GitLab's 10-day certification freebie offer lasted only two because, surprise surprise, people really like freebies

Biz expected 4,000 signups, got 60,000, system couldn't cope


GitLab says a surge in demand and a technical shortcoming resulted in the DevOps outfit yanking a free certification offer barely two days after turning on the tap.

In a postmortem write-up this week, GitLab manager Christine Yoshida said the infrastructure of its glossy "learning experience ... eventually hit a system limit" as excited users piled on, and the promotion period was ended early.

A discount code was made available in April to people who wanted to get GitLab-certified. The 100 per cent discount was planned to last for ten days, and the GitLab gang figured 4,000 users would sign up.

David Sakamoto, veep of customer success, told The Register that, as it turned out, "in just two days, there were over 59,000 enrollments with over 7,000 people using the hands-on training lab infrastructure."

The systems couldn't cope with that many netizens: according to Sakamoto, "we eventually exceeded the user capacity limit and had to make the difficult decision to end the discount period."

All a bit awkward. While the hands-on and training lab infrastructure was separate from the GitLab.com software-as-a-service infrastructure – and Sakamoto told us a third-party learning management platform was involved – using "infrastructure that was designed to support up to 500 active simultaneous users" does seem a little shortsighted in retrospect.

A glimpse at the comments on the announcement of the special offer shows that users were struggling with the system even before the plug was pulled. There were problems connecting and with discount codes not working as expected, and users who were unable to login ended up frustrated when the second-day hammer came down.

Although the apologies from GitLab were profuse, it made no promises to resume the 100 per cent discount for the remaining eight days of the original ten-day offer period. Sakamoto told us: "We are working to autoscale our training systems to support the demand."

The screw-up is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, bigwigs in the code-hosting biz are doubtless delighted at the desire for certification. On the other hand, an inability to handle a spike in demand will have dented both the confidence and goodwill of users affected. ®

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