Best of JIRA Add-Ons: Configuration Manager
Next up, we’re featuring Configuration Manager, the ultimate deployment and configuration automation tool. This add-on allows JIRA admins to capture project or system configurations and automatically deploy them on other JIRA servers in minutes — saving thousands of man hours.
Why we love it!
Once we’ve implemented customizations for companies, they often want to deploy those setups to other parts of the company as JIRA adoption grows. And with Configuration Manager you can deploy with confidence, because all changes can be previewed and analyzed before they are rolled out, so you know how the projects will be impacted.
We go behind the scenes with an interview with the makers of Configuration Manager, Botron Software.
Justin: So I thought it might be interesting getting a sense of your company culture. How do you define yourselves as a company?
Peter Toudjarski: Our core competencies are captured in the “powered by pie squared” slogan that we put on our business cards. Pie stands for passion, innovation, and excellence. We don’t hire anyone who is not innovative, who does not have passion for software and who is not focused on excellence. We are very happy with the team we have put together.
Justin: We want to get the founding story of Configuration Manager, how did it start?
Peter: It started a long time ago, in December 2012. We used to work together and are friends, so we wanted to do some software together, but always the question was ‘what?’ I was working at that time with the Serena Business Manager Platform, which is very similar to JIRA. Serena has something called Deployment Manager, which would capture configuration information automatically, and that is essentially what Configuration Manager does. However, Deployment Manager didn’t provide a very good analytics of how the new deployment is going to affect the system and that’s why this feature was the centerpiece of our design. We wanted to make sure we do better than what they have there at Serena. Do you know what Serena called the actual configuration pieces there? They called them mash ups. Justin: Yeah, that makes sense. They had an 85 step Visio workflow that no one understood. No one understood every part of it at their company, that’s for sure. Peter: I’ve seen 439 steps, that’s the record I’ve seen on Serena. That’s not the transitions. Just the steps in the workflow.
Justin: What’s the message that most convinces people that they should be using Configuration Manager?
George Dinkov: I think people like the ability to have deep analysis of the changes they are introducing. That is why people are choosing Configuration Manager. It’s not like a black box, you push a button and then you don’t know what’s happening. It’s not just the productivity part of it, that you can do thousands of changes within minutes, but the confidence of understanding exactly what’s going to happen with your production system, as if you were doing it manually. That’s a key part of our success so far.
Megan: What’s the feedback you hear most often from customers?
George: The most encouraging thing is when we meet customers face to face, and they say ‘Hey guys, I had a 6 month project and I did it in two days. It’s awesome, without you we couldn’t rescale our crucial configurations’. We’re on some of the largest JIRA installations in the world. We have one customer with 20 enterprise JIRA instances, and they use Configuration Manager on a daily basis and they have a team of only 5 admins. Without it, that would never work. They created a whole new process of promoting configuration and testing it, which works really well. So everything now is being tracked with tickets and they are confident it’s being tested and before it’s introduced in production, so both ends, the business sides are helping with acceptance testing and the operations guys are happy with the ability to handle the workloads and people are sort of stress free.
Justin: Tell us about 200% Delegated Administration for JIRA, I know you recently wrote a blog about it.
George: In JIRA there aren’t ways for the administrator to delegate certain safe configuration operations while at the same time restricting potentially dangerous configuration operations. Its either all or nothing, granting admin access is like handing them the key to the whole castle. The ideal scenario we call 200% Delegated Administration for JIRA, which allows Project Admins to develop changes to the JIRA configuration of the projects they own in a development environment. Then they use Configuration Manager to create project snapshots of their changes and deploy it on the UAT server for testing. Then JIRA admins can deploy to a Staging server to analyze the impact of those changes and decide what to put into production. This allows non-admin users to have 100% flexibility to make configuration changes and JIRA admins to have 100% control over what changes are introduced.
Justin: What should we say about the new release?
George: We’re also currently working on supporting configurations for JIRA Service Desk. Building the tools around that is a huge effort, as there aren’t supported APIs for it.
Justin: Do you want to mention a little about another one of your products, Cycle Control?
Peter: Yes, we should mention it! Cycle Control brings Agile practices for managing Programs and Releases in JIRA. It is conceptually novel approach, where initiatives are being tracked using custom metrics across multiple teams and many sprints. In addition to the metrics, the user can define intermediate checkpoints using stages, quality gates, milestones, checklists and approvals. Basically everything you need to determine accurately the status and risk of the initiative. It is specifically designed for Program and Project Managers, Release Managers and Scrum Masters, Directors and VPs, which until now weren’t main personas in the JIRA ecosystem. We are very excited about it and the reactions from the customers are extremely good as there isn’t anything like it on the market now. You can read all about it!