Microtica vs. GitLab CI | What Are the Differences?

Microtica and GitLab CI both have the goal to efficiently and reliably deliver software in the cloud. Although both tools have similar features, the differences between the core concepts are significant. That's why it's difficult to make a Microtica vs. GitLab CI comparison. However, we'll try to do it.

GitLab CI is GitLab's tool for software development that uses continuous methodologies like Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and Continuous Deployment (CD).

Microtica is a low-code DevOps automation platform that enables companies and individuals to adopt cloud much faster. Microtica does that by standardizing the way we develop and release infrastructure and applications in the cloud.

Microtica vs. GitLab CI - Overview

The most significant difference in the Microtica vs. GitLab CI comparison is that Microtica is focused on abstracting complex cloud and Kubernetes integrations supported natively in the platform. At the same time, it provides all core features for optimal CI and CD.

On the other hand, GitLab CI/CD requires the use of additional provisioning tools, and you need to write most of the scripts manually to achieve the same you can do with Microtica. 

Another disadvantage with GitLab CI is that it has native support only for its own repos. If your source code is located somewhere else you need to import it into GitLab or build a custom integration.

It also doesn’t offer native integration with cloud providers and Kubernetes. For example, if you want to deploy infrastructure and applications on AWS or Azure, you need to know the specifics of how those cloud providers work. Moreover, you need to have a great understanding of their APIs and what are the limitations.

Microtica abstracts many complex integrations, manual configurations, infrastructure, and application delivery processes in the cloud. At the same time, it gives customers flexibility for customization. 

Let's dive deeper into the differences between the two CI/CD solutions.

Microtica vs. GitLab CI - Comparison

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GitLab’s Deploy Boards offer a consolidated view of the current health and status of each CI environment running on Kubernetes.This does not limit developers to write their own custom cloud infrastructure and applications, instead, guides them to quickly start working in the cloud in a standardized way.Native support for different Git providers- Unexpected errors appear all the time. Experienced engineers can probably fix them but that would defeat the whole purpose of Auto DevOps.FeatureWhile GitLab has multi-project pipelines that give you a view across projects, each pipeline definition lives in a YAML file tied to a specific project. Today, GitLab lacks the ability to define multiple pipelines in a single YAML file- BitBucket2. To increase deployment confidenceThe core concept in GitLab is a Git repository. GitLab does not support semantical specification of what certain repository contains, what it supports, how it should be validated during deployment etc. Because of this, combining multiple repositories to deliver complex infrastructure is rather complex and unpredictable.GitLab supports the creation of temporary environments.If your source code is located somewhere else you need to import it into GitLab or build custom integration.Microtica offers ready-to-use components for Kubernetes clusters on AWS with scaling enabled by default. Tested intensively in production environments.Since every customer has specific requirements for architecture, scaling, and deployment strategies, we’ve made our Kubernetes components flexible for change to accommodate those needs, compared to GitLab where they do not provide support for custom solutions.1. Configure GitLab Runner with the Docker or Kubernetes executor3. Ensure Kubernetes annotations are applied to the deployments, replica sets, pods, etc.- Doesn't work the same for all programming languages.Everything created in one step is automatically shared with the next steps without any additional configuration.It’s not obvious what certain Git repositories require to deliver them in the cloud. 3. Automatic annotations and detection of services deployed by MicroticaStatus monitoring for Kubernetes applications and logs are available only with the most expensive plan.MicroticaVery nice idea but still considered as a highly unpredictable (unreliable) feature. Some problems occur using this feature:Native support for advanced deployment validation 2. Application deployment, health status monitoring, and logs directly from Microtica Kubernetes DashboardAdd your existing Kubernetes cluster to your project, and easily access it from your CI/CD pipelines to host Review Apps and to deploy your application.This feature brings a lot of value especially in case a certain resource is to be removed with the deployment (e.g. production database).Deploying on KubernetesTemporary environments are only per repository and not on the whole infrastructure setup. In Microtica you can add your existing Kubernetes clusters provisioned on AWS, Azure, GCP or on-premises and easily configure CI/CD pipelines and Kubernetes monitoring of your applications.Container RegistryYou do the entire life-cycle management of Kubernetes applications from one place, with no need for additional tools or configuration.2. Configure the Kubernetes service in your project for the clusterTransactional infrastructure deployments1. To prevent failed deployments instead of fixing them in production Standardization covers:A possible use case would be a temporary production-like environment for performance tests.Artifacts are downloaded and uploaded on each job execution that references the artifacts which slows down the whole pipeline.You can specify a retry keyword in your .gitlab-ci.yml file to make GitLab CI/CD retry a job for a specific number of times before marking it as failed.To transfer state between pipeline jobs in GitLab CI you need to explicitly define and reference artifacts/cache between steps.Could be suitable for small starter projects but cannot work in all possible cases.GitLab and other providers are in our roadmapIf something fails during deployment, it's the developer’s job to define a rollback strategy within the pipeline or do it manually.This feature was not implemented in Microtica intentionally, at least for now. We did this to avoid a lot of problems in the software delivery when customers expect full automation but they only end up fixing problems in the pipeline caused by Auto DevOps.Microtica uses AWS ECR as a container registry. For privacy and security reasons we do not store any container images on our cloud accounts Instead, all images are stored in customer’s private cloud accounts (currently AWS). The customer has full access control.Out-of-the-box support for transferring state between pipeline stepsDeclare pipelines in source code microtica.yamlTo make this feature work properly you need to do a lot of manual work, which could take a lot of time especially for cases with a lot of applications (microservices):Infrastructure and application frameworkMicrotica uses Docker volumes to share state between steps which dramatically reduces the delay overhead.Auto DevOpsGitLab Container Registry is a secure and private registry for Docker images. It allows easy image upload and download from GitLab CI. It's fully integrated with Git repository management.Environment replicationDeclarative pipelinesmeans that if during deployment something fails, the automated roll-back procedure will take place and return the environment in the previous successful state. Especially important for a production environment where keeping the system always up and running is a must.Compared with GitLab, Microtica offers replication of the entire environment, not just per repository bases.Kubernetes InfrastructureFor SaaS configuration, container images are stored on GitLab premises.Microtica validates the configuration of infrastructures and applications before each deployment. The validation rules are defined by the owner and Microtica executes them without exception.Deployment plan Create a copy of the entire environment infrastructure with one click, without having to reconfigure the whole cloud infrastructure.Define multiple pipelines per repoAutomatic retry for failed CI jobsMicrotica provides native support for:Enables developers to review changes that are about to happen before deployment for full transparency.- GitHubTransactional Provides native support for AWS cloud integration. No need for custom scripts to deploy infrastructure in the cloud. Microtica integrates with AWS CloudFormation using best practices for cloud infrastructure setup.In Microtica you can define multiple pipelines per Git repository.Microtica currently does not support automatic retry of CI pipelines.- Each piece of infra/app should define its own schema for validation during deploymentDefine complex cloud infrastructure combining multiple Git repositories and orchestrate transactional deployment.Microtica supports native integration with the following VCSs:Validation and schema are really important for the following reasons:The integration for each cloud provider should be defined manually by the DevOps engineer using custom CI/CD pipelines.- Each piece of infra/app should define the build procedure in the source code along with the app or infrastructure specificationIn GitLab, every repository has its own lifecycle from a delivery point of view. Orchestrating the delivery of cloud infrastructure from multiple repositories is rather complex, unpredictable, and sometimes not possible.Create a Kubernetes cluster on AWS.GitLab doesn't natively support the validation of the input data during deployment. To achieve this, you would need to write a custom validation logic for the same value.GitLab has native support only for its own repos. Kubernetes applications are first-class citizens here. You don't need additional configuration to deploy application/service in Kubernetes cluster. 1. Complete setup of Kubernetes infrastructureMicrotica provides a framework for writing standardized cloud infrastructures and applications across the organization. Declare pipelines in source code .gitlab-ci.ymlGitLabEasy integration of existing Kubernetes clustersMuch easier for other team members to pick up and use infrastructure/application written by other teams/team membersNative support for other cloud providers like Azure and GCP is in our roadmap.Native support for Cloud providers
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Conclusion

Microtica doesn’t require expert knowledge to set up proper delivery automation in the cloud. The complexity is already solved. It also offers fully-integrated production-ready Kubernetes with just a few clicks. The deployment and monitoring of the applications happen within the app. Microtica can work with all popular Git providers and can support additional providers easily.

Both Microtica and GitLab CI have a similar purpose: delivering software efficiently and reliably in the cloud. In the end, the tools we choose to work with really depends on our specific needs and what we want to accomplish.

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