GitLab announced this week it has acquired UnReview, a provider of a tool that employs machine learning algorithms to identify which expert code reviewers to assign to a project based on both the quality of their previous efforts and current workloads.
David DeSanto, senior director for product management at GitLab, said the acquisition of UnReview is the latest step in an AI strategy that, in addition to optimizing DevOps processes, will eventually unify machine learning operations (MLOps) and DevOps workflows.
Accessed via the Dev section of the GitLab platform, UnReview will also be employed to manage the overall code review process.
DeSanto said GitLab is committed to employing AI technologies to automate workflows and compressing cycle times across all stages of the DevSecOps life cycle. The goal is to not eliminate the need for DevOps teams, but rather eliminate low-level tasks that conspire to hamper productivity while at the same time improving application security, noted DeSanto.
Providers of DevOps platforms are now locked into an AI arms race on two separate fronts. Each of them clearly sees the opportunity to leverage machine learning algorithms and other forms of AI to automate a wide range of processes. At the same time, it’s apparent providers of MLOps platforms are borrowing heavily from DevOps best practices to manage the development of AI models. However, from the perspective of a DevOps team, an AI model is just another type of software artifact. Rather than deploying two distinct platforms, the goal should be to bring the data scientists that build AI models into the larger DevOps community, said DeSanto.
The current challenge, of course, is the pace at which DevOps and data science teams work. It may take six months or more for a data science team to construct and validate an AI model that needs to be embedded within an application. Aligning the timetable for an AI model with the application development life cycle is difficult to accomplish if neither team has any meaningful visibility into each other’s workflows. As the rate at which AI models can be developed steadily improves, that alignment issue will only become all the more pressing.
Going forward, it’s hard to envision any application that won’t have some sort of AI model embedded within it. The issue is that, just like any other software artifact, an AI model needs to be updated. As new data sources become available, an AI model is likely to drift beyond the parameters intended. A rapid change in business conditions may also require the replacement of an entire AI model. The same processes that DevOps teams apply to update any software artifact can also be applied to an AI model.
It’s unclear how long it will take before some type of convergence of DevOps and MLOps inevitably occurs, as organizations look for more efficient ways to manage what will become thousands of AI models. The one certain thing is the longer it takes to make the effort, the more difficult it will become to overcome the organizational inertia that has been allowed to set in.