A long time debate over Gitlab vs Jenkins has been happening among the developers. With the rise of DevOps testing, developers demanded the best CI/CD tools. Amid so many products in the market, selecting the right tool can be a daunting task. To sort out the issue we have come up with a blog that will provide a head-to-head comparison between the two most popular CI/CD tools. Gitlab and Jenkins are the best tools in the current market that offer automation for different stages of software development, testing, and deployment. This blog compares the two widely used CI/CD servers on the basis of work distribution, plugins, installation, pricing, and more. But before going through the detailed comparison, have a look at these servers, features, and their benefits.
What is Jenkins?
Jenkins is one of the most popular open source automation servers and CI/CD developer tools. Launched under an MIT license, Jenkins comprises a set of features that support the building, deploying, and automation of any project. Jenkins is written in Java and is compatible with any system, including Windows, macOS, and other UNIX versions (OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc.).
Originally the Jenkins project was referred to as Hudson. Hudson, an automation tool for Java, made it easier for the developers to identify and fix the integration issue at an early stage of the development process. Initially, the design was created by Kohsuke Kawaguchi only for Sun MicroSystems but later was offered to other companies as an open source.
In the year 2010, when Oracle took over Sun Microsystems, an issue arose related to the management of Hudson. As a result, the Hudson open-source community introduced a new fork of Hudson, named Jenkins. Both automation tools were in practice for some time, but later, Hudson was put to an end in early 2020. However, Jenkins got connected with the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF), a leading open-source foundation that comprises companies, such as Google.
Key Features of Jenkins
- Easy to Install Open Source: Jenkins can run as a servlet in Java containers and is available for macOS, Unix, Windows platforms. The open-source requires primarily installing JRE in the system for easy installation.
- Offers Numerous Plugins: Currently, Jenkins holds 1500+ plugins to build tools which makes the customization process easy. This feature enables the developers not to spend an extra penny on buying expensive plugins.
- Easy to Setup and Configure: Following a few steps and the supporting documentation, one can easily set up and configure this tool. Also, the upgradation process of Jenkins is well-explained in the documentation and hassle-free.
- Supports Parallel Execution: It is easy to integrate Jenkins with other dissimilar tools to conclude if the build is working or unsuccessful. The tool supports parallel execution across various virtual machines.
- Work Distribution: It is easy to distribute work across various machines with Jenkins. Jenkins helps in faster building, testing, deploying any project across multiple platforms.
Pros and Cons of Jenkins
- Has a large plugin ecosystem
- Easy debugging of runners and has complete control over workspaces
- Easy to set up and configure this tool
- Easy to deploy codes
- Integrates with SSO
- Very intuitive, flexible, and versatile feature
- Supports various languages
- Plugin integration is complex
- Lack of pipeline-tracking analytics
- YAML interface is not maintained
- Smaller projects face overhead as they have to set up the tool themself.
What is GitLab?
Gitlab is a free and self hosted open source code management and CI/CD tool. Introduced in 2013 by Valery Sizov and Dmytro Zaporozhets, the tool comprises excellent features, an issue tracking system, code reviews, provides SCM, release and connects with Active Directory for code integration. Gitlab allows developers to seamlessly collaborate with team members working on code repository, project planning, and testing to drive faster business outcomes. Further, it is a full-fledged tool that enables developers to replicate the code for building new software or application. The tool offers complete transparency, traceability and consistency.
The Gitlab software is written in Ruby and launched under an MIT license. In 2013 after the software creation, it was split into two versions – Gitlab Enterprise and Gitlab Community Editions. The tool can host 100,000+ repositories from different open-source developers globally. It works only on Unix-based platforms, including Ubuntu, RedHat etc. ASA, Sony, Ericsson, Intel, IBM are a few high-profile companies that use GitLab.
Key Features of GitLab
- Easy Installation and Configuration: GitLab has become one of the popular free CI/ CD tools over time. It is a free and self-hosted tool that is easy to install, configure, and can be used for the automation of deployments.
- Issue Tracking & Shuffling: GitLab allows testing of parallel pull requests and branches which makes it a preferred choice for numerous open-source projects. The issue tracking and issue shuffling features in GitLab enable trouble-free monitoring.
- Community Support: The community support system of GitLab is quite active. Developers are provided out-of-the-box support. Also, the paid users are provided (SLAs), 24×7 Technical Support, and comprehensive documentation.
- Plugins: The different stages of DevOps become more efficient with the help of several plugins covered under this tool.
- Provides Insights: GitLab insights is a paid version that allows users to monitor any change made to the system or their effect on the products performance. This feature makes it easier for the user to handle the different business aspects of the product.
Pros and Cons of GitLab
- Docker integration system is better
- Easy to add jobs and manage conflict issues
- Easy code deployment features
- Offer secure privacy policies
- Built-in CI/ CD feature
- Easy to Setup and Install this tool
- Offers highly flexible and versatile features
- Scrutinize the quality of a code
- Supports other languages
- Built with Enterprise-Grade Security Capabilities
- Properly manages the Entire Lifecycle of Applications
- The tool has a lot of bugs and is dependent on the versioning tool.
- Branch merge testing is not likely to happen before the actual merge
- No support for stages within phases
- Do not provide reports
- No analytics for pipeline tracking
- Overhead for smaller projects
Jenkins Vs GitLab: Head to Head Comparison
Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment
There is no built-in CI feature in Jenkins, but can be set up for numerous code repositories and languages by means of pipelines. This method helps deliver products faster and better. However, GitLab comprises a built-in CI/CD feature that enables a quick setup of CI/CD pipelines. Auto DevOps, another feature in Gitlab, helps scan code language, offers secure auditing, and automatic building, testing, and deploying tasks.
Both the tools are easy to install. But Jenkins requires you to firstly install JRE on your system, secondly download the file and then run the tool. It is a self-hosted available on-premise for all Windows, Unix, and Mac platforms, and can run on Java containers. For tool configuration, you may require a web interface.
As GitLab only supports Unix-based platforms, developers may need to follow a round-about process. For updating GitLab, change the docker image. Also, it is self-hosted and on-premise too.
Jenkins offers 1500+ plugins available for each CI/CD task, whereas GitLab has limited plugin support available at the stage of DevOps. The plugins under Jenkins are regularly updated and customizable. It is easy to integrate Jenkins’s plugins with different DevOps tools.
Under the pricing model, save licensing costs on Jenkins. It requires additional expenses only for hosting. It is an open-source server that needs to be timely updated and maintained.
GitLab, a free open-source tool, is divided into three sections:
- Free version with 400 CI/CD minutes per month
- Premium version – $19 per user per month with 10,000 CI/CD minutes per month. It also covers ops insights, release controls, project management, etc.
- Ultimate version – $99 per user per month with 50,000 CI/CD minutes per month. Apart from the premium version features, it includes compliance or value stream management, advanced security, portfolio management, and more.
GitLab helps save 90% of EC2 instance costs with its Auto-scaling feature for CI runners. It is accessible to the repositories at the project or organizational level. However, Jenkins has a more complicated auto-scale option, due to which it gets difficult to perform any changes in the Jenkins architecture workflow. Further, it requires a script to install software and tools, like CloudWatch for monitoring auto-scale triggering events.
It is easy to distribute workloads under Jenkins in comparison to GitLab. Jenkins performs faster lifecycles with reduced time frames with its parallel execution feature and distributed workloads. However, GitLab requires the configuration of parallel execution in the YAML file to perform a similar operation.
Both the tools facilitate parallel execution. Under Jenkins, the feature allows running multiple builds across multiple virtual machines. Thus, making it easier for developers to test their codes faster and more frequently. However, GitLab replicates the task and runs parallel in the backend.
REST API Support
GitLab offers a REST API for groups and projects, whereas Jenkins REST API supports XML, Python, and JSON to help in the functionality extension.
Jenkins Vs GitLab: Final Verdict
GitLab and Jenkins have gained popularity as the leading CI/CD tools over time. Both tools are now easily available in the market. Designed to automate CI/CD processes, both carry excellent features with minor differences. In this post, we have discussed the pros and cons of each tool, with GitLab getting an edge under code collaboration and version control. However, Jenkins excels in continuous integration. It is tough to pinpoint which tool is better. All you need to do is go through your budget, project requirement, technology stack, and in-house proficiency to find which one suits your requirement.