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Consistently green build pipelines due to new testing structure
Reduced toolchain complexity enabling developers to easily contribute across projects
Achieved lightweight maintenance overhead
EAB works with over 1,400 colleges, universities, community colleges, K-12 districts, independent schools, and graduate programs in the country to help keep students enrolled in school.
The company’s flagship Student Success Management System, “Navigate” helps identify at-risk students and allows staff to coordinate a plan for their success. It also helps identify students that wouldn’t traditionally be thought of as at-risk. These students often underperform in their major by avoiding specific classes or by putting their graduation date in jeopardy.
When EAB split from its parent company, they lost the licenses of their existing tools — giving them a chance to build a clean slate. Development teams consolidated tools to simplify their build process. Continuous Integration processes before the split required Bamboo, Jenkins, Solano, and Circle all running at different times and with each team running their own. This situation created unnecessary complexity and added time, it would take six or eight hours to run the build a single-thread one at a time.
“Our build was just red. Like all the time red. Because the feedback loop was so long and the velocity at which people were trying to get stuff merged in was so high, that they basically ignored the build,” Eliza Brock Marcum, CI Lead, EAB.
EAB was looking for a solution for source control and CI that offered very lightweight maintenance overhead. They evaluated GitLab and decided that the monthly release cycle was extremely beneficial and provided the company with the future they were looking for.
“GitLab from my perspective was vastly outpacing the competition in terms of feature releases. GitLab was later to the SCM game in comparison to GitHub or BitBucket, for instance, but with the rate of features being released it was very clear that you guys were gaining so much ground compared to the competition,” Brendan Mannix, Vice President, Engineering, EAB. “It seems like over the long run that GitLab is going to be the right choice for EAB.”
EAB is using on-premises GitLab CI and auto-scaling, which allows the company to have pipeline builds as fast as they want for an affordable price. The perception of the developers, of the quality of the product, has been changing consistently since the introduction of GitLab, and the CI runs passing green on a consistent basis.
Developers are showing energy and enthusiasm when builds pass and are adding useful tests to individual contributions. A year ago, tests were not typically passing. Now that the builds are serving a purpose, people are reviewing them and collaborating more. The general skill level and enthusiasm for testing has improved.
“I really enjoy GitLab. I like the integration. It was easy to set up and it's not too complex or complicated. I could tell you that the most common stickers on our laptop in our offices are GitLab stickers, so all of our engineers like it.”Brendan MannixVice President, Engineering
In large part because of the move to GitLab, EAB was able to get into an appropriate flow. The company now merges approved release branches into master branches by and everything is tested to make sure it is green. There are assigned approvers for merge requests and the company has controls in place on code merges.
Within the first six months of using GitLab, EAB had 888 projects across 80 groups including subgroups as well with 214 users. The company had 18,000 builds, which comes down to almost half a million individual jobs.
“We didn't have the right tools to support a quality first culture in our development group when all of our SCM and CI systems were distributed amongst different groups. Fast forward to now, you know, we are not perfect yet of course. But with GitLab being supported throughout EAB and adopted across our entire development team, we have a first-class SCM/CI service that is easy to start using and supporting a quality first mindset.”Brendan MannixVice President, Engineering