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GitLab Sets up a Single-Tenant Service on AWS

A single-tenant SaaS, GitLab Dedicated addresses the growing need for more isolated infrastructure in cloud environments.
Jan 3rd, 2023 6:00am by
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DevOps giant GitLab has launched a version of its online code repository as a single-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) on Amazon Web Services.

The service, called GitLab Dedicated, addresses the growing need for more isolated infrastructure in cloud environments. This limited availability release is in exclusive partnership with AWS cloud services. It is hosted and managed by GitLab and can be deployed on an AWS  cloud region of your choice (for most regions).

It’s no surprise to anyone that security and compliance were the top areas of investment for developers, operations, and security leaders, per GitLab’s 2022 Global DevSecOps Survey. AWS’ annual re:Invent user conference last month was rich with talks, SaaS platforms, and offerings for security options. While there is nothing inherently wrong with multitenant SaaS platforms, GitLab Dedicated is for any customer but geared towards customers who need a private space because of highly regulated industries (ie financial or governmental) but don’t want to host on-premises.

GitLab Chief Strategy Officer, Ashley Kramer, sat down with The New Stack for an interview ahead of the launch to discuss the product and exclusivity with AWS.

The Features

GitLab Dedicated includes:

Authentication: Support for instance-level SAML OmniAuth functionality. GitLab Dedicated acts as the service provider, and you must provide the necessary configuration in order for GitLab to communicate with your IP.

Networking: Public connectivity with support for IP Allowlists. Optional private connectivity supported via AWS PrivateLink.

Upgrades: Monthly upgrades tracking one release behind the latest (n-1), with the latest security release. Out-of-band security patches are provided for high-severity releases.

Backups: Regular backups are taken and tested.

Choice of cloud region: Upon onboarding, choose the supported cloud region where you want to deploy your instance.

Security: Data is encrypted at rest and in transit using the latest encryption standards.

Behind the Scenes

GitLab Dedicated took about a year to develop, a timeline that was likely shortened because engineers working on the tech had a starting point with the multitenant software and open source product offerings. “Because of the history of us having these different deployment options already, it was not as big of it’s not like we were just starting from scratch and say later, let’s just go create this,” said Kramer of the early development process.

But don’t mistake having a starting point for an easy development process. GitLab dedicated is still a different product. Even though it builds off of unique elements of both the open source and multitenant options, the new SaaS platform also includes unique components.  “The good news is we already have the self-managed right and we already have a multitenant and so it’s basically just isolating the different components and services as a tenant, that we can go and we can so from that perspective,” Kramer said.

The development process was more than a group of engineers working alone in a vacuum; there was also a customer element. “We have the feedback from the customers that are already self-managing what’s working great and what we can improve on,” Kramer said, confirming that the customer feedback was incorporated into the development process for GitLab Dedicated.

There is still more work ahead because iteration is one of Gitlab’s core values. When asked about the full list of features and customization, Kramer answered, “It’s a challenge to create highly customizable single-tenant SaaS software. The goal right now is to offer GitLab Dedicated to their wide base of customers.”

This alludes to the future roadmap and additional feature rollout. “If you’re going to have a single tenant that can scale to as many customers as needed, you have to have a reference architecture that you stick to. And then over time, more and more customers will want some of those new features, and then you build them in,” Kramer said.

Exclusivity with AWS

Why partner with AWS, when GitLab’s own service is based on the cloud. The short answer is, “we go where the customers are,” said Kramer. AWS and GitLab have been working together for a while so this isn’t a new relationship. “We use AWS for a lot of the things and so it just it seemed to make natural sense and be a fit,” said Kramer. The partnership agreement also came down to customer preferences as “a lot of the things we do comes from customer feedback.”

There is no release date for additional features yet. GitLab dedicated is in limited release.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: The New Stack.
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