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Jira Versions: How and Why to Update to the Latest Version

Jira has helped thousands of teams organize tasks, track project progress, and collaborate since its launch in 2002. Atlassian continuously incorporates user feedback and new features to ensure that Jira meets the evolving needs of modern organizations. Its ever-improving project management capabilities have made it the go-to choice for software developers, marketers, HR personnel, and other professionals looking to streamline workflows and boost efficiency. But to take full advantage of Jira’s features and Atlassian’s ongoing efforts, organizations must update to the latest version of Jira.

If your organization uses Jira Cloud, you’re in luck: your Jira instance is automatically updated by Atlassian whenever they release a new version. For enterprises using Jira Data Center, however, upgrading Jira is a more complex endeavor. They must weigh the benefits of upgrading against potential impacts on existing workflows and integrations.

Whether you’re considering updating your own Jira deployment or are simply curious about Jira’s development over the past several years, you’re in the right place. Let’s start with an overview of the last three major Jira releases before taking a closer look at why and how to update Jira to the latest version.

Versions of Jira: the Last Three Major Releases

Each of Jira’s last three major releases — Jira 7, 8, and 9 — have included significant enhancements and new features to better meet the evolving needs of Atlassian’s user base. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these development milestones brought to Jira.

Jira 7

Jira 7 was first released in October 2015 and saw its last long-term support release in October 2020. Jira 7’s initial release added a project sidebar to improve the user experience, included built-in Kanban and Scrum boards for the first time, and featured a new suite of reports. Throughout its lifecycle, Jira 7 received a steady stream of updates and patches. These incremental improvements included modernizing the look of Jira and quick search capabilities that display relevant issues without the need to conduct a full search.

Jira 8

Atlassian released Jira 8 in February 2019, introducing several significant new features. It continued to improve the look and feel of Jira with revamped boards, backlogs, and priority icons. Jira 8 saw significant performance improvements of anywhere from 16% to 87% as well, depending on the action being performed. Jira 8 also saw the introduction of Advanced Roadmaps in May 2020, an evolution of Jira Portfolio. Advanced Roadmaps provide teams with enhanced visualization and planning capabilities in the form of dynamic roadmaps that help align team members and resources with overarching project goals. Additional updates and patches to Jira 8 included features intended to improve data security and compliance with the GDPR.

Jira 9

The current version of Jira, Jira 9, was released by Atlassian in June 2022. Jira 9 integrated the robust automation features of Atlassian’s in-house automation app, Automation for Jira, into Jira Data Center. Updates to Jira 9 also added enhanced issue search functionality, improved commenting capabilities, and better control over project permissions. Jira 9.13, the most recent update, went live on January 22, 2024, and focused on making it easier for users to create and edit issues.

Why Update to the Latest Version of Jira?

Staying current with the latest version of Jira ensures access to the newest features and improvements introduced by Atlassian. Jira is always evolving to address emerging trends and user feedback, providing customers with enhanced functionality, better performance, and a more intuitive user experience. Updating to the latest version of Jira is also essential for maintaining security and compliance standards. Atlassian addresses vulnerabilities and other issues identified in previous versions with each new release. By staying updated, organizations can mitigate the risk of security breaches and protect sensitive data, safeguarding their reputation and maintaining the trust of customers and stakeholders.

How to Transition Your Jira Deployment to the Latest Update

Before making the decision to upgrade to the latest version of Jira, your organization should consider several key factors. First assess the compatibility of your existing workflows, integrations, and plugins with the new version to avoid unexpected disruptions to key operations, carefully weighing the downsides of a potential upgrade against the advantages of staying updated. Your company should also allocate sufficient resources for all aspects of the update process, including testing your new Jira deployment, training employees on its new features, and handling potential downtime during the update. By carefully evaluating these considerations, your organization can make informed decisions regarding when and how it decides to upgrade Jira, leading to a smooth transition.

If your organization has decided to proceed with updating Jira to a new version, start with this guide to some best practices, in addition to reviewing Atlassian’s own documentation:

  • Review system requirements: Before proceeding with the update, review the system requirements for the new version of Jira to ensure compatibility with your existing infrastructure. Depending on your organization's current hosting environment, you may need to make an intermediate update (such as from Jira 7 to 8) before upgrading to the latest version of Jira.
  • Backup Jira data and configuration: Create a comprehensive backup of your Jira instance, including its data and configuration settings. This ensures that you can restore your system to its previous state in the event of any unforeseen issues during the update.
  • Check plugin compatibility: Assess the compatibility of any third-party plugins or integrations with the new version of Jira. Verify that all plugins will remain compatible or identify alternative solutions to keep projects on track.
  • Update test environment: If available, update your test environment to the new Jira version before upgrading your live Jira deployment. This allows you to identify and resolve any potential issues or conflicts before updating your production environment.
  • Carry out the update: Once you've completed testing, proceed with updating your production environment to Jira 8 or to Jira 9. Follow the relevant documentation and instructions carefully to execute the update smoothly and minimize downtime for your users.

Keep Current with Each New Jira Version

Staying current with new versions of Jira ensures that your organization will always benefit from the platform's latest features and improvements. But managing each update in-house can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring technical expertise that many companies lack. That’s why partnering with an Atlassian Solution Partner to help you navigate and streamline the transition to the newest version of Jira makes so much sense.

Contegix, an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, has years of experience helping organizations optimize and update their Jira deployments. Contegix provides end-to-end support throughout the upgrade process, from initial planning and assessment to execution and post-upgrade support. Contegix's team of certified Jira experts will assess your current environment, identify potential challenges, and develop a customized upgrade plan tailored to meet your organization's specific needs. With Contegix's support, you can minimize downtime, mitigate risks, and unlock the full potential of Jira's latest capabilities.

To learn more about how Contegix can help you update to the newest version of Jira and get the most out of your Atlassian deployment, contact us today.