Why and how GitLab abandoned Microsoft Azure for Google Cloud

 Why and how GitLab abandoned Microsoft Azure for Google Cloud

When companies talk about moving to the cloud, they’re usually bringing their workloads from an on-premises datacenter to a public cloud environment, not switching clouds. But GitLab, a startup that provides developer tools, announced this week that it’s abandoning Microsoft Azure for Google Cloud Platform.

GitLab chose to move because it’s adopting Kubernetes, an open source project initially released by Google that’s designed to help companies manage applications composed of multiple software containers. It’s a move CEO Sid Sijbrandij said the company’s engineers welcomed with open arms. In his view, Google offers superior performance at a better price than other cloud providers.

“Google as a public cloud, they have more experience than the other public cloud providers because they basically made a cloud for themselves,” he said in an interview with VentureBeat. “And you find that in things such as networking, where their network quality is ahead of everyone else. It’s more reliable, it has less jitter, and it’s just really, really impressive how they do that, and we’re happy to start hosting Gitlab.com on that.”

(It’s worth noting that both Amazon and Microsoft tout their experience running large-scale web services as part of their pitches for their cloud platforms.)

The startup gets to use Google Kubernetes Engine, a managed service that’s supposed to simplify operating a Kubernetes cluster, as part of the migration. Sijbrandij said GKE’s near-immediate adoption of the latest open source release of the orchestration tool made it the most attractive offering on the market, despite other cloud platforms offering their own tools.

There are two components to the migration. First, GitLab will be shifting its existing codebase to Google Cloud Platform, and will then reconfigure its applications to work with Kubernetes and GKE. The company is also making other transformative changes aimed at modernizing GitLab’s architecture, like moving what data they can into object storage.

The migration also allows GitLab to stress-test its own tools. Sijbrandij said the company is using its Geo product, which enables companies to create a replica of a GitLab instance, to migrate the data. Right now, the company is mirroring its data between Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and engineers will direct users to the new instance in the near future.

Transforming GitLab’s infrastructure could also provide useful information to the company’s customers about how they can change their applications to take advantage of modern development practices like the use of containers.

Beyond the implications for GitLab, this announcement shows the power of Kubernetes. Developers using it to build multi-container applications don’t have to worry as much about the underlying infrastructure that their code runs on, which should make it easier to migrate between server environments. Google’s origination and adoption of the technology could make its cloud more attractive than the competition.

In addition to migrating its software, GitLab is also integrating its offering with Google Kubernetes Engine to simplify customers’ deployment of code to the managed service.

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