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GitLab Beefs up its Enterprise Edition, Supports Git LFS

GitLab, the company behind the open source code collaboration platform of the same name, has released a new version of one of its Git-based offerings with some additional enterprise muscle, and the company is using the occasion to throw stats at the press like ninja stars in a Kung Fu movie.

GitLab Enterprise Edition (GitLab EE) is an on-premises solution for Git hosted repositories. The newest version, GitLab EE 8.2, comes with a fairly long list of features targeting organizations with more than 100 users. Among the upgrades in this release is the addition of repository mirroring, which allows users to set up a project to automatically have its branches, tags, and commits updated from an upstream repository. GitLab EE is offered on a subscription basis, but the company also provides a free Community Edition, on which GitLab EE is built. GitLab.com is the company's free SaaS offering.

GitLab is also touting new support for Git Large File Storage (LFS) in GitLab.com and both its Enterprise and Community editions. Git LFS is an open source Git extension that replaces large binary files, such as audio, video, and graphics, with text pointers inside the Git repository; the actual file contents are stored on a remote server. GitHub, that other code-hosting site, announced Git LFS in April.

Sytse "Sid" Sijbrandij, the current CEO, believes that GitLab is offering the first open source production implementation of Git LFS.

The company was founded in 2013 by Sijbrandij, who is a Dutch software developer, and Ukrainian developer Dmitriy Zaporozhets, who created the platform. Back in 2011, Zaporozhets was working for a large software consultancy with 200 people who were struggling to collaborate across projects, Sijbrandij told me. The company required that any collaboration software be on-premises, but Zaporozhets couldn't find a solution he liked.

"So, he did what programmers do," Sijbrandij said, "and coded something himself, and then he open sourced it. Within a year, about 800 contributors had been attracted to the GitLab project. We didn't know each other at that time, but I e-mailed him and said that I would like to commercialize what he had developed, and asked if he would be okay with that, and with me not paying him a cent. He said, sure, go for it."

Zaporozhets later tweeted that he wanted to work on GitLab full time, and Sijbrandij went to the Western Union office to wire him some money. "He was in the Ukraine at the time," he recalled, "and the person behind the counter asked me, 'Do you know this person or is it someone you met over the Internet?' She was worried that I was being scammed."

A year later, a company was born. Sijbrandij and Zaporozhets had become friends, but the two co-founders only started working together directly at the beginning of this year.

The startup emerged from the Silicon Valley's Y Combinator accelerator program this summer and promptly raised $1.5 million in seed money. And it announced a $4 million Series A funding from Khosla Ventures in September. The company has grown from 8 employees to 34, and today competes with the much better known GitHub, and with Atlassian's BitBucket.

In October, the company entered into a partnership with SCM provider Perforce Software to create Helix GitSwarm, that company's new Git management platform.

Sijbrandij believes that GitLab is the most used code collaboration platform on premises. The company claims that more than 100,000 organizations are currently using it; that there have been more than 1 million downloads of GitLab to date; and that nearly 30 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the platform. The company currently counts IBM, NASA, Alibaba, CERN, Expedia and SpaceX, among its users.

Since I spoke with Sijbrandij, the company issued a security update, GitLab 8.2.1, and is advising users who installed GitLab 8.2 to upgrade immediately.

A complete list of new features in GitLab 8.2 is available on the company's blog page.

Posted by John K. Waters on December 2, 2015