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Businesses have regulatory standards they must adhere to as well as internal policies. These policies are designed to minimize risk, maximize product quality, and protect end-users. Historically, ensuring that these policies are reflected and followed daily was challenging. Many times compliance teams, development teams, and others all worked separately, which made it difficult to reconcile all the various requirements that these external and internal standards imposed.
The goal of Compliance Management is to enable organizations to define and enforce policies to help them meet their regulatory and business requirements. Compliance with GitLab should happen within GitLab and in the workflows that teams already are using. Keeping compliance within GitLab, rather than other tools, enables everyone to contribute and allows compliance to be a collaborative, rather than a confrontational, activity. Compliance Management helps ensure everyone can use GitLab to effectively develop, deploy, and manage applications inside of GitLab while still meeting their compliance requirements.
This category focuses on enabling compliance professionals to easily view compliance data for groups and projects, define policies to meet business requirements, and optionally enforce workflow steps to meet those requirements. A key goal of the category is ensuring that compliance features do not negatively affect non-compliant teams.
GitLab frequently gets asked for an "easy button" for compliance. Users want to be able to flip a switch an be compliant with SOX, GDPR, and other standards immediately. Unfortunately, this is not possible for any vendor to provide. Meeting a compliance standard depends on the unique characteristics of a business and what the business's auditors want to see. For example, an eCommerce site will have different auditing needs and required controls than a financial institution, even if both are working on meeting a similar compliance standard.
GitLab recognizes that each of our users have these unique needs and so Compliance Management provides a collection of controls, settings, and workflow enforcements that we dub the "Compliance Toolbox." While no one control is enough to pass a specific audit, using the different individual capabilities in GitLab, an organization can compose and build the controls and workflows they need to meet their own unique requirements to pass an audit. This approach is also beneficial because it allows organizations to opt-in to more and more controls over time, rather than having to immediately enable every control at once.
The Compliance Dashboard continues to evolve to meet the needs of our customers managing their compliance programs. Our goal is to ensure this dashboard can answer as many questions as possible, saving you the time and effort of digging through individual projects. We want to surface all of the key compliance signals (e.g. segregation of duties, pipelines and project security grades) for you throughout a group so you can immediately, and more efficiently, hone in on the areas that actually require attention.
This dashboard currently focuses on the most recent merged MR and we'll be pivoting to focus on the broader concept of change management. As we focus on compliance management, we want to build features and experiences that enable you to monitor your GitLab compliance posture much easier, saving you time and headache from doing things the traditional way.
The Compliance Dashboard should be the "one-stop shop" for everything compliance teams need to focus their efforts and save time. The more questions we can answer within this dashboard, the less time teams have to spend digging through logs, projects, settings, and other areas.
We will also focus on bringing the credential inventory to GitLab.com to allow managing the credentials that are in use in different groups and projects. This will help group owners to meet compliance requirements and minimize the chance of any credentials being used inappropriately.
Adding coverage for projects to the compliance dashboard means leveraging project compliance framework labels to designate the regulated projects we should track. Currently, the compliance dashboard reports on all recently merged MRs from every project, including unregulated projects. Iterating towards our vision to reduce the complexity and time required of compliance management in GitLab means reducing the total scope of projects you need to monitor in the first place. For those organizations that need only monitor specific, regulated projects, we can surface specific insights about these projects based on your feedback.
In the GitLab 14.8 release we extended the functionality of the Compliance Framework Pipelines feature that we recently released by adding support for parent/child pipelines. We plan to continue to improve the Compliance Framework Pipelines feature in the GitLab 14.9 release by allowing users to set Compliance Framework Pipelines to run even when a child project does not contain a
Additionally, in the GitLab 14.9 release we plan to allow users to respond to an external status check with a failed response.
Next, for the 14.10 release, we are finishing work done for the last several milestones to improve the usability of the Compliance Report. This includes giving users the ability to sort, filter, and view the details of the merge request violations displayed there.
Compliance Management is currently in the viable state. You can read more about GitLab's maturity framework here, including an approximate timeline.
Achieving a complete level of maturity will involve collecting customer feedback and evolving the Compliance Dashboard further and ensuring a more complete coverage of group-level and instance-level compliance controls that enable you to confidently and effectively manage the compliance posture of your GitLab environment. Assuming we're on the right track, we'll continue to focus on these areas:
Finally, once we've achieved a rule set that's sufficiently flexible and powerful for enterprises, it's not enough to be able to define these rules - we should be able to measure and confirm that they're being adhered to. Achieving Lovable maturity likely means further expansion of the two dimensions above, plus visualizing/reporting on the state of Compliance Management across the instance.
We'll know we're on the right track with Compliance Management based on the following metrics:
According to the Worldwide Governance, Risk, and Compliance Software Forecast, 2020–2024, the worldwide GRC software market is expected to grow by an average of 4.2% over the next five years to $12.8 Bn in 2024 (Source: IDC DOC #US45856620, SEP 3, 2020). While GitLab does not fit perfectly into the GRC software market, the Compliance group at GitLab aims to build out the features and experiences necessary to provide the same value as these companies and services. Extending the functionality of GitLab to simplify GRC related activities will allow our customers to save time and effort on defining policies, capturing relevant audit data, reporting on the compliance status of their systems and resources, and automating SDLC compliance tasks.
Further strengthening GitLab's position for this opportunity is our inherent design for both a public SaaS option as well as an on-premise/self-managed solution. Providing both options allows us to capture more of this market share, particularly within organizations where public SaaS is not an option due to stricter requirements around air-gapped networks or multi-tenant SaaS solutions.
Even by conservative estimations, if GitLab can capture even 1% of this market, that is $128 MM in revenue that could be captured by building first-class experiences for governance, risk and compliance. By focusing on the themes discussed on this direction page, we believe it's possible to capture portions of this market while ensuring our customers benefit from the time and cost savings of having native GRC capabilities within the GitLab application.
Microsoft Compliance Manager is the most direct competition with this category and our vision for the future. The Compliance Dashboard is moving in this direction, but there are some key differences in each. Microsoft's Compliance Manager provides pre-built assessments for various compliance frameworks or certifications, introduces workflows to complete those assessments or risk assessments, offers "improvement actions" to improve an organization's compliance posture, and generates a compliance score.
After review, our impressions are:
There's an interesting, and valuable, feature that shows Microsoft-managed controls versus customer-owned and shared controls. This would be helpful for identifying where Microsoft needs to take ownership to deliver the controls a customer inherently needs in their service provider.
Microsoft seems focused on building out a comprehensive, natively connected compliance center which is a massive undertaking and commits to a full-on GRC application within Microsoft 365. There doesn't seem to be a specific focus on DevOps, which suggests there's an opportunity for GitLab to provide this focus and supplement other GRC tools that seem to follow a similar pattern.
The feedback we've received about this category has been supportive of our direction to save compliance professionals time and make compliance tasks easier. While there are companies and applications that exist as holistic GRC solutions, GitLab is well-positioned to make a lot of the compliance process easier and automated by enabling customers to leverage the data they're already generating in their usage of GitLab.
We spoken with some analysts about the
Compliance Management direction and here's what they said:
What this means for our direction: The analysts feedback we received is closely aligned with our current direction. The biggest deviation is the emphasis, from analysts, on incorporating compliance data into Value Stream Management. This is not something we're actively pursuing and will re-evaluate. We are currently pursuing some issues, such as a Change Management that will provide some of this data to our customers in the interim.
We've validated most of this feedback directly with customers through our day-to-day work on existing issues and we do not anticipate a significant deviation of our direction for the
Compliance Management category. We will continue to invest in the issues that allow our customers to automate their auditing and compliance requirements, connect their proprietary systems to GitLab, and find the right data in the right places for Cameron (Compliance Manager).