Jira instance integration – Jira federation 2.0


29 July 2019 • 9 min read

    In the previous article, we discussed what the Jira Federation is. In a nutshell, it’s two or more Jira instances that are connected to each other with AppLinks. The purpose of this configuration is exchanging information and creating connections between applications or assemblies in separate Jira applications.

    Sounds interesting, right? I admit that such an idea, in particular, one that carries such a nice name – the Federation, is attractive for organizations that use more than one instance of Jira. If teams want to improve something, every coach will say that you should start with improving communication. This is also the foundation of the Jira Federation.

    However, don’t let your imagination carry you away. The Jira federation is often enough to satisfy an organization’s requirements, but it doesn’t solve all problems.

    What are the possibilities of Jira instance integration?

    A unified stream of activity

    The activity streams not only show updates from the instance you are on but also from the connected Jira applications or other instances of Atlassian products (e.g., Confluence or Fisheye). When we picture this situation, let’s assume that we have two companies working together on the project. By combining their instances, Jira can update work status changes with one another thanks to unified activity streams.

    Unified reporting panels

    You can add gadgets to the Jira dashboard that retrieve data from another connected and trusted Jira instance. That enables a unified overview of reports of all relevant instances. In addition to standard gadgets, you can also create your own.

    Remote connection problems

    Thanks to this functionality, we can remotely connect the relevant problems in two separate instances. It gives us the opportunity not only to monitor dependencies but also oversee this problem remotely.

    Links to projects

    Imagine a situation where we have two instances of Jira, one internal and one external. One of them is used for working on the development of a specific product, and the other to support it through links. We can now facilitate the connection between these two projects.

    Jira Issue Copy (Atlassian Labs)

    An interesting feature, which is not supported by Atlassian yet, is the Jira Issue Copy. It allows the user to copy a problem from one Jira instance to another within a Federation.

    User directory

    It is true that this is no longer an option that counts as a component of the Jira Federation. However, I think it is worth mentioning it. The user directory gives you the opportunity to log into other Atlassian applications using the same data as logging in to Jira. However, this solution is not popular in larger organizations where users are managed by dedicated solutions such as Atlassian Crowd and MS Active Directory.

    Integration of Jira instances – restrictions

    In my opinion, the current shape of the Federation is immature. When I heard about it for the first time, I was thrilled – but that quickly changed. Unfortunately, real data and information integration are lacking in the Federation.

    Two points that display the limits of the Federation are:

    • No possibility of data exchange (notifications, comments, attachments);
    • Forcing an account in both systems and appropriate improvements to see related reports.

    How to create perfect integration or Federation 2.0?

    However, it’s still possible to develop an appropriate solution. Take a closer look at all the advantages and disadvantages and combine them in such a way as to use the Jira Federation to optimize your work. What options do we have?

    • Build what we lack (customization).
    • Use a read-made addition to Jira.

    Functionality personalization.

    Several Jira mechanisms will make this task easier for us, like the REST API and WebHook.

    A big challenge will surely be the construction of appropriate mechanisms for queuing changes and handling exceptional situations such as the temporary unavailability of a second Jira instance. However, this may result in information loss. This solution is likely to work well in undemanding teams, for example, to exchange fewer key data.

    Out-of-the-box solution

    However, if we decide to try the second option, we can purchase the IssueSYNC app that allows synchronizing applications, comments, attachments, creating and updating fields, as well as changing workflow statuses. The app is constantly being developed to become more comprehensive. 

    In addition, an important advantage of this solution is:

    • guarantee that messages will not be lost when the external Jira instance is unavailable. They will be sent when availability is restored;
    • professional monitoring and alerting about integration problems;
    • no requirement for each user to have their account in both Jira instances.
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