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How Atlassian’s Data Center helps The Hong Kong Jockey Club simplify risk and improve performance
The HKJC Charitable Trust was Hong Kong's largest charitable benefactor in 2018-19, employing 24,000 people in the region. After using on-prem Atlassian server products for several years, an upgrade to Atlassian’s self-managed enterprise offering, Data Center, became vital to their scaling efforts.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), the fourth largest non-profit in the world, has its roots firmly planted in China’s “fragrant harbor” – the translation of the metropolitan area from Cantonese. Founded in 1884, the HKJC holds a government-granted license on horse racing, lottery, and fixed-odds betting. All profits are fed back into the community via donations to charity and contributions to tax.
The HKJC Charitable Trust was the fourth largest charity globally and Hong Kong's largest charitable benefactor in 2018-19, donating a total of HK$4.3 billion (USD$550M), benefiting 294 charity and community projects. On top of that, the non-profit employs 24,000 people in the region – their IT team of 1,000 employees, based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, is the fourth largest in Hong Kong. After using Atlassian server products (which they hosted on-prem) for several years – with Jira and Confluence integrated into the engineering department – the HKJC decided to shift their focus to CI/CD and building pipelines for application deployment. As they scaled the process they began to experience pain points and limitations with Atlassian’s server products.
Ultimately, the HKJC’s leadership team saw a need to standardize the way teams were working across the organization. Rolling out Jira to all 1,000 IT employees demanded flexibility and scalability. To attain the speed, performance and availability needed, an upgrade to Atlassian’s self-managed enterprise offering, Data Center, was vital.
The migration would allow them to scale their Atlassian products effortlessly, adding more users and teams without having to worry about negative impacts on performance. In addition, it would give them integrated CI/CD – a seamless way to connect Bitbucket to the leading CI/CD solutions – resulting in a streamlined, easy-to-use workflow with feedback at every stage of the development cycle. After a year of planning and strategizing, they launched an ambitious program of change, modernization, and digital transformation – starting with new technology leadership.
We needed a mechanism to display organizational priorities to other executives within the business, to give them the confidence that the underlying infrastructure is stable. Atlassian is helping us do that.”
Paving the way forward with Data Center
The HKJC hired Neil Whiteing as IT Director to implement the transformation strategy and drive change in the IT department. “I needed to think about things like high availability, resilience, and scalability, which we were unable to attain on Atlassian’s server offering,” says Neil. His team had experienced difficulties retrieving data and more downtime with lower availability, and performance suffered while the organization scaled their use of Atlassian’s server products. With a solid migration strategy in place as part of the digital transformation program, Neil’s team was eager to make the move, full steam ahead, to Data Center.
The migration included migrating 1,000 Jira and Confluence users and replacing the HKJC’s Hewlett-Packard Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) with a combination of Jira and BigPicture for budget and progress reporting. Post-migration, Neil says the benefits of Jira’s powerful features supported by Data Center exceeded expectations, with high availability, uninterrupted access to critical applications, and performance at scale through increased user capacity and improved response time.
“Features like advanced auditing and enterprise user management make managing security a whole lot easier in Data Center,” says Neil. His team enjoys working with Atlassian because the suite is built to be open and accessible from day one. “We’re very happy with what Data Center has brought us because it has simplified the risk and improved the performance of our environment,” Neil says.
For me, it’s all about the information flow, not about the technology. And so the ability to integrate data flows and create a more connected view of what’s going on is super important.”
Jira becomes mission-critical
Jira helps to automate mundane daily tasks for Neil and his team, from the “idea” phase to code execution. The migration to Data Center was also a crucial component in the “Jira Everywhere” initiative’s success, both for the IT team and the wider organization. “We needed a mechanism to display organizational priorities to other executives within the business, to give them the confidence that the underlying infrastructure is stable, and that the organization can support this kind of adaptability when moving to new systems and software. Atlassian is helping us do that,” Neil says.
Changes to the engineering team’s planning and review process are also helping the organization to stay focused. Instead of annual reviews, HKJC now uses a quarterly review and planning process, which Neil says makes it easier to show progress to executives, and amend priorities where needed. “For me, it’s all about the information flow, not about the technology, so the ability to integrate data flows and create a more connected view of what’s going on is super important to me.”
A bonus of the Jira Everywhere project is the way many employees are also embracing Confluence in their daily work. They use the tool to collect thoughts, plans, and knowledge across the organization, while issues are tracked in Jira. The two tools work together, complementing each other to get tasks done. For Neil, the small wins matter, such as employees proactively requesting access to Jira or Confluence. “The fact they’ve asked shows a level of curiosity. That’s where you start. If you can get people curious enough that they want to log on, that’s one part of the mission accomplished,” he says. “We’re all committed to transforming our way of working, but it’s a gradual change.”
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