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Launchdarkly is a feature delivery and feature management service offering. This means that the service they provide allows their customers to dynamically control when new features (within their application) become available to their end users. Launchdarkly’s service offering represents a tool within the DevOps Toolchain that aligns within the Continuous Delivery (CD) tool category.
Launchdarkly provides a very sophisticated feature management service that enables Development and Operations teams to deliver code faster with minimal risk by using feature flags to deploy code when they want while keeping new features hidden until product and marketing teams are ready to share. Their service allows customers to take full control of feature releases through:
-Fast feature delivery: separating code deployments from feature deliveries
-Incremental changes: controlling feature rollouts into predefined stages and slowly test the functionality within production before confirming it’s safe to proceed to the next step
-Canary launches: rolling features out to a small number of users to assess the reaction of the overall system (also known as Percentage Releases)
-Dynamic feature control: coordinating and delegating release control to other teams in your organization, turning off features when they are causing performance issues or poor user experiences (feature kill switch), and retiring features.
-Automated feature delivery: setup scripts that automatically turn features off/on or adjust a flag’s targeting rules based on metrics from Application Performance Management (APM) tools
-Analytics: providing deep insights across all features and how they are performing with Flag Insights; understanding how the application and team members are using LaunchDarkly.
Launchdarkly is a niche solution that must be overlaid within a customer's existing DevOps Toolchain. Though they do provide more comprehensive feature flag configuration capabilities, they lack:
-A Holistic DevOps Solution: unable to meet customers complete DevOps needs with a single application Toolchain
-Reasonable/Economical pricing: high per-user price point for a single tool (Launchdarkly’s pricing starts at $90/user for their lower tier plan, $390/user for their mid-tier plan and they don't offer a free base tier)
-Industry recognition: no industry recognition by research and advisory bodies such as Gartner and Forrester.
-Meeting/Phone Support: no option to request escalating a technical support inquiry to a troubleshooting call/meeting
Gitlab’s DevOps Toolchain includes feature flags for feature management as Launchdarkly does. Unlike Launchdarkly, Gitlab’s Toolchain offers deeper features/functionalities necessary for quickly delivering high quality applications and services for the entire software lifecycle in a single application. Examples of GitLab features/functionalities that are not offered by Launchdarkly include Source Code Management (SCM), Continuous Integration (CI) and Security Embedded within the DevOps workflow (DevSecOps).
This feature gives you the ability to configure, audit, and manage feature flags for your software directly in the product. Simply create a new feature flag, validate it using the simple API instructions in your software, and you have the ability to control the behavior of your software via the feature flag within GitLab itself. Feature Flag strategies can be set per environment . GitLab Feature Flags includes an API for interacting with them.
Percentage Rollout Strategy for Feature Flags
You can select “Percentage Rollout” as a rollout strategy for your feature flags. Percentage Rollout allows percentages to be set individually for each environment and each flag. When Percentage rollout is configured and the flag is enabled, the feature will be shown to the configured percentage of logged-in users. This allows you to do controlled rollouts, monitoring the behavior of the target environment to ensure the results are as expected.
UserID Rollout Strategy for Feature Flags
You can choose “User ID” as a rollout strategy for your feature flags. The User ID strategy allows you to specify a comma-separated list of User IDs and then toggle a feature flag only for the specified users. This can allow you to target testing features with specific cohorts or segments of your userbase.
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