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Category Direction - Kubernetes Management


The main motivating factor behind using a container orchestration platform is cost reduction. Kubernetes has become the most widely adopted container orchestration platform to run, deploy, and manage applications. Yet, to seamlessly connect application code with the clusters in various environments, has remained a complex task that needs various approaches of CI/CD and Infrastructure as Code.

Our mission is to support the Platform Engineers in enabling developer workflows, to make deployments to every environment frictionless for the developer and reliable for the operator, no matter the experience level. We do this by supporting an integrated experience within GitLab and leverage the existing tools and approaches in the Kubernetes community.

Market overview

Kubernetes is emerging as the de facto standard for container orchestration. Today, Kubernetes runs in half of container environments, and around 90% of containers are orchestrated. (Source).

How can you contribute

Interested in joining the conversation for this category? Please have a look at our global epic where we discuss this topic and can answer any questions you may have or direct your attention to one of the more targeted epics presented below where our focus is today. Your contributions are more than welcome.


By 2023, GitLab is an indispensable addition in the workflow of Kubernetes users by making deployments reliable, frictionless and conventional, and by surfacing in-cluster insights in the form of alerts, metrics and logs in GitLab. As we are primarily focusing on enterprise customers, we want to support highly regulated, air-gapped use cases along with generic, public-cloud based environments.

Target User

We are building GitLab's Kubernetes Management category for the enterprise operators, who are already operating production grade clusters and work hard to remove all the roadblocks that could slow down developers without putting operations at risk. Our secondary persona is the Application Operator, who is in charge of 2nd day operations of deployed applictions in production environments.

Current status

The recommended approach to integrate a Kubernetes cluster with GitLab is via the GitLab Kubernetes Agent.

We have deep, certificate based integrations available for Kubernetes. In this setup, GitLab should be able to access the kubernetes cluster APIs. This requirement is not acceptable in many use cases, especially on SaaS. For this reason, we are focusing on building out various integrations using the GitLab Kubernetes Agent.

Using the GitLab Kubernetes Agent, we want to offer a security oriented, Kubernetes-friendly integration option to Platform Engineers. Beside providing more control for the cluster operator, the agent opens up many new possibilities to make GitLab - cluster integrations easier and deeper. We expect the agent to support various GitLab features with automatic setups and integrations.

Today, the Agent supports the following workflows:

What's next & why

We invite you to share your feedback and join the discussion on the future of our Kubernetes integrations.

Agent availability on

We are rolling out the GitLab Kubernetes Agent to general availability on from the current closed beta. If you would like to get access before GA, please, add a comment to the early-adopters issue.

Secure push based GitOps

Besides pull based workflows, the GitLab Kubernetes Agent opens up the possibility of secure push-based GitOps workflows too. We want to allow access to clusters using the Agent from CI jobs to support existing workflows in a more secure way. This provides an easy migration path to certificate based users.

User interfaces around deployments

The GitLab Kubernetes Agent is the foundational building block of our future Kubernetes integrations, but in its own it comes without features and without user interfaces. This is clearly not what we want, so we are focusing on adding user interfaces to provide administrative, connection-related insights between GitLab and the cluster, and more importantly to provide insights about ongoing deployments and the resources managed by an Agent.

GitLab Managed Applications

Many GitLab features rely on 3rd party applications being available in the user's clusters. We are changing our approach to GitLab Managed Apps to GitLab Integrated Apps where platform operators can bring their own applications and processes, and GitLab can integrate with them to provide its features. As a result, we are moving away from the one click, UI based installation, but we want to support our users to install the required applications if they don't have them installed them already.

At the same time, we do not intend to create a marketplace of apps inside of GitLab, instead we would like to integrate with solutions like OperatorHub. As a result, we are looking at providing apps as GitLab Managed Apps if they satisfy the following criteria:

While we build out an IaC driven approach to GitLab Managed Apps, we are deprecating the existing approach to GitLab Managed Applications in order to provide an experience that fits the above requirements and is more customizable.


A more detailed view into our roadmap is maintained within GitLab.


We see Kubernetes as a platform for delivering containerised software to users. Currently, every company builds their own workflows on top of it. The biggest challenges as we see them are the following:



Kubernetes Management is currently Viable. We want to make it Complete by June 2021.

Competitive landscape

IBM Cloud Native Toolkit

It provides an Open Source Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and complements IBM Cloud Pak solutions. The Cloud Native Toolkit enables application development teams to deliver business value quickly using Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes on IBM Cloud.


Spinnaker is an open-source, multi-cloud continuous delivery platform that helps you release software changes with high velocity and confidence. It provides two core sets of features 1) Application management, and 2) Application deployment.

Backstage with its service registry oriented approach and kubernetes integration provides an umbrella to integrate other DevOps tools and provides some insights required by developers of Kubernetes workloads.

Argo CD

We prefer to think about the Argo CD as a partner as we develop the gitops-engine together. At the same time we have to admit that we expect and want to achieve that many shared GitLab and ArgoCD users will switch to the GitLab Kubernetes Agent for integrating with their cluster.

Analyst landscape

This category doesn't quite fit the "configuration management" area as it relates only to Kubernetes. No analyst area currently defined.

Top Customer Success/Sales issue(s)

Customize Kubernetes namespace per environment for managed clusters

Top user issue(s)

Top internal customer issue(s)

Top Vision Item(s)

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