Autoscaling build servers with Gitlab CI

autoscaling builds

I’ve been using Gitlab CI for a while now and until certain point it worked really well. We had three build servers (GitLab runners) in the beginning, and when number of teammates or build steps and therefore commits and build jobs increased, I’d just add one more server to handle an extra load and felt that problem was solved.

Not for long. When number of servers climbed to more than ten, it became obvious that simply adding servers one by one doesn’t work anymore. It was both expensive to have all of them running all the time and it still wasn’t enough to handle occasional spikes of commits. Not to mention that during the nights and weekends those servers were doing absolutely nothing.

The whole thing needs to be dynamic and fortunately GitLab CI supports autoscaling out of the box. Documentation is a little bit confusing but in reality it’s very easy to get started. So here’s the plan: let’s try it!

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