Compare cloud migration methods

descriptionFind guidance on the best approach to move from Jira or Confluence Server or Data Center to Atlassian cloud.

There are a number of methods available to move data from server or Data Center to cloud, and cloud to cloud. The best approach will depend on the needs of your particular migration. Learn about the primary methods, along with the benefits, requirements, and limitations for each.

Because migrations often involve not only moving from server or Data Center to cloud, but some form of cloud to cloud migration or consolidation, we've also included methods for cloud to cloud migration in this guide. 

Before you begin

  1. Review the checklist: Before choosing a method, review the migration planning guide to make sure you haven’t forgotten any important steps.
  2. Understand your destination: Some of the recommendations are dependent on whether there’s data present in your cloud site already. In that case, we use the term existing cloud site. New cloud sites are those that don’t yet have data and aren’t being used in production.
  3. Define what you need in cloud: Before choosing the right migration approach, you should clearly define what you need to migrate. For example, do you need to migrate everything, or just a selection of projects or spaces? Knowing this can help avoid migrating data that isn’t needed in cloud while reducing your time to migrate and risk of errors during the migration.
  4. Understand app migration: None of the methods outlined here will migrate apps or app data. You’ll want to assess which apps you need in cloud before determining how to migrate app data. Note that Atlassian's migration support team do not assist with app data migration.

Done with your prework? Now you’re ready to compare migration methods.

Determine the best method

Some migration methods only apply in certain scenarios, and even when multiple migration methods are technically feasible, there may be non-technical factors that influence which option you select.

You may need to use more than one tool – typically when you need to merge multiple server instances or cloud sites as part of your migration. As you review the considerations for each tool, keep in mind:

  • Products to migrate: Which product(s) will you be migrating?
  • Self-hosted version: What’s your current server or Data Center version? This could determine whether you'll need to upgrade before migrating.
  • Data to migrate: In addition to the core product data (for example, Confluence spaces or Jira projects and issues), do you need to migrate users, attachments, or apps?
  • Destination: Are you moving to a new or existing cloud site? Some methods overwrite any existing data in cloud, so aren't suitable for existing cloud sites. 
  • Consolidation: Do you need to consolidate or merge data in either server or cloud?
  • Data size: How much data do you need to migrate? Generally speaking, the more data and users you have, the more downtime you can expect and the greater the benefit of a method that supports migrating in stages. 
  • Downtime: How much downtime is acceptable?
  • Strategy: Do you want to migrate all at once, or in stages? Because you’re migrating less data at once, staged migrations can be helpful if you want to reduce risk of errors or issues that block your migration, reduce downtime, or provide more hands-on support to users during the first few days after migrating.

Jira migration methods

Depending on what you want to achieve, you may need to use one or more of the following methods during your migration.

Use this decision tree to get a quick answer, then read on for more details to see if the suggested method(s) will work for you. 


Jira Cloud Migration Assistant 

We recently launched the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant. This is a free app, built and maintained by Atlassian, that can be installed on your Jira Server instance. We’re building the migration assistant to be the easiest and most reliable way to move from server to Jira Cloud.

Use this method when:

  • you want to migrate only some projects to cloud

  • you want to migrate to an existing cloud site

  • you want to migrate in phases


Benefits
⚠️ Limitations
  • You can assess your apps in the assistant to prepare for migration
  • Will not overwrite existing data in your cloud site
  • You can choose what projects you want to migrate
  • You can choose to migrate only users and groups
  • Can migrate in stages
  • The app is installed in your server instance, and can help identify issues before you migrate
  • Guides you through the migration with an easy to use interface

Jira Cloud site import

Jira Cloud site import uses a Jira Server or Cloud xml backup to import everything from one site into cloud. This method will overwrite any existing data in your cloud site, so is only recommended when you’re moving to a new cloud site. Learn more.

Use this method when:

✅ Benefits⚠️ Limitations
  • Good for migrations to new cloud sites
  • Jira Service Desk will be migrated
  • Portfolio for Jira will be migrated
  • Can migrate all data at once


  • App data won’t be migrated
  • The migration will overwrite any existing data in your cloud site (except users and groups)
  • Users may need to be imported separately
  • You’ll need to be on a supported self-hosted version
  • You can’t choose what you do and don’t want to migrate (for example, only select projects)
  • Attachments need to be split into 2 - 5 GB chunks to avoid timeout errors
  • Because this method is “all or nothing” large amounts of data can result in longer downtimes

Jira Cloud CSV import

You can import issues from Jira Server or Cloud into a cloud site using CSV importLearn more.

Use this method when:

  • you want to migrate only some projects to cloud
  • you want to migrate from server to an existing cloud site
  • you want to migrate in phases
  • you need to merge multiple Jira Cloud sites
Benefits⚠️ Limitations
  • Will not overwrite existing data in your cloud site
  • You can choose which issues you want to migrate
  • Does not require knowledge of how to install and set up a server application
  • Can migrate in stages
  • Jira Service Desk can be migrated

While the simplest approach, this also migrates the least amount of data. Limitations include:

  • App data won’t be migrated
  • Users will not be imported (view options)
  • Only imports issues, not entire projects – you’ll need to recreate and set these up in cloud before importing the CSV
  • Issue History will not be retained – for example, timestamp of issue transitioned or issue updated. Agile reports in Jira Software will no longer have the issue history data needed to correctly present charts such as burndowns, cycle times.
  • Issue rank will not be retained, so any manual ranking of Jira Software boards will be lost
  • You can only export 1,000 issues per spreadsheet by default (view workarounds)
  • You'll need to follow additional steps to import attachmentsSprints, and Versions
  • Links to Confluence pages under the "Mentioned On" section in Jira issues will not be imported
  • Requires that global and project-level configuration is the same between the source and destination

Merge in Jira server

If you need to either consolidate server instances or merge with an existing Jira Cloud site, merging sites in Jira server may be a prerequisite step to your migration to cloud. However, you may be able to skip this step depending on which migration method you choose – for example, if you’re importing issues via CSV or using the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, you don’t need to consolidate server instances before importing the issues to cloud. Learn more.

Use this method when:

  • you need to merge multiple Jira Cloud sites
  • you need to merge multiple Jira Server sites
  • you want to import only specific projects from one cloud site to another
Benefits⚠️ Limitations
  • Can migrate in stages
  • Jira Service Desk can be migrated
  • Apps and app data won’t be migrated. This means you'll need to reinstall, and will lose data from apps that were installed in the source cloud site
  • Users will not be migrated (view options)
  • Requires knowledge of how to install and set up a server application
  • Merging sites usually takes quite some time to complete, especially for large sites


Confluence migration methods

Depending on what you want to achieve, you may need to use one or more of the following methods during your migration.

Use this decision tree to get a quick answer, then read on for more details to see if the suggested method will work for you. 

Flow diagram showing when to use each migration method to move to Confluence Cloud.


Confluence Cloud Migration Assistant

The Confluence Cloud Migration Assistant is a free app, built and maintained by Atlassian, that can be installed on your Confluence Server or Data Center instance. The migration assistant is the easiest and most reliable way to move from server to Confluence Cloud. Learn more.

Use this method when:

  • you want to migrate from server or Data Center to a new or existing cloud site

Benefits⚠️ Limitations
  • You can assess your apps in the assistant to prepare for migration
  • You can choose what spaces you want to migrate
  • You can choose to migrate only users and groups
  • The app is embedded in your server instance and can help identify issues before you migrate
  • Guides you through the migration with an easy to use interface
  • Includes app assessment capabilities
  • Can migrate in stages
  • Supported for Confluence Server version 5.10 or above
  • Provides reports of the migration


Confluence Cloud site import

Confluence Cloud site import allows you to import an entire site into another Confluence Cloud site. Learn more.

Use this method when:

  • you want to move from one Confluence Cloud site to a new cloud site

Benefits⚠️ Limitations
  • Can migrate everything at once
  • App data won’t be migrated
  • Not available for cloud sites that also have Jira installed (in this case, use Confluence Cloud space import)
  • The migration will overwrite any existing Confluence data in your cloud site
  • Because this method is “all or nothing,” migrating large amounts of data or users can result in longer downtimes
  • Site import will fail for backup files greater than 200 MB (view workarounds or contact support to increase the limit)


Confluence Cloud space import

Generate individual XML exports of each space, and import them into the destination cloud site. This process will add those spaces on top of the existing spaces, without overwriting any data. Learn more.

Use this method when:

  • You want to merge multiple Confluence Cloud sites
  • In edge cases where the Confluence Cloud Migration Assistant can’t be used, our support team may recommend this method to move from server or Data Center to cloud
Benefits
⚠️ Limitations
  • Allows you to merge with an existing Confluence Cloud site without overwriting data
  • Can migrate in stages
  • Available on sites that have Jira installed
  • App data won’t be migrated
  • Users won’t be migrated
  • If importing from server or Data Center, must be on version 6.14 or later


Choosing your approach

Each migration method has advantages and disadvantages. Bear in mind that you can minimize any negative impacts by conducting a pre-assessment of your source and destination site and choosing the ideal migration type for your needs. For more guidance, check out our Jira and Confluence migration planning guides.

When to consider using a Partner

Pending your team’s level of expertise, your migration complexity, and timeline, Atlassian Solution Partners are trained to help customers move to cloud successfully and with minimal disruption. 

We recommend working with a partner if you have a more complex migration, or need assistance executing on the guidance our support team provides.

Your migration might qualify if you:

  • have limited internal resources to help with this project

  • need help with things outside of the scope of Atlassian support, including User Acceptance Testing, server upgrades, or user training

  • need help with migration project management, planning, and execution

  • have a complex merging scenario

  • need to migrate five or more business-critical apps

  • have specific security and compliance needs

  • need to migrate over 1,000 users

To find a partner to help with your migration, just get in touch.


More information and support

We have a number of channels available to help you with your migration.

Last modified on Jun 22, 2020

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