Jenkins or GitLab – Which is Your Favorite DevOps Tool?

by sagacity

Jenkins or GitLab? What’s more relevant in 2022? Over the past few years, there has invariably been a head-on comparison between these two CI/CD DevOps tools. And to explicitly prefer one over the other, one must dive into their basics.

Jenkins had seen over 155,000 active installations and 1.5 million users across the globe back in 2017. And since Gitlab was launched in 2014, over 30 million users have registered.

CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) is known to be the backbone of DevOps. It automates the entire development process while enabling efficient and rapid delivery. And this is precisely where DevOps CI/CD solutions like Jenkins or Gitlab come to the fore. 

Indeed, their importance is paramount. But how do they weigh against each other? Let’s explore.


What is Jenkins?

A leading open-source DevOps tool, Jenkins helps the developers set up the CI/CD environment using pipelines. And what was it like before a tool like Jenkins? Developers were required to code separate modules and spend a tremendous amount of time integrating them before deploying them into production. Unfavorably, this still did not guarantee successful commits. 

But by using Jenkins, they can now continuously integrate their code post successful testing. This helps with two things: consistent release of code changes to keep the product production-ready and automation of any of the phases within the SDLC. 

Jenkins is especially popular for its plethora of plugins for DevOps. Some popular ones are the Kubernetes, Jira, Docker, and SonarQube plugins.


Pros and Cons of Jenkins

Let’s summarize a few pros and cons of using Jenkins as a DevOps tool.

The Pros:

  • Easy integration with other CI/CD tools or platforms
  • Over 1800 plugins that carry out various tasks in the SDLC, from building and testing to deploying
  • Free, open-source, and platform-independent
  • A vast community of users/developers across the globe for instant support
  • Multiple languages and operating systems support
  • Flexible code deployments and easier debugging


The Cons:

  • Lack of an overall activity tracking mechanism and end-to-end analytics
  • Although free, Jenkins could have hidden costs while hosting the server based on your load or volume
  • It needs a dedicated developer or skilled staff as plugins and secondary tool integrations are often complicated.


What is GitLab?

Gitlab is an open-source CI/CD and a source code management (SCM) tool. Gitlab has an efficient issue-tracking mechanism. Using its Git repository, developers can easily and simultaneously merge and manage multiple projects. This encourages better collaboration within the teams.

Moreover, Gitlab allows for powerful pipeline automation using Auto DevOps. It can auto-detect, build, test, and deploy applications in the configured CI/CD pipeline. Since Gitlab enables automating the whole DevOps cycle for multiple projects, it is quite suitable for medium to large businesses.


Pros and Cons of Gitlab

The Pros:

  • Quick and easy setup or installation
  • Inbuilt issue tracking mechanism and version control
  • Easy integration with other third-party tools
  • Offers source code security and compliance
  • Provides 24/7 support for its users
  • Has disaster recovery as a premium feature to enable fully operational instances


The Cons:

  • The use of a single dashboard for code modifications can be a hassle
  • Offers a limited number of plugins, unlike Jenkins
  • Lack of reports and analytics for pipeline tracking
  • Few users report frequent tool crashes and some bugs that need fixing


Jenkins vs. GitLab: A Features Face-Off Between the Two Best DevOps Tools

User interfaces

Both of these DevOps tools have simple user interfaces. Gitlab is a web-based interface, and Jenkins is an easy browser-based interface. Both allow easy access to several pipelines and ongoing projects.


Customization and extensibility are important aspects of DevOps as they encourage continuous team innovation. That said, Jenkins has several available plugins and lets developers build and integrate new ones. But due to this, the integration can get quite complex as the numbers rise. However, with Gitlab, you only have a limited number of plugins to use, so the complexity is ruled out. 

Installation Requirements

Both tools are easy to install as sufficient documentation and support are available. Jenkins can be configured using a web interface and requires Java as a minimum software requirement. Gitlab requires a Linux server as it is primarily developed for a Linux-based OS.

Pricing Models

For Jenkins, an open-source and free tool, you only pay for hosting services. Contrarily, Gitlab is a freemium tool with three versions – Free, Premium, and Ultimate, each with additional pricing per its features. 

Rest-API Support

Gitlab offers Rest-API calls support, enabling better communication between client and server (projects) data for web-based applications. But Jenkins supports Python, XML, and JSON for extending functionality. 


Gitlab CI/CD is part of Gitlab that you initially install. You can easily develop, design, test, and publish your applications without additional integration. But in Jenkins, you must exclusively set up CI/CD using pipelines for all your projects. Therefore, this configuration needs some level of expertise.


The Final Verdict

The aforementioned pros and cons coherently elucidate that these DevOps tools have their own set of outstanding features and, similarly, bear some limitations. 

Jenkins outshines Gitlab if you are a small to medium-sized company looking for inexpensive options to improve your DevOps. And with exceptional extensibility through its built-in plugins, you can deliver your applications faster.

And Gitlab, with its around-the-clock support and premium features like effort tracking, version control, and integration with other 3rd party tools, is suitable for medium to large businesses with enough manpower and relatively fewer budget constraints.

Planning to use one of these for your DevOps transformation journey? Reach out to our experts at Sagacity to learn more.


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