Since launching in 2001, Homegate AG has become the largest real estate portal in Switzerland and one of the leading digital companies in the country. With more than 110,000 properties listed and 200 million-plus page views each month, with the help of Eficode (formerly beecom) the site is now the go-to Swiss resource for home buying, selling, and renting.
“Moving to the cloud helps us move forward faster and focus on innovation,” says Peter Grube, Software Engineer of Homegate AG.
Focus on the future
Homegate AG’s empowered team, collaborative approach, and commitment to innovation played a huge role in securing its place as an industry leader. However, as the company grew, so did the list of resources needed to manage its infrastructure. Server maintenance required four to five employees and occasional downtime for updates. Plus, team members were so busy with tactical projects that they rarely had time for strategic initiatives or personal development. To continue their growth and uphold their reputation as industry innovators, Homegate AG needed a better solution.
“We decided to move our on-premise applications to the cloud so we could really focus on Homegate. We just want to develop Homegate further and not invest more money into maintaining our systems,” Software Engineer Peter Grube explains. “We considered using external hosting, but that would require some men in the middle to access our own data. So in the end, we decided to move Jira Software and Confluence to the cloud.”
Clearing the clutter to make room for innovation
Homegate AG already had a trusted partner in Eficode (formerly beecom), who supported them with Atlassian licenses and solution guidance, so when the company was considering who could help them with the migration to Atlassian cloud products, the answer was obvious. As Peter says, “Why look for another partner when you already have such a great one?”
After securing Eficode (formerly beecom) for this new project, Homegate AG worked with Head of Operations Maurice Ray and his team to start pre-migration planning. Over the next year, they collaborated to clean up Homegate AG’s Jira Software and Confluence Server instances and prepare for migration. Meanwhile, Peter coordinated with Homegate AG’s leadership to keep them informed and coordinate timing to ensure minimal disruption during the transition.
Since Jira Software was the core of Homegate AG’s Atlassian ecosystem, the team focused there first. Eficode (formerly beecom) began by analyzing the addon usage and cloud addon availability to eliminate Jira Software apps that weren’t being used, which reduced the instance size and lowered ongoing operational costs. Then, they cleaned up the user database by standardizing usernames and removing duplicates, created a proof of concept, and completed a partial migration to validate the process and test data before the real migration. Finally, Eficode (formerly beecom) created a cloud export from Jira Software that could be uploaded to the cloud when everything was ready.
Eficode (formerly beecom) and Homegate AG then turned their attention to Confluence, which Peter calls the company’s “central information system and point of truth.” Similar to the cleanup process they followed with Jira Software, the team used Confluence Cloud Migration Assistant to expedite cleanup and migration for Confluence.
Peter says,“First we tried to export the data manually from the server and then import it into the cloud. But this didn't really work because all the users weren’t correctly assigned, so it looked like pages were created by ‘no name’ or ‘no user.’”
That’s when they discovered the Confluence Cloud Migration Assistant. “When I tried this, I thought, ‘Wow, that's easy!’” Peter recalls. “You just pick what you want to migrate. We tested it with a small space, and everything was there. Users were correctly assigned. Permissions were assigned. It was great!
Safe and simple user management with Atlassian Access and Okta
As the team finished preparations for the Jira Software and Confluence migrations, they also seized the opportunity to automate user provisioning, enable single sign-on, and enhance security with Atlassian Access and Okta access management technology.
“Before, we had to manually add and remove users for each platform and manually manage permissions. And in that process, which happened once or twice a week, you had to think about so many things: who needs access, what permissions they need, which boxes to check, etc.,” Peter explains. “Now [with Atlassian Access], user management is automatic and centralized in one place.”
Peter says integrating Okta with Atlassian Access has also improved security with two-factor authentication and more advanced password management while giving employees faster, easier single sign-on access to the systems they use every day. These additions have saved hours each week and reduced mental load. “It’s such a big improvement,” Peter says. “I almost can’t imagine what it was like before.”
Big payoff, no tradeoffs
With Jira Software, Confluence, Atlassian Access, and Okta ready to go, Peter and Eficode (formerly beecom) felt confident going live. Fortunately, all their collaboration and preparation paved the way for success. The production migration went smoothly and finished within 24 hours.
"Integrating Atlassian Access and Okta has been such a big improvement. I almost can’t imagine what it was like before", says Peter Grube, Software Engineer of Homegate AG.
Peter says the process was “quite easy,” and employees quickly embraced the new solution. “I think we did a great job announcing the change early so employees knew it was coming. The day after the migration, we disabled all users for the Server solution, updated the links people use to access Jira Software and Confluence, and told everyone,‘Please go to the new Atlassian login site now. Don’t use the old one.’”
The smooth migration and fast adoption were a testament to Homegate AG’s planning and their partnership with Eficode (formerly beecom). “They helped us set everything up and guided us through each step, from cleanup to proof of concept to migration. They gave me the confidence that we could do it without losing any data.”
Moving forward faster
Since completing the server-to-cloud migration with Eficode's (formerly beecom) support, Homegate AG has reduced costs by 15 percent, optimized user access, and onboarding, and gained more time and energy to focus on innovation.
Before, Homegate AG staffed one employee for server updates, two to three people for Jira Software and Confluence updates, and another team member for hardware updates. Now, Peter says, “that's all gone. They can focus on other on-prem solutions (which we want to move too), on Homegate, and on developing themselves (like learning AWS).”
Peter adds that moving to Atlassian cloud has increased uptime and reduced the security risk of hacking on-premise servers. Single sign-on also saves employees a few minutes every day, so they can spend less time logging in and more time on meaningful work.
While the resource savings, security, and performance improvements have been massive for the business, the biggest change his team has noticed is that Atlassian cloud products “free your mind,” Peter says. “We don't have to think about keeping the server up and running, what to do when we need more space, or how we work. We can focus on Homegate because we don’t have all the servers and instances on our mind.”
With this extra time and mental space, the Engineering team is looking ahead and working on several “Next Gen” projects that will simplify their workflow and help them deliver even better information and products to Swiss consumers. “Our main mission is to be the place in Switzerland that helps people make real estate decisions – not only seeking a new home, but everything related to real estate,” Peter says. “Moving to the cloud and getting rid of all the old things that were slowing us down will help us move forward faster and focus on innovation.”