The Forrester Wave™: Cloud-Native Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2019

Excerpts from "The Forrester Wave™: Cloud-Native Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2019"

The 10 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up  

September 19, 2019
By Christopher Condo with Christopher Mines , Charles Betz , Abigail Livingston , Andrew Dobak
Source: Gitlab, licensed for distribution

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Key Takeaways

Google, GitLab, Microsoft, AWS, And CircleCI Lead The Pack
Forrester's research uncovered a market in which Google, GitLab, Microsoft, AWS, and CircleCI are Leaders; CloudBees and Atlassian are Strong Performers; Buildkite and Codefresh are Contenders; and Travis CI is a Challenger.

Speed, Scale, And Security Are The Important Differentiators
As organizations transition to continuous delivery (CD) and shift hosting of production workloads to cloud servers, traditional, on-premises continuous integration will no longer suffice. Cloud-native CI products with exceptional build speed, on-demand scale, and secure configurations will lead the market and enable customers to accelerate delivery speed and lower management costs, all while meeting corporate compliance needs.


All organizations, even those in risk-averse industries like financial services, are feeling the need to deliver software faster. As the VP for development tools engineering at a large UK bank put it, "We simply need to go faster; shifting our development processes to the cloud is how we see this happening."

Why now? The tech unicorns — Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix, among others — have demonstrated not only that using cloud development tools delivers software better and faster but also that leveraging this capability enables them to disrupt traditional industries and drive growth. Our recent report " Now Tech: Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2019 " contrasts the various ways of hosting, maintaining, and configuring CI services, from on-premises to cloud, including new hybrid models that combine cloud-native orchestrators with bring-your-own-build servers. For this Forrester Wave™, reference customers enthused about the benefits of a 100% complete cloud solution; one noted, "We've moved our CI processes to the cloud, and we're never looking back." Cloud-native CI is the secret development sauce that enterprises need to be fast, responsive, and ready to take on incumbents and would-be digital disruptors.

Development shops we interviewed cited several important benefits of shifting CI to the cloud:

  • Eliminating CI server maintenance. Reference customers universally called out the time and effort needed to maintain on-premises CI servers as a main driver to shift their CI processes to cloud-native CI tools. As one customer noted, it's not just the cost of maintaining the infrastructure that matters — the server software itself becomes difficult to maintain once it's configured with plug-ins and custom scripts, causing a proliferation of snowflake build-servers. One reference customer explained, "Hosting our own CI server in the cloud isn't enough; it just shifts our problems to the cloud. [Instead], we need to eliminate maintenance altogether, which is why we see cloud-native CI as the best option."
  • Speeding up development. Cloud-native CI tools speed the software development process, reducing the cost of delays on multiple fronts: They offer multiple build-server sizes to optimize build times, elastic scale to take on cyclical demand and reduce queue times, and configuration-as-code to enable teams to create new pipelines as needed rather than waiting for the fulfillment of IT tickets. One reference customer explained that the organization went from waiting weeks for new build pipelines to instantiating them in minutes. Another noted that since switching to cloud-native, the firm gets the scale it needs when it needs it — and pays only for what it uses.
  • Assuring compliance and security. Not many dev shops can claim that their CI server meets FedRAMP or SOC 2 compliance standards. (see endnote 1) In contrast, most of the vendors in this evaluation have multiple compliance certifications, plus role-based access control (RBAC) rules to match enterprise authentication and authorization systems, plus full audit capability to track who made changes and when. CircleCI, Google, and Microsoft offer multiple certifications. AWS goes even further, offering hosted networks that have zero open-internet traffic to ensure that the only traffic within the build environment is the customer's traffic.


The Forrester Wave evaluation highlights Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, and Challengers. It's an assessment of the top vendors in the market and doesn't represent the entire vendor landscape. You'll find more information about this market in our reports on continuous integration tools. (see endnote 2)

We intend this evaluation to be a starting point only and encourage clients to view product evaluations and adapt criteria weightings using the Excel-based vendor comparison tool ( see Figure 1 and see Figure 2 ). Click the link at the beginning of this report on to download the tool.

Figure 1: Forrester Wave™: Cloud-Native Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2019

Figure 2: Forrester Wave™: Cloud-Native Continuous Integration Tools Scorecard, Q3 2019

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