Don’t miss out 2019: Jenkins is not the best Continuous Integration solution any more

Bassel Xib
Mar 10 · 4 min read

Introduction

Continuous integration has become the de-facto requirement for success in complex software projects nowadays, especially very crucial for projects with multiple stakeholders, distributed teams and developers in different time zones working together on the same project.

image by exoscale.com

By definition, CI is the practice of merging code of different developers continuously and automatically building, testing, Integrating and reporting the results to developers for immediate fixes to avoid later “integration hell” which saves a tremendous amount of time, efforts and costs.

The Comparison

We have done a quick scan of the top 10 providers of CI solutions including GitLab, Microsoft, CircleCI, CloudBees, Codeship, AWS, Travis CI, JetBrains, Atlassian and IBM and it wasn’t so hard to conclude that these are the 4 leaders in this market.

Gitlab and Microsoft sit at the top as the leaders offering the most complete suite with the most affordable/free options. Also they are ranked the top two by in Q3 2017.

The below table lists the top 4 options with one on one comparison based on 10 factors, the licensing and hosting models, the cost, ease of use, CI features and Forrester research ranking.

#1 Gitlab

Image result for gitlab

Gitlab is the second most popular open-source repository hosting provider after Github, and it offers integrated powerful CI pipelines which makes your life easier when using the same platform for code hosting and continuous integration.

Gitlab won the first place in Forrester wave report with its one stop shop offering including its pricing model, ease of use, built in issue tracking and agile process management. It’s worth to note that Gitlab has seen a surge in popularity after Microsoft’s acquisition of Github back in October last year, the number of projects migrated was increased by 10x over the previous quarter of 2018.

#2 Microsoft Azure DevOps

Microsoft is widely known as being “developer friendly” when it comes to building developer tools including the very popular .NET framework, Visual Studio and Azure cloud services.

Azure DevOps, Formerly known as visual studio team services, offers a complete package for software development lifecycle management, repository hosting, software testing and continuous integration.

But most open-source developers refrain from using its repo-hosting service for their projects due to Microsoft’s ancient proprietary history, despite that we have seen a paradigm shift in Microsoft’s strategies in the last decade towards open-source and now after it has closed the deal with Github, the software giant could seriously become the top service provider for software cloud services and CI tools worth considering.

#3 CircleCI

CircleCI is the name of the company and the solution, founded in 2011 and completely focuses on continuous integration tools, they offer free entry plans for private and public repositories and then a container based pricing model.

The service is one of the easiest to use for developers and comes with first class docker container support but they don’t support Gitlab integration out of the box

Conclusions:

  • There’s always no one tool fits all decision, but this study could give you an overview of the best options out there and hopefully saves you sometime researching.
  • Personally I would go for Gitlab as their feature set is comprehensive, their code repository hosting service is so popular and the solution is open-source.
  • Jenkins remains the most popular in production still in 2019 but companies are looking for more SaaS based alternative models that are easier to use.

Let us know what are your favorite CI tools and your recommendations.

Bassel Xib

Written by

Software Architect, Decentralization advocate, Blockchain & Bitcoin enthusiast