GitLab is a DevOps platform where software development and IT operations teams collaborate in one place. It aims to increase work efficiency and accelerate product delivery with better security.
As a web-based Git repository, GitLab provides free databases for private use, issue-following capabilities, documentation, and wikis. Teams can leverage various tools, such as project planning or source code management and monitoring to build and deploy software applications faster.
GitLab simplifies app development, accelerates DevOps adoption, and removes toolchain complexity. Using the platform and its centralized repository eases the developer workloads.
How a DevOps platform works
Reducing product lifecycles and increasing productivity are crucial in creating value for customers. A DevOps platform brings people, processes, and technology together to collaborate on and deliver software solutions and respond to customer needs.
The application lifecycle has four interrelated phases:
- Planning. Developers generate ideas for the application to build—define its features and describe its capabilities.
- Development. The stage of actual coding—write, test, review, and integrate codes—and creating artifacts for deployment.
- Delivery. The application is deployed in production environments and configuring the foundational infrastructure.
- Operation. The dev team maintains, monitors, and troubleshoots the app in a production environment.
Its wide range of features makes GitLab one of the leading DevOps platforms in the market. Here’s a quick list organized based on their functions:
- Manage. Tools that allow users to manage subgroups, compliance, value stream, and audit events and reports.
- Plan. Features include team planning, portfolio management, service desk, requirements management, quality management, and design management.
- Create. The features in this category are for actual coding—source code management, code review, wiki, static site editor, Web IDE, live preview, and snippets.
- Verify. GitLab provides continuous integration, code testing and coverage, performance testing, usability testing, accessibility testing, merge trains, and review apps.
- Package. It includes package registry, container registry, helm chart registry, dependency proxy, and Git LFS.
- Secure. To have better security, GitLab offers static application security testing (SAST), secret detection, code quality, dynamic application security testing (DAST), fuzz testing, dependency scanning, license compliance, and vulnerability management.
- Release. GitLab has these features designed for the deployment phase—continuous delivery, pages, advanced deployments, feature flags, release evidence, release orchestration, and environment management.
- Configure. Once the app is deployed, managing configurations is easier with auto DevOps, Kubernetes management, secrets management, ChatOps, infrastructure as code, and cluster cost management.
- Monitor. GitLab’s monitoring tools include Runbooks, metrics, incident management, on-call schedule management, logging, tracing, error tracking, and product analytics.
- Protect. It includes container scanning, security orchestration, container host security, and container network security.
Difference between GitLab and GitHub
GitLab and GitHub are web-based repositories for code management. Both are version control systems that help developers with the software development life cycle—tracking the existing code, creating source codes, and monitoring simultaneous activities and changes in different parts of the code.
However, GitLab is better known for providing DevOps and CI/CD teams with a user-friendly system, while GitHub is more of a collaboration app development platform popular among developers.
GitHub has a system for the open-source codebase with an easy-to-use user interface and a large community of users, despite issues after Microsoft’s acquisition. It supports open and remote collaboration, but it does not have very many features compared to GitLab, which limits collaboration on codes within private development teams. Also, it does not allow the inner sourcing of repositories.
Pros and cons of GitLab
One of the advantages of having a DevOps platform is that the team can track tasks and projects. It also speeds up delivery time from product development to market, adapts flexibly to competition, and keeps the system stable and reliable.
GitLab is easy to set up with user-friendly interface and development tools, offers free unlimited private repositories, has a wide range of integrations (APIs and third-party services), and has a reliable uptime.
Alternatives to GitLab
- Azure DevOps Server
- JFrog Artifactory
- CloudBees CI