Dec 17, 2019 - Brein Matturro    

Athlinks cuts runtime in half with GitLab

Athlinks, a time management solution platform, shares how moving from Jenkins to GitLab cut CI runtimes in half.

If you’ve ever run a Spartan race, then you’ve likely used Athlinks, the only suite of time management solutions for a variety of racing events. The Athlinks platform includes race registration, timing, scoring, results – everything from the check-in process to the orange wrist bands worn by participants. The solution stores over 300 million race results at any given time.

DevOps tools run short

The Athlinks DevOps team previously had experience with several Agile planning tools, including Jira, Rally, and VersionOne. All of the tools they tried didn’t exactly fit what the team needed. They were looking for a tool that offers transparency and a voice for other parts of the business. “(We wanted) to give transparency and a voice to what engineering is working on so that other departments can have input into what is going on,” says Christopher Annannie, engineering manager, Athlinks.

Sprinting to GitLab CI from Jenkins

Athlinks started using GitLab CE in 2015, migrating over from GitHub. In January of 2018, the team adopted EE and after doing a GitLab CI proof of concept, they moved to Ultimate and away from Jenkins. “We quickly discovered that we really wanted the full suite of tools for the Agile and the product side, so we went to GitLab Ultimate,” explains Aaron Rorvig, DevOps manager.

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The group previously had about 300 jobs in Jenkins and now are at less than 40. “We use a wide variety of languages and technologies – pretty much every operating system, both Android and iOS. We’re all over the place and we use GitLab CI for all of it,” Aaron says. The team estimates a 50% savings across the board, both in code and in time spent running jobs.

A win for collaboration and communication

Since all of the issues, the code, and CI pipelines are inside of GitLab, it provides a single view from start to finish. Each team can view all the issues and the labeling helps everyone understand what stage each project is in, how much work has been done, and what the next steps are. “GitLab is not necessarily all that opinionated about how you do issue tracking,” Christopher says. Everything can be tracked, even when the teams don’t use the same issue tracking, it can all exist in one place.

The issue templates provide structure for the all departments to understand what they need to fill out. “Engineering will get to it quicker without so much back and forth before a problem is actually solved,” Christopher says.

The communication among the marketing, DevOps and engineering teams is improving. “We’re getting marketing involved in this so we get better about communicating all the new features we’ve deployed this month, so that timers, race directors, and athletes will actually know about the work we’re doing,” Christopher says.

Want to learn more about Athlink’s transition from Jenkins to GitLab? Watch the presentation here:

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Cover image by Ben Stern on Unsplash

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