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Last updated: 2021-06-22
The Geo-replication category helps distributed developer teams be more productive. With a single GitLab instance working with large repositories can take a long time for developers located in different geographies. Geo-replication provides an easily configurable, read-only mirror (we call it a Geo site) of a GitLab installation that is complete, accurate, verifiable and efficient. This is valuable because using Geo reduces the time it takes to fetch and clone repositories, which increases developer productivity.
Please reach out to Nick Nguyen, Acting Product Manager for the Geo group (Email) if you'd like to provide feedback or ask any questions related to this product category.
This strategy is a work in progress, and everyone can contribute. Please comment and contribute in the linked issues and epics on this page. Sharing your feedback directly on GitLab.com is the best way to contribute to our strategy and vision.
Geo-replication requires a significant investment to be
configured by systems administrators but allows users in different locations to
git read operations. Write requests are transparently proxied to the
primary site. Geo replicates around 83% of the data generated by GitLab and
a number of data types can be disabled if required.
Our goal for Geo-replication is to offer the same experience to users, regardless of their location. In the future, we want our users to be able to configure Geo within minutes - not hours. We envision Geo-replication to be fully transparent to users. This means that a developer should not need to actively decide to use Geo, or select the right Geo site - GitLab should be able to determine what Geo site should be used to provide the best user experience. For systems administrators, it should be simple to add, configure and remove new sites.
For more information on how we use personas and roles at GitLab, please click here.
We need to understand better how software developers interact with secondary sites. As a next step, we are going to track Git operations performed on secondary sites. This data will help us understand usage patterns and how we can improve the overall user experience.
Using a Geo site to overcome UX issues (e.g. latency) requires additional configuration for software developers, which is cumbersome. Using the secondary Web interface is a worse user experience than using the primary. A software developer needs to switch between a primary and secondary frequently, which can be highly confusing and frustrating.
We plan to automatically choose the best Geo site. This means that Geo will forward any requests from a secondary to a primary unless the user experience can be significantly improved by using the secondary. This will likely result in the deprecation of the read-only web interface because requests will be proxied from a secondary to a primary.
We are investigating a proof of concept that would allow Geo to proxy any requests to the primary site unless a secondary site can significantly improve the user experience.
Some customers would like to use their Geo sites for CI/CD. For example, a customer located in Europe and offices in Australia may want certain pipelines to clone from the Australia secondary. Another possible use-case for Geo could be to work as a "mirror" to lower the pressure on the primary site for the automated builds.
Setting up Geo is highly manual and cumbersome, especially in high-availability configurations. In the beginning of 2021, we are going to start investigating how we can simplify Geo's setup - especially for single-node Geo sites.
For Geo-replication only a subset of data may need to be replicated but Geo sites require spinning up the entire GitLab stack, less may be sufficient. Additionally, systems administrators can select a subset via selective sync, but they may be wrong.
We are investigating an advanced caching mode with the following properties:
We are currently not planning on moving away from PostgreSQL as a backend database in favour of e.g CockroachDB or Google Spanner. This has implications for writable Geo site Geo, but for now we will continue to support PostgreSQL.
Geo secondary sites are read-only. Customer feedback has indicated a desire for additional Active active git replication. With the availability of Gitaly Cluster we may start investigating writable Geo sites at some point in FY23.
This category is currently at the
Viable maturity level, and our next maturity
Complete (see our definitions of maturity
You can track the work that will move the category to
The top competitors for Geo-replication are
|Feature||GitHub||AzureDevOps||Bitbucket Smart Mirroring||GitLab|
|Mirror docker registries||❌||N/A||❌||✅|
|LFS and file upload support||✅||N/A||✅||✅|
✅ Fully available ⚠️ Partially available ❌ Not available N/A No information available
We do need to engage with analysts more closely to understand the current landscape better.