Blog Engineering How UBS created their own DevOps platform using GitLab
Published on: August 4, 2021
4 min read

How UBS created their own DevOps platform using GitLab

How GitLab helped power more than a million builds in six months on UBS DevCloud.


UBS, the largest truly global wealth manager, uses GitLab to power DevCloud, a single DevOps platform that allows for a cloud-based, service-oriented, software development lifecycle.

"GitLab is a fundamental part of DevCloud," said Rick Carey, Group Chief Technology Officer at UBS. "We wouldn't be able to have that seamless experience without GitLab. It allowed us to pull ahead of many of our competitors, and break down the barriers between coding, testing, and deployment."

During GitLab Virtual Commit 2021, Rick and Eric Johnson, Chief Technology Officer at GitLab, talked about how building DevCloud on GitLab's DevOps Platform allowed UBS to increase their development velocity, lower their infrastructure costs, and increase collaboration between engineers and non-engineering teams worldwide.

How engineers used DevCloud to collaborate during UBS Hackathon

The annual UBS Hackathon, which typically brings together engineers from around the world in one room, went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UBS did a soft launch of the DevCloud platform during the 2020 Hackathon to have a truly global development and seamless team experience among the more than 500 participants dispersed worldwide.

"It was hard to pick a winner, because nearly every program and team built something absolutely incredible in such a short amount of time," said Rick. "They got so much done that even while chatting with each other, they said, 'I can't believe how easy it is to get this done.'

Once this Hackathon was successful, we knew that we were going to be able to migrate the rest of our engineers to DevCloud."

Open source collaboration benefitted UBS and GitLab

"I must say it's uncommon in my experience to see such a large organization let alone one in such a compliance-driven industry as finance take on such a large project and deliver it on time," Eric said.

Rick attributes part of that success to GitLab's commitment to open source collaboration, which allowed UBS to turn to GitLab team members with questions.

"In an open source model, every time there was a gap, or an issue, or something we just needed your help with, we could reach out to GitLab and say, 'Can we work on this together? Is there a way to improve this?'", said Rick. "That's the value, and that's one of the reasons we went with GitLab."

It wasn't a one-way relationship. Eric said that GitLab learned a lot about compliance and risk processes that are unique to the financial sector by collaborating on open source projects with UBS.

"Collaboration is one of the GitLab's core values – which was key to this project. We set common goals. We're in constant communication, and we're always working together to remove roadblocks. Working with UBS's engineers is a truly agile experience," said Eric.

GitLab forums have a lot of contributions from UBS team members, and both UBS and GitLab are members of open source communities such as the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) and Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

How adopting DevCloud paid off for UBS

One of the key messages for why adopting a single DevOps platform such as GitLab or DevCloud benefits engineering teams is the productivity pay-off – for engineers and non-engineers alike.

Similar to GitLab, which enables simple asynchronous collaboration between team members, DevCloud was built with engineers in mind but so everyone can contribute. Rick said that one of the best pieces of feedback he got on DevCloud was from someone on the business side of UBS, who wanted to do some development projects but struggled with other tools.

"He said, 'Oh, that's DevCloud? I love DevCloud,'" said Rick.

In the roughly six months since UBS launched DevCloud, there have been more than 12,000 users and more than one million successful builds.

What's next?

In June 2021, GitLab acquired machine learning company UnReview which has allowed us to improve our machine learning capabilities as part of our DevOps Platform. Eric said that by practicing applied machine learning, specifically for code review, GitLab should be able to balance review workloads across teams to increase efficiency.

Keeping all the DevOps activities in a single application makes it easier to extract insights throughout the software development lifecycle. By adding machine learning to a DevOps Platform such as GitLab or DevCloud, teams can not only derive data from past activities, but start to predict the future.

"We were very impressed by UBS's development culture," said Eric. "It is very complimentary to our own, and we look forward to our continued partnership."

More of a video person?

This conversation was part of GitLab Virtual Commit 2021. Watch the video below to see the full conversation between Eric and Rick.

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