated data to try and identify what stays and what goes. The process is about as appealing as cleaning the attic out of your grandparents' house. And potentially with more surprises. So, teams are looking for ways to make the process as smooth and surprise-free as possible.

The Praecipio Consulting team has empowered our clients to make their transition to the cloud as smooth as possible. We are constantly exploring the ecosystem, searching for options and partners to assist in that effort.

We've had the opportunity to do beta testing for a Jira add-on developed by our good friends at Appfire, which is an evolution of their Configuration Manager for Jira product (CMJ for short). The CMJ Cloud Migration Tool is Appfire's answer to the "how" part of companies' question.

We'll review some of the tool's current features and functionalities, explore potential use cases, and finally, talk through some possible features we're excited to see in the future.

 

The Migration Process

Let's walk through what migration looks like using the CMJ Cloud migration tool. We won't get into the nitty-gritty details of the process, but it's essential to understand how the tool functions at a high level to provide context around the features we're covering.

Setup

The setup process is straightforward, but there are a couple of pieces.

  • You'll first install the tool like any other add-on from the marketplace on your server instance. This app is free, so you can explore the features and functionality as much as you want.
  • In addition to having the on-prem app, you'll need to install a cloud counterpart as well. You can get a trial license for this app, which can be installed in the same manner as any cloud add-on.
  • Next, create an API token for your cloud site. This is what allows the on-prem add-on to talk to your cloud environment. A step-by-step process for setting up an API token can be found on Atlassian's Support site.
  • Once you've created your token, you can create a connection between your on-prem site and your cloud environment.

Create a Migration

With your environments all set up to talk to each other, you can now plan your migration.  Under the main page for CMJ, you get a dashboard that tracks the ratio of projects and issues you've migrated in your instance, as well as a list of reports around the migrations you've created. We really like the dashboard for this tool. It's sleek and clean and also provides some great information at a glance.

Creating your migration is easy and straightforward:

  • Create your migration and name it.
  • Attach your previously configured cloud connector (or create a new one).
  • Select the projects you wish to migrate.
  • Run the Analysis.
  • Review and resolve any data conflicts.

There's some nuance to be worked through with this. The above example is a simplified representation, but we wanted to highlight the core capabilities' value.

 

Key Features

Expanding a bit on our outlined process above, I'd like to emphasize that the CMJ Cloud Migration Tool does a couple of things well that I want to highlight, as these features would potentially bring a lot of value to a migration given the right situation.

Error Handling

Like its on-prem migration counterpart, the single best feature that this software has to offer is the ability to handle error correction against your data prior to migrating. Using the in-line correction tools, there's no chance of accidentally migrating broken data to your cloud environment, and you don't have to wait through the entire migration process to the end to receive errors. The analysis function checks the data before migrating to give you a clean and detailed overview. As a migration architect, one of my responsibilities is assessing the environments intended to be migrated, and sometimes that means telling clients that their baby is ugly. No migration is perfect, though, and usually, the older the instance, the more potential there is for issues.  The CMJ Cloud Migration tool does a great job of helping you tackle these issues to make sure none of that erroneous data attempts to make its way into your cloud environment.

Selective Migration

You can effortlessly get an overview of the projects and issues that exist on your instance and get an idea of how much of that data has been previously migrated. This can help you keep track of what's being migrated over a period of time to help facilitate phased migrations for those larger enterprise customers that just have way too much data to move in a single migration window. This can also be handy if you have specific teams that are ready to move to cloud while others still need more time or if there are some projects that are not intended to be brought over. Combined with the ability to choose all or a subset of projects in the migration creation phase, you get a lot of flexibility.

Conflict Avoidance

For combination migration/merges, this feature is handy. One of the main challenges around migrating to cloud comes up if you have both an existing cloud environment and an on-prem environment that you're looking to migrate and merge into one. With any merge migration, you will have data elements that may conflict from both sides. This could be custom fields, workflows, or any global Jira object.

We often see (especially with clients looking to do a merge migration) that some efforts have been to duplicate work in both environments. Either because one team decided to start over in cloud, or maybe the permissions were set up as such that a certain group couldn't access data that was in one environment or another. Whatever the reason, it's not uncommon to have duplicate or conflicting data.

The CMJ tool allows you to identify and resolve those conflicts in-line during your migration or as part of your testing, so you can get a full sense of what to expect, and make a plan to resolve them. This is something that normally has to be done in a painstaking manner prior to the migration, or results in a lot of man-hours utilized for cleanup in the target instance after the fact.

 

What's coming in the future

In its current state, the CMJ Cloud Migration Tool offers a lot of great features and functionality. It's a top contender for companies looking to do a migration from an on-prem Jira instance to the cloud. There's a lot to be excited about from Appfire's roadmap for the tool. In particular, there are several features that we're really excited to see come to fruition.

Cloud to Cloud Migration

Right now, cloud-to-cloud migrations are one of the most nebulous types of migration engagements that we perform, as there is currently no available solution for directly merging two cloud instances together. The process involves exporting and importing the cloud sites to an on-prem solution and re-importing the final product into cloud. This can be a complex and cumbersome endeavor, depending on how the cloud sites are configured, because of the feature differences between cloud and on-prem. Suppose the final evolution of the CMJ Cloud Migration tool allows users to have as smooth a merge/migration process in cloud as they do with merging server/data center instances. In that case, that's a massive win for everyone.

Jira Service Management

While the climate around migrating Jira Service Management (JSM) projects to the cloud is improving, it's still a bit of a wild west trying to get these projects migrated. JSM projects are currently a liability regarding cloud migrations and an immediate complexity increase if they're present. Having a fully fleshed-out solution for migrating these projects would be huge and provide some much-needed stability and reliability to the process.

Rollbacks

One of our favorite features of the CMJ tool is the rollback functionality. If there is an error in the migration, the app immediately kicks off a rollback and provides an error log when complete.

There's nothing like this that currently exists for cloud migration.

Once the data is moved, it's still there. If something is wrong and you get only a partial migration, it can be a bit of a bear to restore the instance to a usable state. Having a rollback functionality built-in that will revert the target instance to its pre-migration state automatically is not only a time saver but grants peace of mind.  This can also be useful in testing; sometimes, with migrations, it's hard to pinpoint what's going to work and what's not without just testing the migration. A rollback feature frees up the time it would take to restore a test environment if there are still adjustments to make.

 

Conclusion

Every migration is different, and it's essential to find the right tool for the job. The CMJ Cloud Migration Tool has a lot to offer out of the box, and the roadmap for future features looks incredibly promising.  In fact, during beta testing, the Appfire team shared with us that the Cloud Migration Tool successfully performed a single migration of 100 projects, 200k issues, and over 2 million configuration changes — so it's built to handle those large, customized, and complex Jira instances.

If you're an enterprise customer with a large instance and a lot of history behind it, you're going to need a solution to match. We encourage you to consider CMJ for your migration project, and if you are looking for a partner to help guide your organization through the process of an Atlassian Cloud migration, reach out to Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: jira technology-partners cloud migration
5 min read

Why You Should be Using an Enterprise Service Management Tool

By Luis Machado on Jan 11, 2022 10:28:01 AM

2022 Q1 Blog ESM - Why You Should be Using an ESM Tool - Hero

Enterprise Service Management solutions are beginning to make their way into every part of the organizational structure, breaking down silos and improving how teams work. Service Management uses IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities in other business functions to improve operations and outcomes.

The best way to understand how Enterprise Service Management solutions can transform your organization is to discuss the value that a Service Management approach brings to your teams.

3 Benefits of a Service Management Approach

While Enterprise Service Management might still be relatively new in people's minds, despite being a "thing" for over a decade, ITSM has been evolving for over three decades. There are many reasons for its success, including the following benefits that apply to both ITSM and Enterprise Service Management scenarios:

  1. Service-based thinking moves service providers from a supply view of the world to a demand-based view. This allows them to be better aligned with business wants and needs, including consumer-like services and support.
  2. The use of best practice Service Management guidance – using ITSM bodies of knowledge such as ITIL 4 – helps service providers to optimize their service delivery and support capabilities. After all, we've discussed how ITSM and ITIL aren't that different. This framework will help your business function to be all three of "better, faster, cheaper" in terms of the better operations:
    • Providing better outcomes and service experiences
    • Realizing efficiency gains and reduced operational costs.
  3. The consistency of operations leads to better outcomes and helps to improve employee morale and satisfaction.

These benefits are all then enabled and enhanced by using fit-for-purpose technology in the form of an ITSM tool that offers capabilities such as digital workflows, self-service, service request catalogs, knowledge availability, automation, and orchestration, collaborative abilities, and anytime and anyplace access.

Enterprise Service Management not only delivers optimized capabilities and a better service experience but also allows the service provider/receiver "dynamic." Service provider capabilities are now designed around the employee's needs rather than individual corporate service providers, such as human resources (HR), facilities, IT, etc.

6 Benefits of Using an Enterprise Service Management Tool

There are many enabling capabilities provided by an Enterprise Service Management tool, as outlined earlier, that can be directly translated into benefits for service requesters, service provider staff, and your organization as a whole. For example, employing fit-for-purpose technology allows you to:

  1. Facilitate the optimization of practices/processes and the people that work within them. The available digital workflows allow work to flow faster, as do technology-enabled knowledge management capabilities. This results in better outcomes and experiences, with associated productivity improvements for both service provider staff and the people they're serving.
  2. Offer a greater choice of access and communication channels to employees. With consumer-like omnichannel support available via chat (and chatbots) and self-service/help capabilities as well as the traditional telephone, email, and potentially "walk-up" channels. The use of self-service/help capabilities also increases the speed of resolution and minimizes the associated business function "handling" costs.
  3. Help manage demand for service and support. With self-help and chatbots, along with knowledge management, in particular offering the opportunity to deflect new requests and calls for status updates.
  4. Provide greater visibility into business function operations and performance, with the ability to better understand what has been achieved and what still needs to be accomplished. Plus, the identification of continuous improvement opportunities across operations, services, outcomes, and employee experience.
  5. Offer improved collaboration capabilities. Making it easier for work to be passed between, or worked on collectively by, various people and even across teams in different business functions.
  6. Provide a better return on investment (ROI) for the corporate ITSM tool. The more the ITSM tool – or what now might be called an Enterprise Service Management tool – is used to save time and money, the better the ROI for the tool.

ESM & AI

In addition to the traditional people and process technology-enablement, the growing availability of artificial intelligence (AI)-based capabilities in enterprise service management tools provides even higher levels of available benefits. For example, through intelligent automated ticket triage or chatbots as the first customer touchpoint. The impact of AI on enterprise service management will be covered in more detail in a future blog.

To Wrap Up

As you can see, the benefits of employing an Enterprise Service Management tool cover a broad spectrum of areas that impacts overall organizational performance. Like you, we examined business professionals about their adoption and thoughts regarding Enterprise Service Management tools. You can download the 2021 State of Service Management report here. Additionally, if you're still unsure if you should be calling it ITSM, ESM, or SM, you can check out this blog.

If we've convinced you that Enterprise Service Management tools can help you reduce friction, increase transparency, and increase your return-on-investment, then reach out, and we'll be in touch.

Topics: best-practices service-management enterprise service management
3 min read

The Risks of Using a Data Center: Final Fantasy XIV

By Luis Machado on Dec 17, 2021 11:00:44 AM

2021-Q4-PCM9629-Blogpost-Final-Fantasy-XIV-Blog-around-Cloud

It’s not often my personal and professional contexts cross paths, so I feel the need to jump on it when it happens. Dominating video game news and social media is the unfortunate situation plaguing Final Fantasy XIV. Produced by Square Enix, the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) has seen unprecedented and unexpected growth these last 12-18 months.

Their problem: They use physical data centers to house and operate the game during a global supply chain shortage and pandemic.

Their solution: They’ve temporarily discontinued the sale of all new games and paused their extensive free trial until they’re able to find an adequate solution.

Some History about Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV or FF14 for short) is a game that has had a storied past. Initially, it launched in 2010, receiving some of the worst reviews of any game I’ve ever seen. The game was destroyed, rebuilt almost entirely, and relaunched in 2013 to lukewarm fanfare. Over the last decade, the studio has worked tirelessly to rebuild its reputation and player trust. The game has just launched its fourth expansion, Endwalker, in December of 2021 to immense celebration and excellent reviews from the players who could access the game (namely those who could log on in off-peak times).

Traditionally, player populations within online games are easy to predict: when new content is released, players return for a few weeks before sliding off again. FFXIV’s previous expansion, Shadowbringers, bucked this trend, with players coming online and joining in increasing numbers throughout its lifecycle. Unfortunately, with the semiconductor shortage, supply chain issues, and COVID travel restrictions: Square Enix has been unable to fix the problem.

The Problem with Data Centers

If your infrastructure is based on physical servers, then this becomes a critical piece of business that can have substantial financial ramifications down the road. Not to suggest that it’s not essential if you’ve virtualized your infrastructure in the cloud. Still, it’s certainly much easier to recover from, and the impact is potentially not as dire.

Since FFXIV is hosted on physical servers, the only way to increase their capacity is by purchasing more hardware and getting it added to the data centers or possibly standing up a new data center (which is something they’re trying to do). But, as we said before, they’ve been unable to get their hands on new parts. 

How Players are Impacted

Thousands of players in a queue means your login time can be upwards of 2,3, even 4 or 5 hours. You have to sit here during this time, by the way. System errors and queue limitations mean you can be errored out at any point. It’s caused a lot of consternation and outright anger within the FFXIV community.

How Square Enix is Impacted

At this point, the company has suspended new sales of the game and has refunded nearly a month of game time back to the players while they work to fix their congestion issues. All of this translates into lost revenue. Having a great game that’s fun to play means nothing if people can’t buy it.

Imagine if They Used the Cloud

First, let me start by stating that the company and the game’s director have been interviewed on this topic before. Porting a decade-old online game to the cloud is something they’ve looked into in the past. They deemed it too costly and too high a risk to take on with the resources on hand.

Now, imagine if Square Enix had FFXIV’s infrastructure hosted in the cloud, this launch would have been a whole different story, possibly as one of the most successful expansion launches to date and one of the greatest MMO comebacks in history. All the increased need for capacity would be a couple of clicks away, or maybe it would just happen if they had some infrastructure as code implemented.

What Happens Next?

It remains to be seen how this will continue to unfold. Square Enix has several game patches already scheduled to be released to keep the content flow going. This means it might be time for interest to die down but might also continue to fuel customer frustrations if the company cannot resolve its issues.

I don’t think there’s any way they could have predicted what would occur with this launch. But, on the other hand, if they had, they may have found it worth the cost after all.

We’ve worked with all kinds of companies in the past, game companies included. If you’re interested in seeing how we helped them prepare for the digital future, you can read about it here. Need to make your leap to the cloud? Get in touch with us; we can help.

Topics: data-center gaming risk
3 min read

Trello 101: An Introduction

By Luis Machado on Jul 23, 2021 12:21:13 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Trello 101 - An introduction to using Trello_1

Welcome to Trello 101! In this post, we'll be talking about the basic functionality Trello has to offer that can get you up and running quickly and start managing work for you and your team. We will explore the basic features of Trello and define some of the terminology used. To help illustrate some of these points I've created a template board you can copy over to get started and use to follow along with.

What is Trello?

Trello is an online application used for managing work. It allows for quick and easy team collaboration and empowers you with various methods of customization to tailor your workflow to meet any requirements. Think of it as a glorified digital white board with sticky notes you can use to record and track progress of different tasks! Either with a team or by yourself, Trello offers a way to turn your task list into a visual representation that you can interact with. The level of use ranges from simple beginners to complex power users, with automation and integrations built in. So without further ado, let's take a look at what makes up a board.

Boards

The first thing we need to do is establish what a board is. The board is essentially the personalized site that all of your information lives on: it's where all the organization happens, where you'll setup your workflow, create task items, invite team members for collaboration etc. Boards can be project or team specific, you can create a board for anything, you could even run a D&D campaign off of it. The sky's the limit.

Within the board on the right-hand of the screen lives your board menu. This is where you can manage your team members on the board in terms of their permissions, filter you view through the card search, utilize power-ups or setup any automations.

Trello 101 - An introduction-boards

Lists

Lists are essentially going to represent your workflow. In the example template, the vertical columns are your lists and represent the various stages that your work progresses through. This is the most typical use, but lists can also be used for establishing context on the board. The 'General Information' list houses the instructions for how the board can be used.

Trello 101 - An introduction-lists

Cards

Within the lists we have cards. Cards are the items of work that are to be performed or tracked through the workflow. Whenever you have a new task to track, you can create a card for it with a header and a description, and drag and drop it through the various lists as work progresses. In the template board I've created a few example cards to show the various functionality.

Trello 101 - An introduction-cards

Labels

Labels are a way to group tasks together. In the example of a software development project, you could have labels to represent the different elements like UI/UX, Localization, Codebase etc. In a team management setting you can have different labels for the different groups, you could also use labels to identify priority. They're customizable enough to serve whatever purpose you have for them. In the example board we are using them to identify priority of tasks. You can apply a label to a card by selecting the card and clicking on the 'labels' option in the right side menu.

Trello 101 - An introduction-labels

Adding Team members

Once your board is complete and you're ready to start working, you can invite team members to join your board by clicking on the 'invite' button in the top-middle of the board and adding their email address, or by creating an invite link to allow anyone with the link to join.

Trello 101 - An introduction-members

And that's it! You're ready to rock and roll. I encourage you to use the basic template to get started with to get a feel for how the site works. Once you're comfortable enough with it you can start to branch out into using power ups and automations. 

If you have any question on Trello, or any other Atlassian product, reach out and one of our experts will gladly help!

Topics: blog best-practices tips trello atlassian-products
3 min read

Tips for Being a Successful UAT Tester

By Luis Machado on Jul 9, 2021 12:48:44 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Tips for being a successful UAT tester_1

User acceptance testing (UAT) is a critical practice to employ for a multitude of products and processes.  For the purpose of this article most of my examples will be within the context of migrating or merging instances for Atlasssian products. Nonetheless, these tips can be used for other avenues: I actually picked up these habits working as a QA tester for a video game publisher.

Context is king

When testing a product or a process, such as a migration or a merger of two instances, if you come across any issues, the most important thing you can do is provide as much context as possible so the developer or admin whose responsibility it is to correct the issue can have as best of an understanding as possible of how the issue came about. The best way to achieve this is by telling them what you did (repro steps), telling them what you expected to happen (expected result), and then telling them what actually happened (actual result).  By providing the steps you took and giving the context of what you expected from those steps, followed by what actually happened, it paints a better picture for the team in charge of dealing with it.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen

Speaking of pictures, we used to have a saying on the QA team I worked with: “Screenshot or it didn’t happen.” If you can provide a screenshot of your issue, you increase the chance that the person responsible for resolving the issue will be able to address it without any back and forth.  Screenshots of any errors you see on pages, or incorrect configurations of data, help identify the exact issue, with no room for interpretation.  If you’re doing user acceptance testing, a screenshot of the UAT instance where the issue lives and what it looks like in production is even better. Again we’re trying to establish context for what your expectation was and what you actually saw.

Often during migrations or mergers, the individuals who are performing the work do not have the context of what the content is and what it should look like.  This is why user acceptance testing is such a valuable tool: It gives the users a chance to scope out the changes and see if anything looks wrong.  So it is the tester’s job to provide as much information as possible to resolve any issues. Here’s an example of an issue related to a migration:

  • Summary - Write a brief summary of the issue you’ve run into, it can be a simple statement, 2-3 sentences at most. (This can be optional depending on the medium for reporting the issue, if you’re using a Jira project to track bugs this would be important. If you’re tracking things in a table, the description would probably be sufficient)
  • Description - Provide a detailed description of what you observed. Include specifics like a link to the exact page or any particular tools used. This is a situation where less is less, more is more.
  • Reproduction Steps - Give a detailed step by step walkthrough of how you achieved the result.
  • Expected Result - At the end of the reproduction steps explain what you expected to see.
  • Actual Result - Also describe what you actually saw; be sure to indicate how this is different from the result you expected.
  • Expected and Actual results can sometimes be obvious or at least seem that way, just remember that it may be obvious to you but not necessarily to someone with a different context.
  • Screenshots - Where possible, include screenshots of the errors or issue you witnessed, and provide a comparison if possible to paint that contextual picture.

The most important thing to remember when doing testing of any kind is providing context. Always assume you can’t… assume anything! Treat it like the person you’re explaining the issue to has no idea what you’re talking about.  And if you have any questions regarding UAT, or how it can make the most of your processes, drop us a line, we'd love to help you out!

Topics: atlassian migrations tips gaming user-acceptance-testing merge
5 min read

Pros and Cons of a Cloud Migration

By Luis Machado on Jul 5, 2021 12:23:50 PM

pros and cons of a cloud migration

Thinking a move to cloud might be the way to go for your company, but you're not exactly sure if such a move is right for you? There are a few questions you should ask yourself about your organization to understand the context of what a migration to cloud would mean for you.  As you're navigating the pros and cons associated with migrating from on-prem solution to cloud, you have to understand that how these factors are weighed largely depend on the context of your organization. Asking the following questions will help you establish that context:

Why move to cloud?

For context, the term 'Cloud' can be somewhat ambiguous, so if not otherwise stated I'm referring to cloud in the SaaS sense (Software as a Service), that is, maintained by a 3rd party and available in a cloud setting, such as the Atlassian product suite. There are other flavors of cloud out there, but the SaaS model is where we'll maintain our focus. The first question you want to answer is why? Why are you considering moving to cloud in the first place? Are there any specific pain points you are feeling in your current setup that you think might be alleviated by moving to cloud? Understanding what your potential need is for a cloud migration will help you to develop a business justification for the endeavor, as well as allow you to start to build the context of your specific situation. If the reason is "We're spending too much time on maintaining infrastructure for our on-prem solutions" then something like having no maintenance in a cloud environment would be weighed very heavily in your case.

What are you moving?

What are you going to be moving?  What does your current on-prem setup look like? How big is your userbase? What 3rd party add ons or apps are you using? Are you using a single instance and are wanting to consolidate in addition to migrating to cloud?  How much historical data do you have? These questions can help to establish the potential complexity of the migration you're looking to perform.  One of the major considerations that has to be factored into a cloud migration is the cost of entry. This extends from just the literal monetary cost to include time and human resources as well. If your company can't afford to divert labor to perform a migration, is it worth it for you to contract the project out to a 3rd party? Having an idea of what you are migrating will help you weigh the various options and give you perspective to consider the impact.

Pros

Now that you've established the context for you migration, let's take a moment to talk about the potential pros around migrating to cloud.  When comparing cloud to an on-prem solution, you can really break down the pros into four main points:

  • Accessibility
  • Scalability
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

Let's take a look at the first point, Accessibility. One of the great things about cloud is that it's accessible from almost anywhere in the world right out of the box. You don't have to configure any VPNs or allow lists, no special permissions groups to modify, all the data replication and content delivery is managed for you, and has a low cost to entry.

Scalability is another major pro in favor of a move to cloud and falls along similar lines as Accessibility, and typically goes hand in hand with Maintenance. The infrastructure behind the application or service is purpose-built on a platform intended to be scalable in order to support multiple customers.

Add to this the fact that you no longer have to be responsible for maintaining that infrastructure, you can focus efforts and resources elsewhere in your organization. If maintaining infrastructure is something in particular your business struggles with, making a shift to cloud can have a huge positive impact.

This leads us nicely into the topic of cost.  Depending on the specific context, cost can sometimes go either way: I'm including it in the pros section because I think in most cases, especially if you factor in for the long term, your costs overall will be lower with a move to cloud. Figuring costs in a cloud move takes some doing because there can be differences in the types of costs you'll encounter in a cloud setting vs. an on-prem. Again, because this can be pretty heavily dependent on the context of the specific situation being analyzed, I'll throw out a few common factors but I don't want to give any potentially wrong impressions. Cloud vs on prem costs infographic

In the table above I've done quick breakdown to illustrate the basic differences around Cloud and On-Prem, and I've added another column to include the option of moving to cloud as SaaS model vs self-hosted cloud. Cloud hosted and On-Prem hosted have some similar costs categories (licensing, infrastructure) but there is some reprieve you get from cloud specifically around the depreciation of hardware and maintaining the infrastructure. In a cloud model this is mostly tied to licensing and the monthly cost operating fees associated with the virtual hardware you have allocated for your purposes. Versus the more traditional model of maintaining physical servers, the personnel costs associated with that upkeep, and the cost you incur with depreciation. In a SaaS model this all mostly wrapped into the licensing cost, which is typically why licensing for cloud is both more expensive and more complex. 

Cons

There are of some potential tradeoffs and downsides to consider as part of a move to the cloud. The biggest areas that might cause you or your organization trouble include Control, Security, and Flexibility.

When you break it down, the concepts of control and security almost go hand-in-hand.  Control is probably the hardest thing to overcome when talking about moving your data to the cloud and understandably so. The bottom line of operating in cloud environment is your data lives somewhere outside of your organization and the infrastructure is managed by another entity. You're putting your data and your trust into someone else's hands. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can take some getting used to, and some adjusting of your internal methods or practices. Being familiar with the support process can help with this as know what information you can request and how to get it will help to alleviate some of the disjointed feeling when attempting to manage your application.

On the security front, if your company has very specific security requirements or has specific regulatory bodies you have to comply with, there is an extra layer of consideration when weighing the prospect of moving to cloud. It's important to first identify what those needs are and reach out to the cloud provider ahead of time to find out if those requirements can be accommodated.

Lastly it's important to consider that moving to a cloud application means you will not have access to anything beyond the application layer. This can mean workarounds previously in use with the on-prem solution may need to be re-considered or re-engineered, and there are potentially additional restrictions around API calls and traffic to/from the application. Spending some time discovering what your needs are vs what is available to you in a cloud setting will be key to realizing these potential pitfalls.

We are getting to a point where we're moving from "Is cloud the right choice?" to "Which form of cloud is the right choice?" Not all situations involving cloud are the same, and careful consideration and weighing of options is important for any potential move.  Having the right tools to plan and execute the transition as well as an understanding of the context of your environment can make all the difference when deciding how to move forward.

If you have any questions on migrating to cloud, have run into trouble implementing a migration, or simply want to see if your organization is making the most of its digital infrastructure and operations, contact us and one of our experts will reach out to you.

Topics: blog saas cloud digital-transformation cloud migration
3 min read

Should I get an Atlassian Certification (ACP) to be a Jira Admin?

By Luis Machado on May 26, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Atlassian Certification Program Should I get an ACP certification to be a Jira admin-To quickly answer the question: YES. At least that was the answer for me.  I’ve been an Atlasssian admin for nearly 7 years and I’ve only just this year received my first Atlasssian certification (ACP-600 in case you were curious).   It’s only recently that I’ve been able to really appreciate the value of getting certified, and I plan to go for as many certifications as I’m able to.  

Getting certified was something that I had thought about from time to time, but honestly I didn’t see how it would help me be better at my job.  I had put in a request with my employer to see if they would compensate me for the cost and never really heard anything back.  The cost was enough for me at the time that if my employer wasn’t going to worry about it, then I certainly wasn’t.

Fast forward several years and I find myself laid off, and in search of job. The layoff was budget related, the company was having some issues bringing products to market and so cuts were made all over. Even given that I found myself in a position and a state of mind that I hadn’t ever really considered I’d be in.  Those who have experienced being laid off know that it can actually be a pretty traumatic event, especially if it’s from somewhere you’ve worked for a long time.  I wanted to continue working in the Atlasssian ecosystem as it was something that I had become very familiar and very fond of.

After revamping and updating my resumé, I quickly realized that on paper I didn’t really seem to offer a whole lot to a prospective employer.  I had a decent amount of experience in my field but all I had to offer was my word.  Now, in an interview that could be enough.  If you can talk shop, and give enough context for the things you’ve done in a presentable and coherent manner, then an employer could potentially see the value in what you have to offer.

I was fortunate that eventually that actually happened for me and I landed a job with Praecipio Consulting, but before that, I had to fall back on other skills from previous jobs I had done.  Part of the requirements for companies that are Atlasssian Partners is maintaining a certain level of certification, being certified from the get go gives you a potential advantage. Looking back, I can see that me not having any certifications not only reduced my potential to even land that interview, but maybe also played a part in me being laid off in the first place. 

Certifications and similar credentials are there to prove to everyone else that you know what you’re doing and you’re continuing to grow, and learn, and become more proficient in your craft.  There is another aspect to this though that had not really occurred to me until now and that is, not only does it prove to others you have the skills to pay the bills, but also to yourself.  When you have something tangible that validates all the time and effort you’ve put into becoming the professional you are, it gives you the confidence to raise your own expectations.  This is something that is beneficial to the employer and employee alike. If I’m ever again in a position where I’m re-entering the job market looking for that next stage, I will be exponentially more confident that I’ll be able to find something, because I’m taking the time to ensure my resumé reflects my skills with official validation. 

So if you’re an Atlasssian professional, you like the toolset, you see yourself staying within the ecosystem and want to progress, do yourself a favor and start getting certified.  I recommend first going to your employer and seeing if they would be willing to cover the cost. Even if they’re not willing, it’s worth it for you to pursue it on your own.  It’s reassurance for the employer, but it’s an investment for the employee. One that will show dividends down the road, regardless of where it leads you.

If you have any questions regarding the Atlassian certification process: contact us, we'd love to talk you through your options.

Topics: jira atlassian blog training atlassian-certification-program
2 min read

Jira Administration: Sys Admin vs Jira Admin vs Project Admin

By Luis Machado on Mar 2, 2021 7:35:43 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Administration- Sys Admin vs. Jira Admin vs. Project Admin2When thinking about Jira administration, or really administration of any software, project, or endeavor, the old idiom “too many cooks in the kitchen” often comes to mind. There’s a fine line between empowering your user base and setting the stage for mass hysteria and confusion within your instance. Fortunately Jira offers some out-of-the-box options to help with setting up boundaries for those users who need more control over the instance but keep them from wreaking too much havoc.

Admins

We’ll start with the bottom, Project Admins. There was a time in ancient Atlasssian historical records when those who were managing projects almost had to be System Admins as well. This was because the permissions needed to make necessary regular changes to the projects these individuals were maintaining required as such. Atlasssian has been improving upon this incrementally as of Jira 7. Since that update it is possible for Project Admins to add Components and Versions to their projects and even as of 7.3, expanded with 7.4, make adjustments to the workflow among other things. So if you’re evaluating your System Admin group and discover that many of the individuals are really only responsible for maintaining specific projects it would behoove you to re-assign those you can to the Project Admin role within the projects they are responsible and get them out of your kitchen.

The next level of administration is the Jira Administrator. Now this is where things can maybe become a bit confusing because the powers granted to that of the Jira Administrator are very similar to that of the System Administrator, but there is a very key distinction which we’ll explore. Those within the Jira Administrators group are not able to make changes related to the server environment or network. This would prevent them from making changes to things such as configuring mail server settings, export/import data to and from XML, configure user directories, as well as many more functions related to the system as a whole. Where this could be useful is delegating out some of the more regular tasks such as creating new projects, creating users, etc. This gives larger organizations a way to separate out the tasks without increasing the risk of potential hazardous changes to the application.

After having covered the last two, the final role should be somewhat obvious. The System Administrator permission is for the Grand Poobah of the Royal Order of Buffalos. This role allows unlimited access to all aspects of the Jira instance. It is recommended that only 1 - 3 people maintain this permission as needed. Again, the idea is to ensure that there is concise and regulated changes being made to the instance as well as accountability. With great power comes great responsibility. When in doubt, opt for the lesser of two evils when granting administrative permissions. You can always bump them up If it’s not serving your needs. Again, the goal is to empower your user base, not have them overpower you.

For question on admins, or anything else Jira, contact us, and one of our Jira experts will get in touch.

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator best-practices
3 min read

Tips for Archiving Your Confluence Spaces

By Luis Machado on Oct 23, 2020 12:15:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Archiving Confluence spaces

Projects come and go, and sometimes what we once thought was a great idea may no longer be relevant or you've evolved your thought process. Since we're all undoubtedly great at documentation, chances are every one of your projects or endeavors has been noted or tracked in some fashion. Confluence, of course, is a great tool to do this with, especially if you organize your project all within the same space. But what do you do with that documentation when it's time to hang up the towel?

Usually, some record of your success or failure must be kept for posterity or perhaps, compliance. Whatever your motivations, archiving is important and Confluence allows us an easy way to do this natively. In this post, we'll focus on the native feature to archive spaces and also share some apps that could help you to organize archived content at the page level.

There are several reasons you might want to archive content in your Confluence instance, and it all depends on the life cycle of your projects or groups. To give an example, I worked for a game publisher for many years, and we would archive spaces after sunsetting (a term used to shut down a game product) one of our games. The major advantage to archiving is the content is still available in Confluence for reference purposes but won't show up in any page searches you perform nor will it appear in the Space Directory. This keeps your daily traffic from being cluttered with content from spaces that are no longer relevant to your business.

So you've reached a point in a project where it's officially time to move on, but the leadership team wants to keep the space for reference since some good ideas came out of the endeavor. Archiving the space seems to be the way to go, but how do you do that? Atlassian has put together a great document that details the steps for archiving in a cloud environment. To briefly summarize the process, you navigate to the portion of the space tools that contains the details and edit them, set the status to archived, and save. Pretty simple.

If at any time after archiving the space there is a request within your organization to review the archived content, you can link to the pages directly, and they will still be accessible. The search functionality within Confluence will automatically allow you to specify if you want to search through archived content in the case that the content available.

Atlassian also gives guidance on how to archive specific pages, which you can accomplish through a combination of manually moving pages and adjusting permissions to achieve similar results for the space archiving functionality. There are also third-party apps available, such as Better Content Archiving for Confluence, which gives you an increased toolset to make the archiving processes a bit less work. I recommend installing any third-party apps you wish to try into a dev or test environment before running on your production instance. One last thing to note, if you end up archiving a space accidentally or perhaps want to revisit an archived project and need the space to be active, you can easily change the archive setting to make the space available again.

If you need help managing your Confluence instance and want to learn how your organization can take full advantage of this tool, get in touch with Praecipio Consulting

Topics: best-practices confluence confluence-archives
4 min read

How To Run D&D Campaigns With Trello

By Luis Machado on May 28, 2020 11:07:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_How Jira helps your team work remotely copy 3

It’s 2020, and the reality for a lot of folks has seemingly changed overnight. Working from home, remote meetings, a whole slew of new tools to learn and master. It’s a strange new world, and not just for our professional lives but our personal lives as well. So how do we make the change? How can we adapt to this new frontier?

I’ve been playing games with friends on the internet for several years now, way before social distancing practices became the norm. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart, I can still lead a group of close friends through the dark, dangerous lairs and pitting them against frightening creatures, all for glory and the pursuit of the almighty gold coin. There are a plethora of tools available that allow people to play tabletop games without the table, such as Roll 20, D&D Beyond, Discord, Skype, among several others. But there is a distinct lack of tools available for the person running the game, the game master, the dungeon master, the decider of fates, and facilitator of adventure to keep it all organized.  

When running a game there is A LOT to keep track of: monsters, treasure, characters, towns, plot points. If you’re using an old school pen and paper, you’re going to need a mighty large binder. Naturally, the desire to digitize this content has led to some creative methodologies. The one that has stuck with me is using a site that falls right within my wheelhouse: Trello.

At its core, Trello is a tool that helps you manage lists for collaboration. You create a list and then populate it with cards. The title of the card shows up in the list, clicking on the card lets you see an expanded view with more detail. You can also add custom labels to create color codes.

I first came across this idea from a post on Reddit called "DMing with Trello". This method gives you easy access to a board for the DM (as in Dungeon Master!) screen to have frequently referenced rules and definitions handy, a way for tracking combat, and board for managing campaign-specific content.

Campaign Content

dd1

While I'll breakdown how I manage my campaigns, how you organize your lists can vary. I started with making a list for the town Daggerford, where the players interact with each other. Each special location within the town has is its own Trello card. These locations, like a blacksmith, inn, or tavern can be listed for easy reference and the numbers in my list correspond to locations indicated on a map. The use of the built-in labels lets you categorize cards within a list, and the sorting view lets you filter the list with a specific category. So, if I’m looking for just blacksmiths, for example, I can filter the list for just that category.

dd2

dd3

Clicking on one of the cards brings up a larger, more detailed view where you can keep your notes.

dd4

Cards can also be formatted using markup to let you get as fancy as you want.  You can also extend functionality if you’re using Google Chrome by installing a browser extension: Trello Card Optimizer.

dd5

Combat Tracker

dd6

The combat tracker is a series of lists. The first list is where I set the turn order (top to bottom). Each subsequent list is a round of combat, numbered accordingly, and the players and monsters are all cards. You can arrange them all in turn order and then advance them to the next round when it’s their turn by clicking on them and dragging them to the next list. 

Keeping track of combat can be particularly tricky in an online situation. Using Trello gives you an easy, straightforward way to do it.  In this setting, I use the labels for various statuses and ailments. Poisoned by a snake? Petrified by a basilisk? There’s a label for that! Lastly, I keep a card or two at the top of the initiative list for easy access to the music links I use.

DM Screen

dd7

Last, but not least, is the DM screen. Set up in a similar manner to the campaign content, this board offers you the ability to quickly reference game rules that you frequently have to look up. How does grapple work again? What happens when a character is blinded? All these questions and more can be answered here, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally bending or tearing your rule book between sessions.

The DM screen is available as a public board that you can copy to your own account, allowing you to customize it to suit your game. I highly recommend using the Trello Card Optimizer with Chrome because it adds a lot of visual organization to your cards and board. 

Now get out there (and by "out there", I mean exploring the world of Trello from your home), and take a shot at organizing your game. As a final note, when the time comes to reunite with your players for an in-person session, you can travel light with just a laptop and have all your hard work available at your fingertips.

For more information on Trello and the Atlassian suite of products, reach out to your favorite Dungeon Master...er...Platinum Solutions Partner. Happy gaming!

 

 

Topics: collaboration project-management trello atlassian-products

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