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The story behind the picture: how VSCO scaled with Atlassian Cloud


As VSCO has grown from a photography app to a rapidly growing subscription business and vibrant global community of users, so too has their need for fast, effective collaboration. All it took was one Atlassian power user to unlock the tools’ – and their teams’ – potential.

The cameras on our phones enable all of us to capture and share our daily experiences. VSCO has built a vibrant global community where anyone — from teen to working professional to professional photographer — can share whatever inspires them, without the pressure of likes and comments. VSCO’s community of creators has grown to more than two million paid subscribers around the world who are making images, finding inspiration, and sharing their work every day. 

And behind these images is a story in itself. As their user base grew, the VSCO team needed tools that could grow as they, too, scaled. After considering their need for performance, security, scale, and advanced features, these longtime Atlassian Server customers decided to move to Atlassian Cloud.

VSCO has long relied on a variety of Atlassian solutions to keep their teams moving forward —Jira Software for bug and task tracking, Confluence for documentation and announcements, Jira Service Desk for internal IT requests, and more recently Trello for project management.

These tools have connected the dots between VSCO's various teams and projects – for example, being able to link Confluence pages to Jira epics means “[e]veryone can see how an idea flows from strategy to execution," says Sky Frostenson, Director of Technical Product Management. This level of openness and connection empowers employees to collaborate intuitively and effectively.

When Sky joined VSCO, he knew there were better ways to harness the power of Atlassian tools—from taking advantage of new features and workflows to moving their entire organization to the cloud.

“In my first few months, I noticed some operational and process issues that could easily be improved,” says Sky. “Team members spent hours in meetings every week, often just discussing basic updates.” So he made it his personal mission to solve these challenges by fine-tuning and customizing Atlassian tools to optimize the way VSCO teams collaborate.

But new customizations and processes wouldn’t be enough for this growing company. Sky saw the writing on the wall—it read “cloud.” He took the initiative to develop a migration plan, advocate for the move, and see it through to reality.

“Ease of maintenance was the primary reason we migrated,” Sky explains. “We’re a lean organization and we want to stay focused on delivering value to our two million members. It’s hard to justify the time spent on internal tool upgrades when they don’t directly contribute to our mission to help people fall in love with their creativity.”

Since migrating to cloud, VSCO has reaped the benefits, from security and performance to the availability of new features.

Putting their full trust in Atlassian to worry about maintenance, Sky and his team can spend more time focusing on what they do best — fostering creativity and building communities. “We feel good knowing that Atlassian’s taking care of all the updates and patches,” says Sky. “The unified identity management lets us apply the same permission models across Jira and Confluence, making it easier to reason about system access, onboard new employees and contractors, and partition information as needed.”

Just as important, Sky needed to know his team always had availability to their essential tools. “Performance and uptime have been solid,” he says, relieved to know he no longer has to worry about scheduled service outages or hardware upgrades.

His VSCO teammates have also found their stride in cloud, loving the new user interface, enhanced features, and immediate access to updates. “The team found that the new Cloud UI was much cleaner, unobtrusive, and more flexible,” says Sky.

But it’s so much more than looks. To stay on the cutting edge of technology, VSCO employees need the newest features and technology available. Now the burden doesn’t fall onto one admin but instead equips everyone with access to the latest in Atlassian innovation.

New cloud features have been a game-changer for VSCO, like Jira’s next-gen projects, which allow teams to create their own configurations without relying on an admin. Other cloud benefits include access to Atlassian mobile apps and features like sidebar linking and an improved Confluence integration.

VSCO has also taken full advantage of the hundreds of cloud apps available. “Cloud apps help to make Jira a single source of truth for development workflow, support load and triage priority, asset management, and company-wide planning,” Sky says. “We’ve saved many person-months overall across teams thanks to the introduction of these apps."

VSCO won’t be slowing down anytime soon. With their millions of users, they’re leaders in shaping a new kind of social platform and community. As VSCO continues to grow, we’re proud to power the tools that help them create diverse, vibrant communities. 

“Atlassian solutions balance power and ease of use,” says Sky. “There are not many tools that do that well and continue to meet your needs as you grow.”

It’s this flexibility and scalability that has unlocked VSCO’s potential and empowered the company to do the same for its community of creators. By customizing Atlassian to their processes and culture, VSCO’s team is now working faster and more effectively than ever as they support users through every step of their creative journey.

Considering moving your organization to cloud? Learn more in our Cloud Migration Center.

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Erica Moss
Rising Star
Rising Star
Rising Stars are recognized for providing high-quality answers to other users. Rising Stars receive a certificate of achievement and are on the path to becoming Community Leaders.
Jul 22, 2019

VSCO is one of my favorite photo apps — so fascinating to hear how they're using our products! Great read. 📚

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