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Buyer's Guide
Build Automation
September 2022
Get our free report covering Google, Jenkins, GitLab, and other competitors of Concourse for VMware Tanzu. Updated: September 2022.
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Corné den Hollander - PeerSpot reviewer
Product Owner at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Powerful, mature, and easy to set up and manage
Pros and Cons
  • "It's a great toolbox where the CI/CD pipeline is the fundamental component, but there are so many other features that you can pull from, which makes it a very powerful tool. My current client is using AWS, and they can, of course, use AWS CodePipeline, but GitLab is much more mature than that, and it also gives you the freedom to decide to go to another platform or have a multi-cloud strategy and things like that. That freedom for me is also very valuable."
  • "It's more related to the supporting layer of features, such as issue management and issue tracking. We tend to always use, for example, Jira next to it. That doesn't mean that GitLab should build something similar to Jira because that will always have its place, but they could grow a bit in those kinds of supporting features. I see some, for example, covering ITSM on a DevOps team level, and that's one of the things that I and my current client would find really helpful. It's understandably not going to be their main focus and their core, and whenever you are with a company that needs a bit more advanced features on that specific topic, you're probably still going to integrate with another tool like Jira Service Management, for example. However, some basic features on things like that could be really helpful."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a product owner. So, I'm not really using the product myself on a day-to-day basis, but I've been managing teams and companies using GitLab for four to five years. Besides that, I've been involved in two or three tool selection experiences where GitLab was one of the candidates, and because of that, I pretty thoroughly investigated GitLab.

What is most valuable?

It's a great toolbox where the CI/CD pipeline is the fundamental component, but there are so many other features that you can pull from, which makes it a very powerful tool. My current client is using AWS, and they can, of course, use AWS CodePipeline, but GitLab is much more mature than that, and it also gives you the freedom to decide to go to another platform or have a multi-cloud strategy and things like that. That freedom for me is also very valuable.

What needs improvement?

It's more related to the supporting layer of features, such as issue management and issue tracking. We tend to always use, for example, Jira next to it. That doesn't mean that GitLab should build something similar to Jira because that will always have its place, but they could grow a bit in those kinds of supporting features. I see some, for example, covering ITSM on a DevOps team level, and that's one of the things that I and my current client would find really helpful. It's understandably not going to be their main focus and their core, and whenever you are with a company that needs a bit more advanced features on that specific topic, you're probably still going to integrate with another tool like Jira Service Management, for example. However, some basic features on things like that could be really helpful.

In terms of additional features, nothing comes to mind. One of the potential pitfalls is to keep adding new features and functionalities. They can just improve some of the existing features to make it high-end, top-quality. I don't have any substantial experience with agile planning. I don't know the industries GitLab is in, and I don't know why they make decisions like this, but as a customer, I would rather see them invest in improving the basic agile planning functionalities rather than adding, for example, portfolio planning features. That's because if I'm going to do portfolio planning, I probably will also need a lot of business users. I'm not sure if I want them in GitLab, I'd rather have them in Jira collaborating with me on portfolio planning. That's way better fitted for that type of work.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I don't have a strong opinion on that or much experience with that because, in the two companies, we used a self-hosted instance of GitLab where the user base was pretty small with 40 or 50 users. My current client has 300 users, which still is not huge, and we're using a managed hosted server. Its performance is fine. It is not stunning, but fine. I just don't have an insight on how much effort that costs from the hosting party.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a scalable product. For my current client, we're looking at doing exactly that. We have been using the basic features, and we're looking into making more use of the security features and static testing unit. We're in the middle of doing that. I wouldn't be doing that if I wasn't convinced about its scalability.

How are customer service and support?

My current experience is with the hosted instance of GitLab. So, there's a company in between.

Before that, I've been having contact with them in the tool selection phase as well as the implementation phase, and I was very happy and impressed with their knowledge and responsiveness. I would be curious to see how it is if you're three years into using the tool and run into an issue. That's because in the phase of being one of the tools you want to consider for CI/CD, obviously, they're very willing and eager to get you on board, and thus are on top of your support request, but if you're a running customer, with three or four years in, I'm curious how their responsiveness and expertise would be. I don't have that experience.

Based on my experience, I would rate them a four out of five. They were very good. If I have a question or we aren't getting support quite quickly enough, I would still feel free to call the account manager I was in contact with back then.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

How was the initial setup?

I haven't done it myself yet, but I have been working with the teams who have, and I would rate it a four out of five in terms of the ease of setup. It's pretty straightforward. That's also one of the strengths of GitLab. For example, for my current client, setting up a default GitLab runner that suits most of the teams was the biggest challenge, which is a compliment to the setup procedure of GitLab because that was easy enough.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's always difficult to compare prices fairly because features between competitors always differ pretty strongly. 

There are three tiers. The Premium version of GitLab is a no-brainer. If I look at the difference between Free and Premium, I would always go for Premium. For me, that's a no-brainer. In terms of competitiveness, they're doing a great job with Premium. The step between Premium and Ultimate might need a business case in most companies. You get a lot more features, but there is also a pretty steep difference in price.

I'm not sure if they have some kind of discount. I've been negotiating with them on prices before, and I believe they weren't too happy to give discounts, but list prices are $19 per user, per month for Premium and $99 per user, per month for Ultimate. 

So, the difference between Premium and Ultimate is a bit bigger, and in most companies, you need to build some type of business case. If I look at the security testing features that you get, such as compliance and value streaming portfolio mapping, I'm not sure if a lot of companies are directly looking for that in GitLab. I myself would rather, for example, use Jira for that than GitLab, but still, security and compliance for me would be the biggest benefits of going to Ultimate. My current client is in the financial industry, and business cases are built up rather easily. So, in terms of competitiveness of features, they're doing pretty well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In the last tool selection I was involved in, the main competitors were GitHub and Atlassian. CircleCI was another one, but it wasn't a strong competitor. We were not sure about CircleCI.

The difference between GitLab and GitHub is minimal. They're pretty similar. The difference between GitHub and Atlassian is a bit bigger because Atlassian has several applications. If you were to set up a CI/CD pipeline, you would need Jira, BitBucket, and then bigger pipelines, or Bamboo as a build too. You would also need a couple of tools for user management. You need to set up a tool stack. Atlassian's flexibility is perfect, but if you were to score that on ease of setup, that's probably going to score worse than GitHub. That's a clear difference for me between Atlassian tooling and GitLab.

For me, CircleCI, Jenkins, CloudBees, Concourse, and Travis are doing the same in a way. There's some overlap, but the target audience is completely different. As a big enterprise, you wouldn't be looking at a tool like that very soon. Those are tools that would fit in a pipeline for a smaller company that really values flexibility and a customizable developer experience. In an enterprise environment, you just want one tool that's easy to set up and easy to manage, and GitLab and GitHub are perfect for that.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, I would rate it an eight out of ten. I am very satisfied with it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Software Engineering Manager at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Supports most of the open-source plug-ins, has the auto-schedule feature, and does not trigger a build when there is no change
Pros and Cons
  • "The auto-schedule feature is valuable. Another valuable feature is that Jenkins does not trigger a build when there is no change in any of the systems. Jenkins also supports most of the open-source plug-ins."
  • "There are a lot of things that they can try to improvise. They can reduce a lot of configurations. It is currently supporting Groovy for scripting. It would be really good if it can be improvised for Python because, for most of the automation, we have Python as a script. It would be good if can also support Python. We have a lot of Android builds. These Android builds can be a part of Jenkins. It can have some plug-ins or configurations for Android builds. There should also be some internal matrix to check the performance. We also want to have more REST API support, which is currently not much in Jenkins. We are not able to get more information about running Jenkins. More REST API support should be provided."

What is our primary use case?

We are an automotive infotainment software provider. Our products are for infotainment. We have displays or music systems that are dealing with the Android operating system, and we are using Jenkins for some of the jobs.

We have two deployment models. One is on-premises, and the other one is the private cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

As an organization, we have multiple products and variants. For example, a customer or OEM has multiple car lines or brands. There is a common platform, and Jenkins is helping with the source code. From this common platform, each of the variants is taken for the build. We don't need to build and test. 

We get to see the results, and it is also useful to see the status in terms of success, failure, or any issue. We are able to get the status for a variant. It is connected to other dashboards such as Grafana, and we are able to see everything in one place. 

It has been helpful in monitoring the progress and understanding how the daily build is happening. It gives us confidence that the products that we have built are shippable. We are able to get the status of whether a product is shippable or has a problem. This is the advantage that we have from an organizational standpoint.

What is most valuable?

The auto-schedule feature is valuable. Another valuable feature is that Jenkins does not trigger a build when there is no change in any of the systems. Jenkins also supports most of the open-source plug-ins. 

What needs improvement?

There are a lot of things that they can try to improvise. They can reduce a lot of configurations. It is currently supporting Groovy for scripting. It would be really good if it can be improvised for Python because, for most of the automation, we have Python as a script. It would be good if can also support Python.

We have a lot of Android builds. These Android builds can be a part of Jenkins. It can have some plug-ins or configurations for Android builds. There should also be some internal matrix to check the performance. 

We also want to have more REST API support, which is currently not much in Jenkins. We are not able to get more information about running Jenkins. More REST API support should be provided.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for almost six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been pretty stable. We haven't faced any issues. If you are running Jenkins in any lower hardware, or your machine or hardware is not that compatible, you might see some memory or Java issues. If you are running Jenkins in a good hardware environment, you don't see any problem. When you have the right hardware and proper memory, there is no problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is one of the challenging parts. Before the Docker area, we had a lot of challenges in terms of scaling because in one product, we had version 2.215, and in another product, we had a different version. If you want to migrate from one version to another or if you want to pull a different product, it took some time. It took two weeks time to set it up in a different environment. With the help of Kubernetes and Docker, we are able to spin off a couple of clusters with the Jenkins master. It is helping us a lot.

We have around 4,000 users for multiple Jenkins. We are a product-based company. Our products are built daily by using Jenkins. Out of 4,000, 60% of the users are using it for development and continuous release purposes. It is also used for nightly builds.

How are customer service and technical support?

For support, we have only reached out to the open-source community. We find information on the web, and with trial and error, we are able to solve problems.

If you get any licensed product, you get support, but with open-source solutions, you don't get such support. So, we are fully dependent on the Jenkins community and people with some experience for fixing the issues.

How was the initial setup?

It is straightforward. We have the software, and we create a Docker file. We use Jenkins as a master for our project, and we also build all plug-ins and create one Docker image. We give a single command to some administrative people to install the master.

In terms of deployment duration, we have an automated Docker setup, which hardly takes one day. The manual method would take a week.

What about the implementation team?

There are a lot of frequent virtual updates from Jenkins. If there is a change, we put it into our Docker container, and then we will check and confirm it, which is a good part. If you are not going for Docker, there is a short maintenance period. For example, one version might support a plug-in, but another version might not support the same plug-in. In such a case, we have to deprecate the plug-in and go for another part.

We have 24/7 IT support at the global level. For any issues, we are able to take help. For master, we have one person dedicated not only to Jenkins but also to other deployments and technologies.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We tried CircleCI and Concourse, but we went ahead with Jenkins.

What other advice do I have?

For a person who wants to get started with Jenkins, I would advise initially deploying Docker with Jenkins. You can also create a shared library in Jenkins. You should have some basic knowledge of the Groovy script.

I would rate Jenkins an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Build Automation
September 2022
Get our free report covering Google, Jenkins, GitLab, and other competitors of Concourse for VMware Tanzu. Updated: September 2022.
633,184 professionals have used our research since 2012.