GitLab Strategy with Sid Sibrandij

The word “DevOps” has a different definition depending on who you ask. 

For some people, it is about the process of managing and releasing code. It can involve container management and server orchestration. It can involve infrastructure-as-code, and safer configuration management. In addition to a set of technologies, DevOps can be seen as a management concept that describes agile practices, and breaking down communication barriers between different teams.

One thing that most software companies have decided is that whatever DevOps is, we want it. We want to release more software, we want to do it faster, and we want to do it safer. We want streamlined communication between management and engineering. We want a full understanding of the “value chain” of software.

Despite the elusiveness of a single description for what DevOps is, GitLab can credibly describe itself as a tool that satisfies the DevOps needs of most enterprises. GitLab started as an open source version control management system based on Git. It has expanded into products that include continuous integration, security, issue tracking, and monitoring. 

The trajectory of GitLab into such a large platform is something that nobody anticipated. The best explanation for how it happened is that it is the downstream result of an engineer within GitLab deciding that the code hosting product needed to have a continuous integration product bundled with it as an option for a tightly coupled, unified workflow.

Today, there are many enterprises trying to make a big set of changes to their development practices. The world is consolidating around Git for version control and Kubernetes for container management. Almost every enterprise is figuring out a “cloud strategy”. Every team wants to have continuous integration, and they want it to have some security products paired with that release workflow in a popular, vaguely defined set of practices known as “DevSecOps”.

With so many changes coming to enterprises, it turns out that many of these enterprises just want some sane defaults. When GitLab came to market with a bundled CI and code hosting product, the company discovered that the customers were very happy to have integrated tools that worked well out of the box. This was in stark contrast to the years of NxN tooling integration that an enterprise would have to make to stitch together their broad range of carefully selected tools.

Sid Sibrandij is the CEO of GitLab, and he joins the show for a conversation about how GitLab arrived at its product development strategy. In a previous episode, Sid discussed some of the core features and history of GitLab. Today’s show expands on many of the subjects we explored previously. We also had a spirited discussion of the modern nature of work, and how GitLab’s unique culture and fully remote team have evolved as the company has scaled.

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