GitLab has expanded the capabilities of its continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platform to include tighter integration with collaboration platforms from Slack and Mattermost along with the ability to support Docker containers running on Windows.
Version 11.11 of GitLab adds a caching dependency proxy for Docker images to the Premium edition of GitLab along with the ability to provision an instance-level Kubernetes cluster using instances of GitLab that are managed by an internal DevOps team. Those capabilities are arriving on the heels of GitLab last month announcing its initial support for Kubernetes as a platform on which its CI/CD environment now can be deployed.
The latest edition of GitLab also adds support for multiple assignees for a merge request capability, which allows multiple members of a DevOps team to manage merge requests within a DevOps pipeline.
Finally, GitLab 11.11 also provides guest access to releases, extends the add-on CI runner minutes to the GitLab Free edition, supports the OpenID Connect authentication protocol, includes serialized commit graphs and simplifies reviews by auto-resolving a discussion whenever a suggestion is applied.
Priyanka Sharma, technical evangelist for GitLab, said GitLab is starting to see increased interest in using Docker containers to build applications on Windows. A Windows Container Executor for GitLab Runners capability makes it easier to orchestrate pipelines that include Docker containers destined to be deployed on Windows. Previously, DevOps teams needed to rely on a shell executor to orchestrate Docker commands. This update makes it possible to employ Docker containers on Windows in the same way they are deployed on Linux platforms. GitLab also has improved support for PowerShell, in addition to making available helper images for various versions of Windows containers.
Sharma said GitLab is starting to see IT organizations that have embraced Windows starting to catch up in terms of enthusiasm for Docker containers. Also, DevOps teams that have embraced both Linux and Windows platforms are looking to apply best DevOps practices to both platforms.
Microsoft has signaled its intention to continue investing in making Docker containers a core element of its overall strategy. As the work progresses in collaboration with Docker Inc., the need for a CI/CD platform that can support Windows environments will become more acute.
In the meantime, GitLab continues to focus on making it easier to implement best DevOps practices at scale, Sharma said. As enterprise IT organizations continue to embrace DevOps, many of them soon discover the need for a CI/CD platform designed from the ground up to support pipelines that are being accessed by many concurrent users.
The decision many of those enterprise IT organizations will have to make is how much they will want to rely on an open source versus closed source platform. The enterprise edition of GitLab is a closed source platform, but the company does make available an open source community edition. While the open source Jenkins platform currently dominates among CI/CD platforms, enterprise IT organizations that have adopted DevOps have shown a willingness to embrace proprietary DevOps platforms that address challenges ranging from the scale of deployments to security and compliance.
It’s too early to say how the next major CI/CD battle involving the shift to microservices will play out. However, if history is any guide, there should be plenty of room for both open source and proprietary CI/CD platforms.