AI cybersecurity tool in collaboration with Google Cloud

Known for its privacy-first approach, GitLab is partnering with Google Cloud to help enterprises to adopt AI-powered solutions.
5 May 2023

Google Cloud and GitLab have announced a partnership, allowing the former to leverage Google’s foundation models to provide customers with AI-powered offerings within its cloud infrastructure.

Not to be confused with GitHub, GitLab is an open core company focused on creating privacy-first solutions that enable enterprises and other highly regulated organizations to adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout the software development cycle.

In fact, despite their similar names, GitLab and GitHub are competitors. GitHub, owned by Microsoft, released an AI offering in late 2021 called Copilot. The AI-assisted coding it provides is something that was met with excitement from developers – however there are security concerns. Copilot has been called too invasive, and it’s allegedly a violation of the rights of the developers on whose open-source code the service is trained.

In contrast, GitLab is trusted by more than 50% of the Fortune 100 to secure and protect their most valuable assets. Leading with a privacy-first approach to AI, its partnership with Google Cloud is expected to deliver secure AI offerings to enterprises.

By leveraging Google Cloud’s customizable foundation models and open generative AI infrastructure, GitLab will provide customers with AI-assisted features directly within the enterprise DevSecOps platform. Theoretically, that means GitLab will be able to maintain its commitment to protecting user privacy by containing customer intellectual property and source code within its own cloud infrastructure.

Can GitLab work with Google Cloud without selling out?

According to Chief Product Officer at GitLab, David DeSanto, “this allows [Gitlab] to harness the power of Google Cloud, while continuing to deliver our privacy-first approach to customer data. We look forward to our continued collaboration, to deliver enterprise-grade AI-assisted functionalities to joint customers.”

DeSanto also said that “[GitLab] can see, end to end, how the data is being sent, responded to and stored, as opposed to other third-party services where it’s more of a black box.”

The first new feature that will join GitLab’s suite of products using Google Cloud’s generative AI models will be “Explain this Vulnerability,” a capability that will let developers understand vulnerabilities in their code by describing the issue in natural language.

Google Cloud allows customers to control their data with enterprise-grade capabilities such as data isolation, data protection, sovereignty, and compliance support. The partnership seems astute for GitLab, a proudly open company, but it’s hard not to wonder what the collaboration will mean in the long term.

If the comparison is again made to GitHub, which is affiliated with Microsoft, it would not be too cynical to assume that perhaps that GitLab, a last bastion of hope for openness, is destined for the same end: morally dubious and not especially functional uses of AI.

It feels like, as start-up companies that provide good services are forced to sell out, AI could be doomed to be the plaything of the same companies that already have a monopoly over the internet.

Or perhaps the language of the GitLab press release is to be believed, and we should “celebrate repeatedly.”

It’s certainly a win for GitLab in terms of recognition. Only time will tell what the real cost of that recognition will be.