GitLab was created in 2013 by Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets, Valery Sizov, and Sytse Sijbrandij as a source code management solution for collaborative software teams. GitLab is a web-based, open-source DevOps tool providing issue-tracking and continuous integration and deployment pipeline features. It makes money via its two main paid plans (Premium & Ultimate) and via its subscription add-ons.
|Business Model Element||Analysis||Implications||Examples|
|Value Proposition||GitLab’s value proposition centers around providing a comprehensive and integrated DevOps platform. Key elements of its value proposition include: – All-in-One Solution: A single platform for the entire DevOps lifecycle, from code management to deployment and monitoring. – Collaboration: Tools for collaboration among development, operations, and other teams. – Automation: CI/CD pipelines and automation to streamline software development and delivery. – Security: Built-in security features, including code scanning and vulnerability management. – Scalability: Scalable solutions suitable for small teams to large enterprises. GitLab aims to simplify and enhance the DevOps process.||Provides an all-in-one DevOps solution, reducing the need for multiple tools and integrations. Encourages collaboration and automation to boost efficiency. Prioritizes security with built-in features, enhancing the safety of the development process. Scales to accommodate the needs of both small teams and large enterprises. Attracts users looking for a comprehensive and integrated DevOps platform. Simplifies the software development and delivery process.||– Single platform for the entire DevOps lifecycle. – Collaboration tools for cross-functional teams. – Automation to streamline software delivery. – Built-in security features for code scanning and vulnerability management. – Scalable solutions for small teams to large enterprises. – Simplifies the software development and delivery process.|
|Customer Segments||GitLab serves various customer segments, including: 1. Developers: Individuals and teams responsible for coding and software development. 2. IT Operations: Teams managing infrastructure, deployment, and operations. 3. Enterprise Organizations: Large companies seeking comprehensive DevOps solutions. 4. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): Smaller businesses looking for scalable DevOps tools. GitLab caters to a wide range of users with diverse DevOps needs.||Focuses on a diverse customer base with varying roles and requirements. Customizes solutions to meet the specific needs of developers, IT operations, and enterprises. Offers scalable options suitable for both SMEs and large organizations. Provides a versatile platform for various stages of software development and delivery. Serves as a one-stop DevOps solution for multiple stakeholders.||– Serving a diverse customer base broadens the user base. – Customizes solutions for different roles and requirements. – Offers scalability for SMEs and large organizations. – Provides a versatile platform for software development and delivery. – Serves as a one-stop DevOps solution for multiple stakeholders.|
|Distribution Strategy||GitLab’s distribution strategy relies primarily on its website, cloud-based platform, and self-hosted solutions. Users can access GitLab’s platform directly through its website or opt for cloud-hosted or self-hosted solutions based on their preferences and requirements. The company also maintains an active community of users and contributors who help promote the platform. Additionally, GitLab offers professional services and support for enterprise customers.||Utilizes its website as a direct access point to its DevOps platform, ensuring accessibility. Provides cloud-based and self-hosted options to cater to different deployment preferences. Engages a community of users and contributors for platform promotion. Offers professional services and support for enterprise clients. Maintains a multi-channel distribution strategy for flexibility and reach.||– Website serves as a direct access point. – Cloud-based and self-hosted options cater to different preferences. – Engages a user and contributor community for promotion. – Offers professional services and support for enterprises. – Maintains a multi-channel distribution strategy for flexibility and reach.|
|Revenue Streams||GitLab generates revenue through various channels, including subscriptions, licensing, professional services, and support. Its primary revenue streams include: 1. Subscriptions: Paid subscriptions for access to premium features and support. 2. Licensing: Licensing fees for self-hosted and enterprise deployments. 3. Professional Services: Fees for consulting, training, and implementation services. 4. Support: Fees for technical support and assistance. These revenue streams collectively contribute to the sustainability of the platform.||Relies on subscriptions, licensing, professional services, and support as primary sources of income. Earns revenue from subscriptions for premium features and support. Gains licensing fees from self-hosted and enterprise deployments. Offers professional services for consulting, training, and implementation. Earns revenue from technical support and assistance fees. Prioritizes these revenue streams for sustaining operations and supporting its business model. Utilizes a subscription-based and service-based revenue model.||– Subscriptions provide a scalable income stream. – Licensing fees from self-hosted and enterprise deployments contribute to revenue. – Professional services offer consulting, training, and implementation income. – Support fees generate revenue from technical assistance. – Prioritizes these revenue streams for its business model. – Utilizes a subscription-based and service-based revenue model.|
|Marketing Strategy||GitLab’s marketing strategy includes online advertising, content marketing, community engagement, and partnerships. The company advertises its platform through online channels, social media, and search engine marketing to reach a wide audience of developers and IT professionals. Produces and shares valuable content, including blog posts, webinars, and documentation, to educate and attract users. Engages actively with its open-source community to foster collaboration and advocacy. Forms partnerships with other tech companies and integrations to expand its ecosystem.||Utilizes online advertising and social media to reach a broad audience interested in DevOps and software development. Produces educational content to attract and retain users. Actively engages with an open-source community for advocacy and support. Collaborates with tech companies and integrations to enhance its platform’s ecosystem. Prioritizes community-driven marketing and education.||– Online advertising and social media reach a broad audience. – Content marketing educates and attracts users. – Engagement with an open-source community fosters advocacy. – Partnerships and integrations enhance the platform’s ecosystem. – Prioritizes community-driven marketing and education.|
|Organization Structure||GitLab’s organizational structure includes teams dedicated to development, operations, marketing, sales, customer support, and community engagement. Development teams focus on platform enhancements and feature development. Operations teams manage infrastructure and deployment. Marketing teams handle promotional efforts. Sales teams cater to enterprise customers. Customer support teams provide assistance and support. Community engagement teams foster collaboration with the open-source community. This structure supports platform innovation, marketing effectiveness, customer satisfaction, community engagement, and operational efficiency.||Employs specialized teams for development, operations, marketing, sales, customer support, and community engagement. Prioritizes platform enhancements and feature development through development teams. Manages infrastructure and deployment efficiently through operations teams. Handles promotional efforts effectively through marketing teams. Serves enterprise customers through sales teams. Provides customer assistance and support through dedicated teams. Fosters collaboration with the open-source community through community engagement teams. Supports platform innovation, marketing effectiveness, customer satisfaction, community engagement, and operational efficiency.||– Specialized teams drive platform innovation and feature development. – Efficiently manages infrastructure and deployment. – Handles promotional efforts effectively. – Serves enterprise customers with dedicated sales teams. – Provides customer assistance and support. – Fosters collaboration with the open-source community. – Supports platform innovation, marketing, and operational efficiency.|
|Competitive Advantage||GitLab’s competitive advantage lies in its comprehensiveness, collaboration features, automation capabilities, and open-source community support. Comprehensiveness: Offers an all-in-one DevOps platform, reducing the need for multiple tools. Collaboration Features: Facilitates collaboration among cross-functional teams. Automation Capabilities: Provides CI/CD pipelines for efficient software delivery. Open-Source Community: Benefits from an active open-source community that contributes to platform development. Scalability: Scales to accommodate both small teams and large enterprises. GitLab stands out as a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-driven DevOps solution.||Derives a competitive advantage from: – Providing a comprehensive DevOps platform. – Facilitating collaboration among cross-functional teams. – Offering automation capabilities for efficient software delivery. – Engaging with an active open-source community. – Scalability to meet the needs of various organizations. Stands out as a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-driven DevOps solution.||– Offers an all-in-one DevOps platform, reducing tool complexity. – Facilitates collaboration among cross-functional teams. – Provides automation capabilities for efficient software delivery. – Benefits from an active open-source community. – Scales to accommodate various organization sizes. – Stands out as a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-driven DevOps solution.|
GitLab is a web-based, open-source DevOps tool providing issue-tracking and continuous integration and deployment pipeline features.
GitLab was created by Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets, Valery Sizov, and Sytse Sijbrandij as a source code management solution for collaborative software teams. Later iterations saw GitLab evolve to a more integrated solution, covering the entire DevOps lifecycle. Teams can now automate every aspect of this cycle, from planning to creation, build verification, security testing, deployment, and monitoring.
Today, the software incorporates an open-core development model. The core functionality is released under an open-source MIT license, but any additional functionality is subject to a proprietary license.
On October 14, 2021, GitLab IPOed reaching a valuation of almost $15 billion, at its opening!
GitLab mission, vision and value proposition
As the company explains in its financial prospectus:
We believe in an innovative world powered by software. To realize this vision, we pioneered The DevOps Platform, a fundamentally new approach to DevOps consisting of a single codebase and interface with a unified data model. The DevOps Platform allows everyone to contribute to build better software rapidly, efficiently, and securely.:
Therefore GitLab offers a one-stop DevOps platform to handle all software related activities and as the company further explains:
GitLab is The DevOps Platform, a single application that brings together development, operations, IT, security, and business teams to deliver desired business outcomes. Having all teams on a single application with a single interface represents a step change in how organizations plan, build, secure, and deliver software.
Its core, therefore, is to offer a single solution that combines development activities, operations, and security, in what’s defined technically as DevSecOps.
Why does it matter in the first place? DevOps platforms like GitLab are critical to development teams for the following reasons:
- They help handle the full software cycle while reducing its development cycle times (GitLab claims from weeks to minutes).
- It removes manual work.
- And it also embeds security earlier into the development process.
In short, GitLab prevents companies from using do-it-your-self DevOps, thus enabling them to use a single solution, to prevent tools fragmentation and enable continuous updates. Therefore, reducing the development cycle as a result of the above.
In this respect, while a DevOps platform like GitLab provides value to the whole organization, by enabling development teams to release features, and product updates much faster. On the other hand, its main stakeholders, are developers within the organization, and executives like CTOs (chief technology officers) and CIOs (chief information officers).
A fully remote team
Since its inception, GitLab has been a fully remote company, and as of July 2021, it counted 1350 people in over 65 countries. This in turn helps the organization experience the challenges that DevOps teams across the world might have, to enable the platform to grow in that direction.
To make it clear to all how the company operates, over the years it built its own “corporate handbook” that went from a few hundred pages manual to a few thousand pages manual as of 2021:
The handbook itself is managed via the GitLab repository, stating in its opening lines:
GitLab recognizes that the Handbook is a critical part of empowering team members to do their jobs effectively. As such we have implemented a basic on-call process … to ensure that someone is available to assist team members in the event that something is broken in the handbook or if they are having trouble with making updates to it.
Open core business model
As Sid Sijbrandij highlighted back in 2016:
We ship GitLab CE which is open source and GitLab EE that is closed source. We try to be a good steward of the open source project. GitLab EE is proprietary, closed source code but we try to work in a way similar to GitLab CE: the issue tracker is publicly viewable and the EE license allows modifications.
Therefore, in short, the hosted service is open-sourced, while the software is closed:
The hosted service GitHub.com is free for open source projects and it has fundamentally improved open source collaboration. But the software GitHub’s service is based on is closed source.
And he finally remarked:
In conclusion (TLDR), GitLab has an open core business model and ships both open and closed source software. GitHub hosts most open source projects but ships closed source software.
*As a sidenote to better understand this paragraph. Usually, in the digital/tech/software industry, there are open source and closed source players. The closed source is pretty much the old model, where you have proprietary software, owned by a company, which develops and monetizes on top of it. We don’t know what makes up that source code, as it’s fully controlled by the corporation (e.g. Google Search Algorithm, Facebook Social Graph, etc.). Then, you have the open-source organization, which usually builds the codebase (what makes up the core software) as a community effort, or also as the effort of a group of developers and then it releases to the world with an open-source license. The group of people that created the open-source code, usually give its ownership to a non-profit organization, while they also enable a corporation to be built on top of it, to monetize the open-source software, by adding premium/enterprise features (eg. WordPress/Automattic).
Therefore, the open-core business model claims to be an evolution of open source, where it combines funding features typical of startup land (usually open-core companies are venture capital-backed), and it leverages on open source, by offering a limited version of the platform or software, then offering premium features and add-ons as monetization strategies.
GitLab Inc. is a for profit company that balances the need to improve the open source code of GitLab with the need to add source-available features in order to generate income. We have an open core business model and generate almost all our revenue with subscriptions to paid tiers. We recognize that we need to balance the need to generate income and with the needs of the open source project.
How does GitLab balance the open-source model with a proprietary one?
A set of promises are underlined by the company, summarized below
When a feature is open source we won’t move that feature to a paid tier.
We won’t introduce features into the open source codebase with a fixed delay, if a feature is planned to land in both it will be released simultaneously in both.
We will always release and open source all tests that we have for a open source feature.
The open source codebase will have all the features that are essential to running a large ‘forge’ with public and private repositories.
The open source codebase will not contain any artificial limits (repositories, users, size, performance, etc.).
All stages of the DevOps lifecycle (plan, create, verify, package, release, configure, monitor) will have some open source features.
The majority of new features made by GitLab Inc. will be open source.
The product will be available for download from a link above the fold on the desktop homepage without you having to submit an email address or sign in.
We will always allow you to benchmark the performance of GitLab.
We will make our Free tier easily discoverable.
Therefore, this is a sort of practical “Do Not Be Evil Manifesto” from GitLab. Intended as the foundational code of ethics to cooperate in an open source environment.
GitLab in numbers
GitLab revenue generation
The free option is touted as providing a complete DevOps platform, but it does require that users provide their own CI runners and production environment.
For those desiring more functionality, there are two paid options:
- Premium ($19/user/month, billed at $228 annually) – the premium plan provides DevOps with added features including code integrity controls, productivity data, and project management. Disaster recovery and 24/7 support are also offered.
- Ultimate ($99/user/month, billed at $1188 annually) – the Ultimate plan offers full DevSecOps with advanced security testing, compliance, and portfolio management. Teams can also utilize vulnerability management, free guest users, dependency scanning, and 50,000 CI/CD minutes per month.
For users who exceed their CI/CD minutes usage, additional CI minutes can be purchased for $10 per 1,000 minutes. Aside from this one-time payment, Gitlab also allows users to simply upgrade their plan to receive a greater allowance.
For those desiring more storage space, Gitlab offers 10GB for an additional $60. It should be noted that this charge is an annual, recurring subscription regardless of the data used.
GitLab also offers special pricing in the form of a free Ultimate license to eligible:
- Educational institutions, and
- Open-source projects.
GitLab allows its customers to add more users mid-subscription by contacting the company for a customized quote.
The cost of adding extra users is pro-rated from the date of the quote or purchase through to the end of the subscription period.
Alternatively, customers can use the GitLab True-Up model to add additional users. In this case, a company that has grown from 100 to 300 users can renew on a 300-user plan while also paying a full annual fee for the 200 extra users it added.
Who Owns GitLab
- GitLab is a web-based, open-source tool that allows full automation of the entire DevOps lifecycle. It was created by Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets, Valery Sizov, and Sytse Sijbrandij.
- GitLab works on a freemium model backed by two paid subscription plans with greater functionality: Premium and Ultimate.
- Gitlab also makes money through add-on subscriptions, enabling users to purchase additional CI minutes and storage space. Additional users can also be accommodated on a prorated basis or by using the proprietary True-Up system.
Read Next: How Does GitHub Make Money?
Connected Business Model Types
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