Self-Hosted vs. Fully Managed: Which CI/CD Solution is Right for Your Organization?

Self-hosted platforms have been around for a long time but fully managed solutions are the future. Learn the differences between self-hosted and fully managed to help you make the right decision for your organization.

Deciding which CI/CD solution is right for your organization can be hard and making the switch from self-hosted to fully managed can be overwhelming. Self-hosted gives you the control to customize your solution but fully managed ensures you can scale innovatively whilst solution providers manage tedious updates. With a fully managed CI/CD solution, developer time can be spent creating new features instead of firefighting with a solution that needs constant manual updates. 

Self-hosted vs Fully Managed

What is the difference between self-hosted and fully managed? Self-hosted is exactly that: you implement and maintain your own CI environment and infrastructure. The alternative? Fully managed comes with everything, including managed infrastructure, tooling & dependencies, stack updates, fully managed hosting, and much more. For this post, when we talk about self-hosting we are talking about either on-premise hosting or cloud hosting which is managed by your organization. On-premise, being the oldest deployment method. 

Self-hosted vs. fully managed solutions have significant differences - each with advantages and disadvantages. It's important to know which solution is right for your organization and not buy into marketing spin.

Benefits of self-hosted CI/CD

Control and Ownership

Self-hosted CI/CD solutions have always been advertised to give you full control over your configuration, customization and data management. This control allows you to tailor your solution to your organization's needs - this customization means valuable developer time is being spent on solution customization instead of app deployment and new feature innovation.

Security and Availability

When you manage the hosting yourself, you have full control over the configuration and security protocols you put in place. You have the full ability to implement robust security measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular updates. A process which will have to be managed internally by your organization.

One-off Payment Model

Most self-hosted solutions only require your organization to pay a one-off installation fee which sometimes suits your organization's cash-flow structure. But, where this payment model becomes a burden, is when your organization needs to scale and ensure their solution is up to date. Scaling on self-hosted can become expensive with hidden costs further down the line.

Benefits of fully managed CI/CD

Low Maintenance

Bitrise surveyed 900+ mobile DevOps practitioners and found that 65% of respondents said they either ‘enjoyed their job more’ or were ‘much happier at their job’ after switching from being responsible for maintaining a generic CI/CD (usually self-hosted) to a fully managed, mobile-first CI/CD platform. The biggest shift they found when they moved from self-hosted to fully managed? Less firefighting and manual updates. 

Lower Costs

Pay for what you use, not up-front, cost-heavy hardware that needs to be manually updated by niche developers who are specifically specialized in self-hosted platform maintenance. According to ZK Research, migrating to a SaaS solution saves companies an average of 30% to 40% over five years.

Scale with Ease

With self-hosting, scaling power is almost impossible. Hardware costs, developer experience silo’s and slow development mean your organization is always going to be stuck with an out-of-date platform. With a flexible, fully-managed solution like Bitrise, you can scale up or down cloud resources whenever you need to and only pay for what you use. 

Integration Power

In the same study mentioned above: ‘Mobile-specific integrations are maintained and updated by the CI provider’ was named as the number one advantage of a mobile-focused, cloud-based solution.

🔥 One of the biggest reasons the world’s most trusted apps choose Bitrise, is for their library of Steps: over 350+ open-source Integrations.

Built-in Security

It’s 2023, platform providers take security extremely seriously. Self-hosted used to be known as the most secure method of deployment, but these days, fully-managed platforms will have every security and data protection feature any modern day app could need: multiple redundant server sites to ensure reliability during peak times, a robust disaster recovery plan, SOC2, GDPR and a platform that is constantly updated. They also usually have a dedicated security and data protection team which are in place to ensure security protocol is always up-to-date.

Access Anywhere, Anytime

True, cloud-based CI/CD solutions can be accessed from anywhere at anytime - using only an internet connection on any device. The world adapted when Covid hit, and those that could only access their solution through specific computers and hardware were hit the worst. The world has truly shifted to remote working and although we are seeing pockets where companies are trying to introduce hybrid working, for the most part, the majority of app and tech businesses will remain mainly remote.

Mobile-first Matters

According to Data.ai’s ‘State of Mobile 2023’ report there was an 11% year-on-year growth of new app downloads, totaling a staggering 255 billion. Their data showed that users spend an average of 5 hours a day on their mobile which is a third of our daily waking hours. What does this show? Mobile is big business - having a fully managed CI/CD solution that’s mobile-first, matters. 

After all, Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for companies in the top 25% of developer velocity outperforms others in the market by five times (McKinsey, 2023). The app landscape is competitive and differentiation is key. Here are a number of factors that contribute to developer velocity:

  • A focus on innovation: Instead of firefighting and maintenance development, developers who focus on new features and in-app innovation are more likely to outperform those whose focus is to maintain and ensure a solution is up to date.
  • Developer Experience (DevX): The ability to attract and retain talented developers greatly increases a team’s developer velocity. Most talented developers would rather focus their time on innovation and not firefighting unreliable self-hosted CI/CD systems.
  • Platform Speed and Performance: One of the most common challenges we hear from developers is the time they have to wait in order for a release or deployment to go out. Slow systems and out-of-date platforms lead to poor developer velocity.

Choosing a CI/CD Solution that’s Right for Your Organization

Self-hosting might mean more control, but it also means more technical work and firefighting. Fully managed CI/CD platforms like Bitrise, are easy to set-up, maintain and ensure you can release your apps with confidence.

Switching to a fully managed CI/CD platform ensures that as a developer, you have speed and agility (faster release times and maintained & managed integrations), automation (a platform to easily build and improve automation) and a reliable platform that was built for mobile needs specifically (updated and maintained stack updates). 

Why Bitrise?

Bitrise empowers mobile development teams with a mobile-first, fully managed CI/CD solution that simplifies workflows, reduces maintenance, and accelerates app delivery, whereas self-hosting with tools like Jenkins, though flexible, introduces hidden costs and demands significant configuration and infrastructure management.

Considering the switch to a more mobile-focused CI platform? Download our datasheet to learn how switching to Bitrise’s mobile-focused CI platform can ensure your developers are spending less time firefighting and more time speeding up builds, releases and testing.

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