GitLab IPO Hints at Integrated DevOps Future

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GitHub tends to get the press, but GitLab gets the IPO. The company filed his S-1 September 17, boasting an execution rate of $ 233 million, more than 2,600 contributors to its open source platform and a 100% remote workforce of 1,350 people. Impressive all around.

What is perhaps most interesting is how GitLab has carved out a market in the shadow of GitHub. GitHub expects 100 million developers use its platform by 2025 (regardless of fuzzy mathematics used to make it happen) and is the default place for developers to push their open source code. GitHub is also a great place for companies to allow their development teams to work together.

But GitHub isn’t the only place. As the numbers from GitLab show, corporate collaboration around code is happening in a big way on GitLab. This could make GitLab an obvious acquisition target for a cloud provider wanting to outflank Microsoft, which acquired GitHub in 2018.

Regardless of what GitLab may mean for investors or shareholders, what it may mean for the way companies create and run software is what makes it interesting.

The same but different

Wondering how to tell the difference between GitHub and GitLab? The standard shortcut is that GitLab is for your private repositories, while GitHub is for public repositories. This is not strictly correct, but quite close. In terms of functional differences between the two code repositories, a number of comparisons are put online (see Nap users, SpectralOps, Where activist).

Although both are repositories of code today, GitLab, unlike GitHub, started out as a collaboration tool for developers. This original vision has since been fleshed out to incorporate end-to-end and highly integrated development and deployment tools, with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI / CD) tightly integrated as a key selling point.

You can access the same basic functionality with GitHub, but some assembly is required, while GitLab takes care of all of that for you. GitLab offers a single app that is savvy while allowing flexibility and choice (i.e. it’s out of the box with built-in CI / CD, for example, but you can swap your CI / Favorite CDs).

Is one better than the other? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For companies that want to bring together development, operations, IT, security and sales teams, GitLab is the answer. In my experience, GitHub leaves many business groups out of the history of software development and deployment. But then, GitHub isn’t really trying to be the next GitLab, just like GitLab isn’t aiming to be an incarnation of GitHub.

In some ways, GitLab’s vision may be bigger, if it’s harder to achieve.

All your devops belong to us

In GitLab’s S-1, the company states an all-too-familiar platitude: “Today every industry, business, and function within a business depends on software. To stay competitive and survive, almost all businesses need to digitally transform and become experts in creating and delivering software.

What’s different with GitLab, however, is that the company takes a holistic approach to enable this transformation. Developers are often tasked with the heavy lifting of digital transformation, but GitLab’s platform is intended to include parts not normally associated with software development.

Why? “Having all teams on a single application with a single interface represents a sea change in the way organizations plan, create, secure and deliver software. “

All teams? Yes. According to S-1, the GitLab platform includes everything “from project planning … to source code management … to continuous integration … to static and dynamic application security testing. . packaging artifacts … delivery and deployment … configuring the infrastructure for optimal deployment … monitoring incidents … protecting the production deployment … [to] manage the whole cycle with the analysis of the value chain.

There is not much left. As with GitHub, most customers, S-1 ratings, are starting to use GitLab to empower their developers, but the company’s expectation (and, it seems, the experience) is that customers continue to expand their use of the platform far beyond developers.

Will it work? It remains to be seen. As the company points out in its S-1, “The market for our services is new and has not been proven and may not grow. The signs so far are good, but it’s safe to assume that many companies will take a cutting edge approach to devops, bringing the components together.

There are plenty of precedents for this: In the cloud we may have started with attempts to deliver holistic platform-as-a-service offerings, but the market voted for the AWS approach. As a RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady explained, “Less than a decade after the birth of the infrastructure-as-a-service market (and therefore the cloud), default wait has gradually become basic infrastructure primitives available as a web service, paid for. to use and available more or less instantly. . “

But that’s where the market was. It is arguably not where it is today or where it is evolving, given the need for every organization to operate at high speed.

As O’Grady notes in that same article, “If the early cloud era was defined by primitives, its days are drawing to a close. The following is likely to be defined by, as the computer industry has done since its inception, the abstractions we build on these primitives. The need for speed increasingly demands that developers (and the companies that employ them) purchase platforms that remove the complexities of building and running software.

So no, you probably won’t see GitLab challenging GitHub to be the first to host 500 million public open source code repositories. This is not its game. On the contrary, GitLab tries to enable companies to make software a central part of their operation, by hosting an increasing number of private code repositories with them. Play.

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Margie D. Carlisle