You’ve tested out Jira and thought it was pretty good. And now the question is – should you go with Cloud, or with Server?
Comparing Jira Cloud vs Server is in essence a comparison between a rental and an ownership.
Think about an apartment rental. Maintenance is taken care of for you, and when something goes wrong, the Super will fix it. But if you want to knock the down the wall to connect your kitchen… good luck convincing the rental company.
Similarly, if you own a house, you can customize it however you’d like. It’s also unlikely you’ll suddenly be left homeless if you violated some rule. But, if your pipes explode in the middle of winter, you’re going to be the one who has to fix that.
Thus, the real question is – do you just want to rent the use of Jira or to own your Jira?
- Why You Might Choose Jira Cloud over Server
- Why You Might Choose Jira Server over Cloud
Why You Might Choose Jira Cloud over Server
The thing is, there are very little unique benefits to Jira Cloud. If you take a look at Atlassian’s list for the pros and cons of Jira Cloud here, you’ll see that all of the items in the ‘pros’ category apply to Jira Server too. That being said, there are two very specific reasons why you might choose Jira Cloud over Server. I will explore them below and you can determine whether they apply to you.
I also want to mention here that when I say ‘Jira Cloud’, I do also mean ‘Atlassian Cloud’. For interests of consistency, I’ll keep using the term ‘Jira Cloud’. However, Jira Cloud is actually a part of Atlassian Cloud.
1. The Pricing for Jira Cloud is Better for Small Teams
If you take a look at the pricing tables, you’ll find that a Jira Cloud license is actually more expensive to purchase than a Jira Server license.
This is especially true for teams of 1-10 people, where Cloud demands $10/month (or $100/year). Server only asks for an one-time payment of $10 with the option to continue paying $10 annually for maintenance and support.
Actually, the pricing for the licenses themselves favour Jira Server. For example, at 51-100 users Server asks $6600 the first year and then $3300 for every subsequent year, while Cloud asks for $7000 every year.
The only time Jira Cloud is cheaper than Jira Server is at 11-15 users. However, an amount like 11-15 users will almost never remain 11-15 users, especially if your business expands.
Why then do I say Jira Cloud is better priced for small teams?
Well, because getting a Jira Server license means you actually have to have a server. This means you need to get your own hardware, which will be at least an extra $800.
You’ll also have to spend either time (of your more technical oriented employees) and/or money (on certified consultants in the form of Atlassian Solution Partners) to setup your Jira. This will probably cost at least $1000, dependant on the size of your team.
And then of course, there’ll be some costs related to maintenance and security.
So if you have a small team of under 10 users, you might choose Jira Cloud over Server in order to save this bit of money. This is not my recommendation, because there’s a lot of other factors to consider which make the costs more than worth it.
For example, there’s certain plugins that only work on Jira Server which will make your life so much easier, and saving time means saving money.
That being said, Jira Cloud might be a better option if your budget is tight.
2. Jira Cloud is Simpler to Use than Jira Server
In terms of ease and speed of the setup, Cloud wins hands down in the Jira Cloud vs Server debate. In Cloud, most everything is set up for you already. Atlassian handles most of the difficult configurations, as well as backups, data retention, etc.
Jira Cloud takes about five minutes to deploy. If you’re setting up Jira Server with custom functions and not just ‘default settings’, it can take a few days to deploy. You’ll also have to be the one to deal with backups.
Cloud is less customizable but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There is such a thing as too many choices when you don’t really know what you’re doing.
How often do you order something completely new at a restaurant? Isn’t it more likely you’ll choose something that’s only serviceable but that you know you can trust? That’s Jira Cloud.
Or you can get the waiter’s recommendation instead. There are Atlassian Solution Partners all over the world, who basically exist to help you setup and maintain your Jira.
You can get the Server license, and then get an Atlassian Solution Partner to set it up for you. Best of all, Solution Partners can set it up in a way that reflects your company’s needs. And as I’ve mentioned before, this service isn’t really expensive comparatively speaking.
That being said, if you don’t believe your company will grow very quickly or that you’ll need further customization, there’s really no need for Jira Server. Jira Cloud is more than serviceable.
Why You Might Choose Jira Server over Cloud
Basically, if you’re not a small team that only needs basic functions, I recommend Jira Server. The reason for this is simple. The pros of Jira Server simply outweigh the pros of Jira Cloud.
What advantages Jira Cloud does have, can easily be gained by Jira Server through the use of Atlassian Solution Partners.
The main appeal of Cloud is that Atlassian handles the setup and maintenance for you. Server is more DIY. If you’re not very technically gifted, Cloud can seem like the way to go.
As I’ve said before, Atlassian has these auxiliary companies called ‘Solution Partners’ who basically exist to set up, customize, and help maintain your Jira. This in itself isn’t a reason to choose Jira Server over Cloud. However, it does more or less neutralize the advantages that Jira Cloud has over Server.
In other words, the actual advantages of Jira Cloud over Server is fairly minimal. However, Jira Server has many advantages over Cloud.
I’ve listed the 5 main reasons for choosing Server over Cloud below.
1. Full Admin Control for Better Customization
In Jira Cloud, the role of ‘Jira Systems Admin’ doesn’t exist. Thus, there’s a lot about your Jira configurations you can’t control. I’ve included a full list of what the restrictions are here, with the biggest ones being: no changing the source code, no installing custom add-ons, and no importing XML workflows.
Every restriction you encounter in Jira Cloud? Non-existent in Jira Server. Want custom fields? Go ahead and design it. Want to tweak the user permissions? No problem. Want to run jelly scripts? Let’s do it.
And what if you want something totally specialized but Atlassian doesn’t offer? Well, you have total access to all of your Jira’s files. This means you can edit or add source code. Or, if you’re not confident enough to do it yourself, you can ask a Solution Partner to do it for you.
2. Speed & Usability
Jira Cloud is hosted in the US, which means its servers are in the US. This means that if your company is in any country other than the US, you’ll experience issues with speed.
Servers ‘serve’ information to and from the hosting area to your computer. The further the server is from your computer, the slower this information will be transmitted. Atlassian is working on this issue, and it’s much better than before, but slowness is still a common complaint which pops up with Jira Cloud. Hopefully this will not be a problem in the future, but as for now, getting your own Jira Server does mean better speed.
3. Scaling Capability
Atlassian Cloud has a user cap at 2000. This includes all your Confluence users, which means it’s not only your tech teams you need to consider, but your company as a whole.
Therefore, if you are a company with over 2000 users, or believe that your company will grow to have over 2000 users, Jira Cloud is not actually even an option. Yes, you can migrate to Jira Server at a later date, but that runs risks of data loss.
There’s also a disk storage limit with Jira Cloud. Again, this limit not only applies to Jira, but also Confluence. You cannot exceed 25GB for up to 500 users, and cannot exceed 100GB for 500+ users. You cannot increase this storage limit by any means.
Needless to say, Jira Server does not have these limitations par course. Your user and storage limitations depend only on how much you’re willing to spend.
4. Better Data Protection
On Jira Cloud, Atlassian handles your security and backups. This is normally fine. However, if you want stricter security or more personal protection, Jira Server is the one to use.
Additionally, legislation from certain countries make it illegal to store some kinds of personal data in the US. This is a problem because Jira Cloud is hosted from the US. Thus, if you’re operating from another country, you have to be very sure of what your privacy laws vs what the US privacy laws are.
This is a non-issue with Jira Server because your information would stay in your country.
5. More Available Add-Ons
There are a lot of important add-ons/plugins which are simply not available on Jira Cloud. These include plugins like Script Runner, PPM tools, and integrated reporting add-ons.
In addition to this, Jira Cloud doesn’t allow for custom plugins. Therefore, if you create a plugin to do something very specific for your company, you can’t integrate it into Jira.
These are not limitations with Jira Server. Jira Server is highly integrated with all Marketplace add-ons. Plus, with the right technical know-how, it shouldn’t be too difficult to create custom plugins either.
So there you have it. This is why I believe Jira Server will almost always serve you better than Jira Cloud.
Jira Server has a whole slew of advantages over Jira Cloud. On the other hand, the advantages for Jira Cloud can easily be substituted.
That being said, if you are a small company who doesn’t foresee huge expansion, and don’t need that much customization, I do recommend Jira Cloud instead.
If you get it wrong, or if Cloud works for you now but you want to move to Server later (or vice versa), that’s okay. It’s not impossible to migrate between the two. They’re both the same product after all. Still, it can be time consuming and it may be costly. As with all migrations, you always run the risk of data loss. This is especially true if you have plugins from Server that’s not compatible with Cloud.
Of course, these are simply our experiences. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!
About the Author
DragonAgile is an Atlassian Solution Partner. Our team of experts have over 10 years of experience in the IT field. While we are located in Canada, we are open to remote work from other countries. If you’re interested in any of the Solution Partner services I mentioned above, you are more than welcome to contact us.