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30 days to increased innovation and employee happiness: Lucid’s cloud migration story
Lucid Software, the leading provider of visual collaboration software, believes customer happiness is built on employee happiness, so they invest heavily in internal improvements in addition to external. Their migration to Atlassian Cloud helps achieve both goals. In just 30 days, Lucid and Solution Partner Oxalis smoothly transitioned the company’s on-premise deployment of Atlassian tools to the cloud, solidifying Lucid’s position as a SaaS leader while increasing time savings, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Read on to learn more about their journey and biggest lessons learned.
As modern professionals, we hear over and over that the customer is king, and that organizations’ focus should be on making their lives better. While the team behind Lucid Software, the leading provider of visual collaboration software, agrees with this mantra wholeheartedly, their approach to achieving it is a bit out of the box: They believe customer happiness is built on employee happiness, so they invest heavily in internal improvements in addition to external. Lucid’s migration to Atlassian Cloud was a win on both fronts.
The team had used on-premise deployments of Jira Software and Confluence in their daily work for years, and regularly assessed whether – and when – they should move to the cloud. In 2021, all signs indicated the time was right. To solidify themselves as SaaS leaders, use their product on the cloud (the same way their customers do), and deliver the fast, secure experience employees were craving, Lucid engaged Solution Partner Oxalis to migrate in record time.
Within 30 days, Lucid and Oxalis completed what would normally be a three- to six-month migration. In close collaboration, the partners made strategic tradeoffs to move quickly, transforming the company’s Atlassian products into a high-performing, scalable cloud system that supercharged Lucid’s efficiency and effectiveness. Today, employees are saving time and worrying less, which fosters a happier work environment and, in turn, happier customers.
Along the way, Lucid achieved big wins and learned important lessons. Here’s how they navigated the transition to Atlassian Cloud, along with their top tips for small and mid-size businesses embarking on their own migration journey.
Seeing and building the future for their customers and company
Lucid’s Visual Collaboration Suite (which includes products Lucidchart, Lucidspark, and Lucidscale) caters to modern ways of working and collaborating. Instead of relying on an endless flow of text to get a point across, colleagues can work in a shared canvas from anywhere in the world to visualize just about anything. Think executives gathering on a virtual whiteboard to brainstorm a new strategic plan, or a DevOps team collaborating on the visual design for a new cloud architecture.
When Lucid was founded in 2010, cloud technology was still in its infancy. Their small team relied on Google Docs for knowledge sharing and Mantis for ticketing, but as the company grew, VP of Infrastructure and IT David Torgerson says those tools “quickly fell over.” “It was impossible to find anything,” he recalls. “Once we had grown beyond a handful of people, we needed a more consistent way to store information. That's where Jira and Confluence came in.”
David’s team implemented on-premise deployments of Jira Software and Confluence – Atlassian’s most popular deployment method at the time – which the entire company quickly adopted. Jira Software became their go-to tool for prioritizing and completing epics, stories, and development tasks. They turned to Confluence for documentation and roadmapping, runbooks, call logs, reporting, and more.
While many businesses “set it and forget it” when they add new technology solutions, Lucid’s mission is to help their customers see and build the future – and they take the same approach with their own company. Using Atlassian on premise met their needs at the time, but they were always looking ahead and exploring ways to optimize their environment.
The value that our company provides is by making features, making our product more stable, and innovating. Any amount of time that we spend maintaining internal tools is an opportunity cost lost.”
VP of Infrastructure and IT
A “perfect storm” precipitates a quick move to cloud
Over time, cloud technology grew stronger and became the industry standard, while server-based tools got more expensive and difficult to maintain. Plug-ins were complicated to manage, ongoing updates had to be manually implemented, and capacity was dwindling as Lucid grew.
In 2019, the company upgraded to Atlassian Data Center to offload some of the operational headaches of maintaining on-premise tools and take advantage of a more modern experience. They knew even then that migrating to the cloud was their eventual goal – it was just a matter of timing.
“We wanted to position ourselves as a leader in the industry. You don’t see leaders in the SaaS industry using on-premise solutions,” David says. “The value that our company provides is by making features, making our product more stable, and innovating. Any amount of time that we spend maintaining internal tools is an opportunity cost lost.”
In addition to following industry best practices and offloading maintenance, Lucid also wanted to migrate so they could use their own cloud-based products and their Atlassian Cloud-exclusive apps in the same way their customers do (an invaluable step for encouraging empathy and innovation), while improving security and providing remote access for employees.
As Lucid weighed the costs and benefits of cloud migration each year, the scales tipped in favor of a transition in 2020. The decision was easy thanks to all the analysis they had done over the years. David says it was “finally a perfect storm” of having the right reasons and the right people, all aligned at the right time.
Lucid asked Solution Partner Oxalis for help because they wanted to better understand the nuances of cloud and have an experienced team who could quickly guide them on how to organize data, structure permissions for security, and solve complex problems.
David’s team appreciated that Oxalis had deep expertise in Atlassian Cloud migrations, but was also willing to admit when they needed to do more research or thinking. “We knew we had a gap. When we kicked off this process on our own, it wasn't clear whether challenges we faced were known issues, expected changes, or gaps in our own understanding. The Oxalis team was quick to call out when problems were common or completely new,” David says. “We trusted them as experts, so we were able to come together, filter out the noise, and collaborate on solving the truly hard problems.”
Lucid’s executive team was fully on board with migrating, and true to their innovative spirit, they challenged Engineering to push themselves even further. “Our CEO has always created a sense of urgency – not from an unrealistic standpoint, but just making sure that people are always hungry and fighting to stay on top. So he said, ‘What would it take to get this migration done in two weeks?’”
Oxalis was up for a challenge but told the team a migration like this would normally take about six months. After discussing tradeoffs, they agreed on an aggressive yet doable timeline: 30 days. It would be difficult, but with close collaboration and strategic compromises, both teams felt confident they could hit the mark.
Jake Sullivan, Managing Consultant with Oxalis, says one of Lucid’s “superpowers” was getting aligned around a shared vision and building trust to gain consensus and accelerate the process. David adds, “Casting our vision internally helped build internal excitement. We wanted to convey what the migration means to the end employee, not just say, ‘Now you're using cloud.’”
Our goal was to make employees’ lives as easy as possible and lead with the things they would find most valuable – things they could look forward to. Making that real for every employee and conveying the value that they would get from it helped outweigh the pain and went a long way to building that internal excitement.”
VP of Infrastructure and IT
Concentrate, validate, communicate: Lucid’s three keys to migrating in one month
With a well-defined vision of being able to practice what they preach (working on the cloud) and an aggressive timeline to achieve it (30 days), Lucid and Oxalis started preparing for the migration by focusing on moving only the most necessary and valuable assets. “We decided as a company that getting to the cloud was more important than making sure we had 100% parity with what we had on premise. That made a big difference,” David recalls. “Our internal philosophy is that if we’re no longer getting value from it, we're not going to continue to invest resources and maintain it.”
This philosophy had informed Lucid’s plugin governance over time. They had already identified which plugins were no longer heavily used or would be too difficult to move, which helped Oxalis and Lucid as they planned the cloud migration. Rather than having to do extensive mapping of old functionality to new, the team pinpointed what they wanted and needed to move, then retired the rest.
Atlassian’s updated Jira Cloud Migration Assistant tool also came in handy by making user mapping more intuitive, providing more advanced support for custom field types, and enabling migration of cross-project boards. Saving time on these tasks meant Lucid could focus more on testing, which was important not only for avoiding problems, but also for gaining buy-in and managing organizational change. They enlisted about 20 testers from across the organization, so Engineering could see how the cloud environment worked for various use cases.
"Oxalis has found that a cadence of migration dry runs paired with UAT helps socialize people to the differences between Atlassian’s on-prem and cloud deployments” Jake says. “We were able to take the best resources from Atlassian and Lucid's internal documentation to really clearly communicate what to expect ahead of time, giving employees confidence they had a plan to ensure a stable experience."
Recruiting testers from across the organization and including both cloud supporters and skeptics in the process helped Lucid identify more gaps in the tools, win them over, and develop champions and liaisons for their departments. David says, “It was really important that we included all types of users in our testing. For example, we engaged our daily users, who are the experts, as well as the SRE team, who are lighter users and not as familiar. Having a wide range of testers helped convey excitement, and the less frequent users and skeptics were great at pointing out technical deficiencies.”
These intentional investments in testing and communication paid off as Lucid completed several dry runs and flipped the switch on their move to cloud just a few weeks later. The migration was completed within a weekend and was mercifully uneventful. “Because we had gone through so many dry runs and UAT testing on multiple instances, there was only one issue on the day of migration. We were able to fix it immediately,” David says.
The change was so smooth that it barely registered with employees. “When people came back on Monday, they mostly didn’t notice a change, which is what we wanted. They just knew they could access the system from their phone,” David says. People who had expressed concern over losing data or experiencing interruptions in their work were pleasantly surprised. Hours and weeks later, it was as if they had been working on Atlassian Cloud all along. “When I first heard we were moving to Atlassian Cloud, I was worried how it would impact my existing data and workflow. Now I can’t even remember a time before we were on cloud,” says Emma Reece, Senior Quality Assurance Specialist.
Employees are also enjoying the improved experience and helpful features of Atlassian Cloud. "The Jira Software interface is better, and the experience is smoother,” explains Product Manager Chance Ramey. “Advanced Roadmaps are a game-changer too. As priorities change, we can update our plans on the fly and better track if we're ready for releases."
People are creatures of habit, so changes – no matter how big or small – are often met with resistance. To gain buy-in, overcome objections, and generate excitement, Lucid was honest about the changes employees could expect after the migration and heavily promoted the benefits of the transition. “We had to deliver some challenging messages. Our goal was to make employees’ lives as easy as possible and lead with the things they would find most valuable – things they could look forward to,” David says. “Making that real for every employee and conveying the value that they would get from it helped outweigh the pain and went a long way to building that internal excitement.”
SREs are our most tapped team. They save 25% of their time in a given week by being on Atlassian Cloud now."
VP of Infrastructure and IT
Major time savings, plus priceless employee satisfaction
Just 30 days after making the decision to migrate, Lucid was working seamlessly on Atlassian Cloud and enjoying the speed, security, and stress-free experience they’d been looking forward to for years. “We've been able to stop caring about the database maintenance, the server maintenance and configuration, automating the configuration of Data Center, and differences in environments. We know Atlassian is going to patch vulnerabilities that come up. There are fewer things for the SRE team to be aware of and worry about. They're able to manage our production environment consistently, which alleviates stress, the amount of testing that they have to do, and more,” David says.
His team has also saved significant time on fixes, scaling, and interruptions, many of which required effort but didn’t add much value. “SREs are our most tapped team. They save 25% of their time in a given week by being on Atlassian Cloud now,” he says. “At least twice a month, one of our ten team members would have to stop what they were doing and spend five minutes to a few hours fixing something. Then, there were the updates and revisions. Scaling was difficult to adjust for too. All of these tasks independently only took a couple minutes, but it added up, didn’t create much value, and often interrupted us during meetings or on the weekends. Now, all of these activities have gone away,” David explains.
With fewer interruptions and tedious tasks, along with easier ways of working and collaborating, Lucid’s employees finally get to experience the same joys their customers do. As they continue charging forward, the team looks forward to having Atlassian Cloud at their fingertips and Oxalis by their side to support employee happiness, power their productivity, and help customers build their future.