GitLab platform gets rid of Bronze/Starter tier, melts Gold and Silver into Premium and Ultimate

GitLab subscription change

DevOps platform provider GitLab has revealed controversial changes to its subscription system, which sees the company dropping its Bronze/Starter tier to free up resources, and going for a more consistent naming scheme.

According to GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij, the Bronze/Starter tier wasn’t able to meet the minimum rate of return the company was expecting, suggesting that the price of $4 per user and month couldn’t cover the infrastructure and support cost associated with the offer. “Ending availability of the Bronze/Starter tier will help us accelerate development on customers’ priority needs” Sijbrandij wrote, pointing out usability and enterprise-grade security as beneficiaries of the newly freed resources.

Organisations taking the news as a hint to quickly jump on the Bronze train are out of luck, since the tier can’t be booked by new customers anymore. Existing customers are meanwhile free to stay on the tier and extend it for another year once renewal is due. Seats can still be added at the current price until the end of the current subscription.

There’s also an upgrade plan available, in which switching from Bronze to Premium is free for the first 25 users for now, and once the next renewal date comes around it will be “$6/user/month in Year 1, $9/user/month in Year 2, and $15/user per month in Year 3”.

Given the premium tier’s substantially higher price of $19/user/month, the subscription model change might be a good time to revisit the reasons for choosing Bronze/Starter in the first place and check if deciding capabilities have made their way into the Free tier since.

First feedback on the change mainly took issue with the fact that the higher prices might stop teams from involving non-coders into the development process by giving them access to reporting functionality and such like to keep costs low. Service providers saw themselves in a similar boat, though GitLab representatives promised to look into the use case.

Until that’s figured out, users who can’t stomach the price rise and only went with Bronze because of the Jenkins integration could be well off switching to free, since the company website states that the integration is supposed to get open sourced at some point. Meanwhile those in it mainly for the SaaS runner minutes could check if self-hosting is an option.

With Bronze/Starter gone, GitLab also went ahead and unified the naming between self-managed and as-a-service variants to avoid confusion. From now on there is only a free, a premium, and an ultimate tier, which can be bought in either a self-managed or a SaaS version. Subscribers to the gold or silver tier shouldn’t run into any changes other than the new name. 

Features that are available on self-managed plans only will remain accessible to just those subscribers, while those wondering about the unchanged wording on the pricing page regarding free CI/CD minutes are reminded that this is for SaaS runners only, so no restrictions apply for your own ones.

The news comes just a couple of days after the last big GitLab update, which led to trouble for some users of the GitLab Pages feature. A patch fixing the authorisation settings bug responsible has been made available yesterday.