Jenkins and GitLab are both DevOps mainstays, but even though they’re each CI/CD tools, there are a few key differences.
In this piece, we take a look at those differences, the pros and cons of each service, and the use case of each.
So, let’s get started.
What are Jenkins and GitLab?
Jenkins and GitLab are both third-party DevOps services that allow users to build DevOps pipelines. Both can be used for CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment) though each has other applications with the DevOps pipeline.
If you’re unfamiliar with DevOps, go here for a more thorough explanation.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons.
Pros and cons of Jenkins
Jenkins is an open-source CI/CD tool allowing devs to easily build, test, and deploy code. It’s written entirely in Java and has a great ecosystem of plug-ins.
- Jenkins has a large and active community that provides support and resources. This means that users can easily find help when they need it and can also contribute to the development of the tool
- Building on its open-source nature, Jenkins has a great ecosystem of plugins that can be used to integrate with various tools and technologies. This allows teams to customise their Jenkins setup more easily than they could when using GitLab
- Jenkins supports distributed builds, meaning it can run jobs on multiple machines to improve performance. This is especially useful for on-premise teams working on large projects
- Jenkins has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to set up and configure builds. This means that new teams can pick up Jenkins and run with it more quickly than in the case of GitLab
- Because it’s free and open-source, teams can use Jenkins without incurring any costs. This makes it affordable for smaller teams and more attractive to teams and developers who want to play outside the box a little
- Unlike GitLab, Jenkins lacks a built-in container registry
- Although a rich ecosystem of plugins brings flexibility, Jenkins’ plugin architecture can be inconsistent, which causes compatibility issues in some cases. This means that users may have to spend more time troubleshooting and fixing issues that arise from incompatible plugins
- Jenkins can be more difficult to maintain and monitor than GitLab since it doesn’t have the same built-in monitoring capabilities
- Jenkins doesn’t have as strong security features. This means that teams may have to take extra steps to ensure that their builds are secure and protected from unauthorised access
- Jenkins doesn’t offer the same level of collaboration and project management features as GitLab. This means that teams may have to use other tools to manage their projects and enable collaboration
Pros and cons of GitLab
GitLab is also a CI/CD tool with open-source and source-available (you can see it, but it’s still proprietary) elements.
- GitLab offers a comprehensive suite of features for managing and collaborating on code. This includes support for code review, issue tracking, and continuous integration and deployment – making it easier to manage more sprawling projects
- GitLab strongly focuses on security, with features such as access control, audit logs, and encryption at rest. You can check out the full range here
- GitLab offers seamless integration with other tools and services, such as Docker, Kubernetes, and Slack
- GitLab comes with strong out-of-the-box monitoring features, meaning you have to put fewer resources into making sure your deployments are healthy and responsive
- GitLab gives users a DevOps maturity score, allowing them to easily see how they’re getting on in achieving a modern, robust pipeline
- GitLab can be a little more expensive than Jenkins depending on what you use it for. In the case of very large projects, you could run up a bill
- GitLab’s continuous integration and deployment capabilities – while enough for most – don’t have quite the full range of features and flexibility that Jenkins’ does
- GitLab’s integration with other tools and services can be challenging for organisations with more complex environments
- GitLab also lacks some of Jenkin’s customizability
- GitLab’s self-hosted version requires more technical expertise to set up and maintain, making it less accessible for organisations with limited resources
Jenkins vs. GitLab use cases
Jenkins can be great for:
- Teams looking to try out DevOps without a big investment
- Teams who’re interested in experimentation and open-source projects
- Teams who already have tools or processes to compensate for Jenkins’ weak spots, i.e security and project management
GitLab can be great for:
- Teams working on more complex projects with a lot of management involved
- Teams who have a straightforward, typical project – without a need for experimentation or customization
- Teams in industries where security is a major concern, like healthtech or fintech
How we can help
As a next-gen MSP with a full DevOps as a service offering, we can fill any DevOps gap – from setting up and owning your entire pipeline to providing DevOps engineers out of hours. So to talk about your DevOps project, or anything else, just get in touch.