The National Hockey League (NHL) is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. It was recently brought to my attention that they are happily using our tools, and they wouldn’t mind chatting about how they use them.
I spoke with Andrus Adamchik based out of the NHL’s New York headquarters. Andrus is in the Application Development department and has been at the NHL for the better part of a decade. The biggest take-away from the interview is that anyone who logs into the www.nhl.com is passed through Crowd, Atlassian’s single sign-on (SSO) and identity management tool.
NHL at a glance
- Industry: Professional Sports
- Headquarters: NYC, USA
- Founded: 1917
- Products used: JIRA, Confluence, Crowd
How long have you been at the NHL?
Since 2002, working permanently since 2006.
What is your role?
Consultant, Developer, and Architect. I helped design a more current and modern website. I have been one of the lead developers since 2006.
What department are you in?
What Atlassian products are you currently using?
JIRA, Confluence and Crowd.
How did the products make their way into the NHL?
I recommended them to the NHL. When we started a project in 2006, when we needed bug tracking software, it was a no brainer to use JIRA because I was familiar with it from doing various open source projects, including Apache Cayenne. Atlassian made a smart move giving free licenses to Open Source developers.
Were you using an issue tracker before JIRA?
I used various issue trackers in other places, but when we needed one at the NHL, JIRA was the Number 1 candidate.
How are you using JIRA?
Internal bug tracking, but it has now spread around the organisation. A few hundered people are using it.
Do the different departments have their own projects?
Yes, exactly. Each development department or group has its own project. For example, we have one for sys admin and one for website development and so on. So, we have 5 projects right now.
What advice would you give another company considering using JIRA?
That it is one of the best tools on the market right now. We have tried a few other things. Maybe it is my past experience with JIRA, and I am biased, but it is really the best. We haven’t even got into the customizations or plugins, we are just using the basic installation.
Just out of the box?
Yes. The only customization we have made is some workflow items. We organize our development and build process around JIRA workflow.
How are you using Confluence?
We started using it because we needed an enterprise wiki. JIRA was working well for us, so we went for another Atlassian product. It has more users than JIRA. JIRA is used more by testers and developers, while Confluence is used by more business people to create requirements to create the definitions of new products. Of course, our development group uses it a lot for software design and getting documentation to end users.
Can you comment on how Confluence spread in the company?
It was an organic growth. Some would send other people links to documents, and they would open it and start playing around. It spread organically, no one was forced to use it.
Prior to Confluence, was there another product in place?
It was the first wiki we brought in.
Have you guys done any customizations to Confluence?
Not yet. We just use it as is.
Tell me about Crowd.
Crowd serves the live NHL.com website, and has been in production for a year and a half. This is where we have done lots of custom development, and we hope we can continue it on to future editions. Upgrading to a current version will be a real test for Crowd’s enterprise capabilities.
Do you know how many people are using Crowd on your site?
I can’t give you the exact number, but it is anyone on the nhl.com website that logs in in the upper right hand corner of our site. All the social networking that we do, forums, and premium video packages; it all goes through Crowd. It is a LOT of people.
Do you use it for single sign-on between JIRA and Confluence?
Originally, we wanted to use Crowd for single sign-on, but because JIRA and Confluence evolved independently, we decided it was too much trouble to reconcile the accounts, we just left it as is.
Are there any other non-Atlassian tools that you integrate with?
Crowd integrates with our main application stack. We place a number of internal business frameworks inside the custom Crowd connectors.
Are people using our tools in ways you haven’t expected?
Yes. When use started to spread out of our development group, many people wanted to have their own custom workflows. So, it was good the license we had supported custom workflows. I guess some other people wanted to tweak this and that, but mostly it was worklfow customizations.
Any final comments?
We have been relying on Atlassian tools for a couple of years and like Atlassian products.