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Hi Marcin, can you tell us a little about yourself?
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I’m a development lead on the Crowd team located in the Gdańsk office. My entire professional career, almost 10 years now, has been focused on developing mission critical enterprise products – servicing industries ranging from aviation to financial services. I made my way to Atlassian two and a half years ago. I began my time at Atlassian as a development lead focused on the JIRA release pipeline. Last year, I joined the Crowd team as a development lead and have loved every minute of the role.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading a good thriller book like Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy, or watching classic thriller films or documentaries.
Many readers will be familiar with Crowd as an identity management tool. But can you tell us a little more about Crowd, like the upcoming Crowd Data Center release?
Many of you may be surprised but Crowd is one of Atlassian’s oldest products. It was first released as a part of the Atlassian suite in January 2007 and ever since has been providing customers with identity management for the entire Atlassian suite of self-hosted products.
First and foremost, Crowd centralizes user and identity management allowing you to manage users and control application permissions from multiple directories such as Active Directory, LDAP, and Crowd via a single admin console. You have the flexibility to manage users and group memberships without having to do so in your LDAP directory and you can add an extra layer of group memberships on top of the groups that come from your remote directories to further define authorization permissions. Crowd simplifies user management and improves the onboarding process of team members because you don’t have to reach out to your IT department or the department responsible for user directory management within your company for assistance.
Crowd often serves a mission critical role for many Atlassian customers because it serves as a single source of truth for users and groups, handling a wide stream of authentication requests. Because of this, we recently invested in the development of Crowd Data Center to provide our customers with high availability to ensure that unplanned downtime won’t impact the productivity and performance of your teams.
Looking back at the past 6 months, what’s the most exciting Crowd Server release for you and your team?
Last year was very busy and exciting for the Crowd team. We focused on many aspects of Crowd and delivered several significant features and enhancements to our customers, such as audit logging and other performance improvements. I’ll explain by release below.
This was one of the first versions that brought massive performance improvements in Crowd’s group membership calculations. We were able to decrease the time required to synchronize all users and their associated groups to applications connected to Crowd.
Performance improvements were not the only changes we made in 2.10. We also enhanced our LDAP configuration UI – making it more user-friendly and responsive. For example, we improved how administrators can provide and change passwords for remote directories. While small in scope, we believe that such tiny improvements, make a great product.
With this version, we provided even more performance improvements. We improved user synchronization from LDAP to Crowd making Crowd 2.11 almost 3 time faster than Crowd 2.9.1 in that area. Pulling 10,000 users from an LDAP directory now takes about one minute instead of three.
Again this was not the only change we introduced. We also improved how the number of users is counted for licensing so that duplicated usernames no longer consume more than one license. Always focused on providing our users better support, we provided was a Support Tools Plugin to provide admins with improved support similar to the other Atlassian Server products.
In this version of Crowd, we focused on providing new features, specifically for administrators. We decided to empower administrators with audit log functionality, giving them more control and visibility over configuration changes. We understand that there are also other types of operations that could be stored in the audit log, like changes in group memberships, and we are considering this improvement to be a part of one of our future releases.
Reliability was another focus of 2.12. In Crowd, you can define a list of remote directories that Crowd can use to authenticate a user. In Crowd 2.12, we improved this feature with a directory failover mechanism. When the authentication can’t proceed because a user directory is unavailable, Crowd will simply authenticate against the next directory from the list.
Crowd Data Center
At Atlassian Summit Europe 2017 we made an announcement that Crowd is soon going to be a part of Atlassian Data Center product family. Crowd Data Center brings reliability to another level by providing high availability to Crowd. This ensures that users have uninterrupted access to Crowd and other systems connected to it.
From the team’s perspective this is probably one of the most most exciting and challenging projects we have recently been working on – requiring a lot of work from our team in a variety of areas ranging from defining project scope, conducting customer interviews, and assisting with implementation, to validating customer experience during the beta program.
We know that our passion and dedication to this project will translate to many happy Crowd customers.
What’s in the works?
The past six months have been exciting and fruitful for us but we are really looking forward to the future. We are always looking for ways to deliver more value to our customers, however, our primary focus will be to continue to provide critical Identity Management functionality to our customers and enhance Crowd Data Center.
We believe that the future is bright both for Crowd and Crowd customers. We will continue to look to our customers for constant feedback so that we can continue to provide them the best experience.