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Replacing Jira on-premises for QA testing purposes

Jira is probably one of the most popular proprietary issue tracking systems. However, the news that Jira decided to withdraw their on-premise product from the market, and discontinue product maintenance by 2024, has caused many businesses to look for different options with the same range of QA testing services on-premise functionality.

Atlassian is determined to transfer all of its customers to the Cloud in the near future. But if you are still considering migration from Atlassian server product to Data Center, you might also want to consider the following aspects:

  • The cost of the Data Center is much higher than the server product.
  • Maintenance of the Data Center requires more effort – there are nodes behind a load balancer, not a single server instance.
  • Atlassian will turn off new important functionalities as Jira’s Next-Gen Projects.
  • Now minimum user tier for Data Center is 500 users (when for the Cloud version it is only 1-10 users), which is not cost-effective because of the number of plugins we will need to use for this.

This is why switching to a different software could be a more beneficial and cost-saving decision for QA teams. For some organizations, it might turn out to be advantageous.

What made Jira essential for QA testers?

Jira became a legend among agile QA testers because agile teams found its features perfect for work. Atlassian created Jira as a bug tracking and agile project management tool based on three essential concepts that also met QA testers’ needs – issue tracking, project progress, and workflow. Also, Jira allowed QA professionals to use the following attributes – summary, priority, due date, components, affected versions, fixed versions, and assignees, which made this software outstanding among other competitors.

Before writing this article, we decided to find out why users love Jira so much and compare whether aqua ALM meets the same needs. Let’s see ​​if aqua ALM can compete with Jira.

We questioned the opinion of six QA testers from QAwerk software testing agency on what they enjoy in Jira.

1. Alexandra Bondarenko, QA engineer:
“I appreciate Jira for the clear interface, easy management and switching between different projects and boards, very convenient searching. Also, in my opinion, one more advantage is that Jira is very flexible and user able to customize a lot of things.“

aqua ALM also provides the possibility of better customization. It supports individual test planning, management, and automation with customized features.

**2. Aliaksei Kalennikau, QA Automation Engineer:
“A large number of settings and additional plugins allow you to customize Jira as you need it for your specific needs. Moreover, plugins such as Zephyr allow you to use this tool for bug tracking and test management. One more important pro is that Jira can be easily integrated with the most popular Code Management Tools and team messengers, which makes QA and all teams aware of the recent events and current statuses of the tasks.“

QA testers love aqua ALM because it has bug tracking and test management by default. This saves your time on looking for plugins. aqua ALM also has several “built-in” existing integrations with external systems. Even if your system is not on the list you can hop on and connect it with the open REST API provided by aqua ALM. Another advantage of aqua ALM is a discussion thread feature that correlates with each item. This allows users the chance to collaborate and talk about potential updated features in this area.

3. Anonymously by a QAwerk Cyber Security Specialist:
“It’s mature and proven. It’s extremely customizable. Extensibility, including time tracking JIRA tool.”

aqua ALM tracks every change, and their effects, which makes the process 86% more efficient. How does aqua ALM do it? aqua ALM uses “burning points” instead of a regular time tracking system. Use these points as a requirement. For example, you planned 8 points where one point is an hour and users can “burn” them to accomplish their goal and finish a task.

4.Polina Honcharko, QA Engineer:
“Jira provides linking, so you can check what issues are caused by or relate to yours; by that, you can get more details for investigation or generally what was developed/tested for certain projects. With the “Projects” tab, you can always check the board of your project and see what tickets are currently in progress or have “Done” status, etc. As there is an option to log time in tickets, each one of your team can check how long it takes to investigate.“

Every step and change in aqua ALM is documented in each item’s history. Additionally, you can configure a workflow for the process, and this will ensure that the defined steps will be completed. aqua ALM provides its users with integration to OTRS and also to other ticket systems over the REST API. You can create dependencies between different items and see how items are correlated.

5.Anna Lukashenko, QA Engineer:
“For five years of work as a QA engineer, I had experience in building processes “with” and “without” Jira. And this experience made me definitely a fan of Jira. The main advantage of Jira is the visibility of the team’s employment as a whole, which allows you to plan the workload for the day and draw up an approximate work plan for the next day to provide updates to the manager. Planning is especially important when there are several projects at the same time. Also, important reasons why I chose Jira are ease of use, user-friendly interface, logging of the time after completing each task, which allows you to control the time spent on performing every task.”

aqua ALM is a master of structured, clear, and audit-proof test cases. Use UML diagrams for better management and execution of tests. Based on your requirements aqua ALM can automatically generate test cases. With aqua ALM you can start manual or automated test runs that combine multiple test tools and manage all results centrally.

6. Valentin Havryliuk, QA Engineer:
“The essential advantage of Jira is an ability to provide concise and structured management tools for agile workflow such as planning, reporting, assigning and tracking.”

With aqua ALM you can also create workflows and dependencies that are tied to your specific role and track the progress and status of your assignments. aqua ALM can also visualize the most complex connections in your data with very detailed reporting.

Will anything be better than Jira, and why?

Despite all the advantages of Jira and being in favor of many QA testers, there are still some significant details we wish Jira had. Let’s start from the part where we understand that Jira’s software is not perfect. Here are some features that Jira on-premises misses, and you are most likely to profit from having them in your QA testing processes.

Weak customization and bitter interface

Have you ever heard this joke, “if I were Dumbledore, I would’ve hidden the philosopher’s stone in Jira’s UI”? Jira may be way more complicated than it should be for QA teams with fast-changing environments. If you have ever dealt with the Jira dashboard, you probably know how overwhelming it can be to customize it for better issues and task tracking needs. Extra work and time on perfect customization can also cause you to waste money and, as a result, more expenses for the QA team.

No Gantt charts

A Gantt chart is significant for your team workflow, which can also be an excellent timeline viewing tool throughout the entire QA testing process. But unfortunately for Jira, this tool is not included in the core version of Jira. Instead, you can find several add-ons providing this functionality for additional costs, available in the Atlassian Marketplace. Pricing for a reliable add-on like “Ganttpro” is about $8.90 per user and $15 if you are an individual. You will need to search and analyze many different add-ons, which can be very challenging, and still might result in wasted money.

No collaboration tools

Jira was created for project management and QA testing needs, but it still lacks collaboration tools. You may face some difficulties while working on a project as discussing current tasks and the entire workflow with coworkers. It is not a big problem when there are 3-5 test cases, but imagine if there are 150 of them and no way to see the logs of other testers under these cases. So eventually, you will need another add-on from the marketplace to communicate with other QA team members.

What happens to Jira, and why do I need to look for different products?

Atlassian scheduled the changes of its products that will be made with a few steps.

  • The first step already took place on February 2, 2021, which brought us to the fact that we cannot buy extra Server products now. Additionally, the price of installations for the Server and Data Center went up almost 15% from the previous quote.

  • A year later, only critical bug fixes will be delivered with Server releases, and upgrades or downgrades will be restricted. However, Server customers will still be able to purchase new app licenses until February 2023 and get maintenance until February 2024.

  • The most depressing part of these changes is scheduled for February 2, 2024 – the support will stop serving, and releasing bug fixes. Even though Atlassian, including the end-of-life days, will run on-premise Jira toolsets, those changes can cause security threats for businesses and other security-related issues.

Jira’s on-premise toolset will offer Cloud migration to all its customers whether Atlassian offers a Data Center service that can be deployed on-premise. Unfortunately, cloud versions do not suit such industries as finances, security, banking, government, etc. This means that all these companies have to find tools that are compatible with their current software. If you happen to work for one of such companies that can’t move to the Cloud, you should consider using other services and products.

Another obstacle that we can possibly overcome on the way to our dream product, is overpricing. The companies with almost the same range of tools, on-premises versions, and similar user rates, also have a massive price gap. Here are three companies that provide all the features that Jira misses, and their rating is pretty high among users and experienced QA testers.

aqua ALM has all the features that Jira misses. There is exact and well-detailed reporting, a comprehensive list of integration with different softwares, collaboration features, and many other distinguishing options for QA teams including:

  • Administrator Level Control
  • Change Management
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Defect Tracking
  • Iteration Management
  • Prioritization
  • Project Management
  • Release Management
  • Reporting/Analytics
  • Requirements Review
  • Stakeholder Defined Attributes
  • Status Tracking
  • Task Management
  • Test Case Tracking
  • User Level Management
  • Gantt charts

The pricing is represented with three different plans of €29, €69 and €99 per month in a Cloud version, and €690, €1390, and €1990 in an on-premise version.

aqua’s rating is 4.7 based on Capterra. Here’s what people are saying about it:

“We looked for a test management tool without excessive infrastructure set up but with all features which are needed for every day’s testing. Crowd testing is also an option since aqua ALM can be made accessible for externals as well. Selenium integration is also possible within the web client, windows must be underlaying for this, because PowerShell scripts control the interface to it.” by Roland B.

Xqual is already well-known among QA testers, but it seems, based on their website overview, they don’t provide any collaboration features. They have integrations with third-party softwares, and they are available in an on-premise version. However, not all users are satisfied with its organizing systems, and this software is not affordable for mid-size companies. Here are some of the main features of Xqual:

  • Administrator Level Control
  • Project Management
  • Task Management
  • User Level Management
  • Version Control

It is also represented with prices from $200/yr per user to $400\yr per user. The annual on-premise version will cost you $400/user/year and up to $12.5K/year per 100 users. Or you can also choose the plan “Universal” for $17K.

Xqual is not rated by users on Capterra. Though, we found a couple of features that users dislike on another reviews website G2:

“…There were some good features of IBM Rational test manager and the way we organized our tests that we got too used to. It took a slight tuning for Xstudio to fit into our specific scenario. While not bad at all, XStudio can continue to try to adapt to a very lightweight easy to use and change method of organizing test cases in folders, and associating them with builds or sprints. The specifications of what is optimal are difficult to gather as every team has its own needs. So coming up with a solution that can fit all is extremely difficult but still because you asked for what can be improved I am telling this” by Anonymous.

“ There were some acceptable highlights of IBM Rational test director and the manner in which we composed our tests that we got excessively used to. It took a slight tuning for X studio to fit into our particular situation. While not awful by any means, X Studio can keep on attempting to adjust to an exceptionally light weight simple to utilize and change strategy for sorting out experiments in organizers, and partner them with constructs or runs. The details of what is ideal are troublesome o assemble as each group has its own needs. So thinking of an answer that can fit everything is incredibly troublesome yet at the same time since you requested what can be improved I am telling this” by Rebecca’sée M.

“Graphics on program are a little old school compared to other programs we’ve used.” by Anonymous.

TestRail is considered one of the most popular QA testing softwares. Even though some users prefer to switch from TestRail to other softwares, as soon as they find something more efficient, it is a very comprehensive software with collaboration features and a controlling permission system. But they still lack such significant QA tester features as built-in requirements and a bug tracker. As it claims, their main features are:

  • Access Controls/Permissions
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Historical Reporting
  • Move & Copy
  • Parameterized Testing
  • Reporting/Analytics
  • Requirements-Based Testing
  • Software Development

The pricing is represented on their website with two numbers – $36/mo per user of Cloud version and $370/year per user on-premise, and TestRail’s rating, according to Capterra reviews, is 4.4:

“We believe that TestRail is basic like any other test case management system, features are fairly generic, workflows are fairly dated. However, UI is good, probably due to the app being basic. We use it because teams have already comfortable with it, but by no means is this a tool that can solve new development methodologies such as continuous integration test management. If you understand the tools limitations, then it may work for you, but we find it to be lacking and at this stage have stopped integrating our CI test runs into the tool.” by Tony W.

Some of them don’t provide a broad spectrum of essential tools such as collaboration features or detailed reporting. Just remember that the cheapest ones don’t usually meet the user’s basic requirements.

Switching from Jira on-premises is pretty easy today. Most companies can ensure that there is no risk of data loss while moving your data from other projects. This is because Jira can be easily integrated with other software solutions including the companies we mentioned above, and therefore migration will be smooth.

So what steps do we need to take in order to make it happen and profit from replacing Jira?

  • Explore which Atlassian changes will be significant and what they mean for your team.
  • Determine if the Data Center service is suitable for your business or not. Identify if there is an actual need to switch to other on-premise products. Go through your QA team’s requirements to determine a product to switch to.
  • Explore the equivalencies and advantages of several softwares (for example, aqua ALM to Jira – price VS extra features).
  • Discuss with your team all possible migration paths to other products.

Replacing Jira with other QA testing software solutions can take quite a long period of time, especially if it is an on-premise version. We all know what to expect from Atlassian in the future. At least we have almost two and half years to get ready for saying Bye-bye to old Jira. Switching to a new solution is hard, but the good thing about this is that it can significantly improve the quality of your QA testing, and it will allow teams to concentrate on better processes while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

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