As enterprises move to ditch more of their physical infrastructure, it makes sense for GitHub to offer products aligned with the trend. But don't take this as a sign GitHub is preparing to dump its bare-metal setup and move to Amazon itself anytime soon.
Brian Doll, GitHub's VP of Strategy, described the new Amazon-hosted version of GitHub as part of the company's "big story arc" -- one that started with GitHub as a SaaS service, but soon evolved, thanks to customer pressure.
"Several years ago, anything in the cloud was an impossibility [for enterprises]," Doll explained, "and they weren't going to consider that. We built GitHub Enterprise several years ago as an on-premise offering," to complement the way software was delivered to enterprises as an on-premise vehicle.
But he noted, "Customers are now saying, 'We're proud to have decommissioned two of our data centers last year,'" with the emphasis on virtualizing their workflow, putting it closer to users, and wasting less time standing up physical infrastructure.
"Where we used to say enterprise software means 'on premise'," Doll said, "the two things that now most make up enterprise software are data isolation and authentication." With GitHub in a nonmultitenanted version on Amazon, he claimed, enterprises have the ability to work at massive scale, along with all of Amazon's available security features and isolation.
To that end, some of the new authentication and security features for GitHub Enterprise, such as SAML single sign-on or LADP support for Active Directory or OpenLDAP, appear to be specifically designed for satisfying corporate customers by letting them leverage their existing security frameworks.
Most of the other features in the new version of GitHub Enterprise fall under the mantle of GitHub as both a code repository and a system for project management, software deployment, and documentation. A second instance of GitHub can now be used for high availability, even when hosted in another data center, with continuous replication between instances. Doll pointed out this feature is even more useful when combined with Amazon's availability zones.
When it comes down to why GitHub chose Amazon as the main deployment target, Doll's answer was simple: "Every customer who asks for a cloud version of GitHub always asks for Amazon," noting that Amazon has sussed out many of the regulatory and logistical concerns associated with offering a certified business-grade cloud. There are tentative plans to offer GitHub Enterprise on other cloud infrastructures, but the company remains focused on delivering for Amazon right now.
GitHub's plans for individual enterprise customers through the Amazon-hosted product stand in contrast to what the company has engineered for itself and its SaaS users. GitHub doesn't use Amazon at all; the company keeps its own data centers. Doll claimed, "[Amazon] is not the right environment for the scale that we are. It's a big job to keep GitHub.com up and growing, and it's been easier to keep the data center models that we've used for the last few years."