Scaling IT Services for Germany's Largest Research Organisation - An Experience Report

Helmholtz Federated IT Services (HIFIS, see is a joint platform in which most of the research centres in the Helmholtz Association collaborate. HIFIS offers cloud and fundamental backbone services free of charge to scientists in Helmholtz and their partners. A special focus is put on Research Software Engineering with consulting, trainings and community building. One cloud service, which is of particular interesting in terms of DevOps, is a GitLab service called “the Helmholtz Codebase” - a self-hosted free tier of the popular software project management and DevOps platform. By applying DevOps best practices in combination with a high level of automation we observed three major gains: We were able to shrink the downtimes to almost zero and establish a release cycle that is quite close to the one that GitLab Inc. achieves themselves, whilst scaling the service up. With several thousand satisfied scientific users, Helmholtz Codebase has become quite successful. It is a great example for illustrating the transition from a local service bound to one centre to a distributed service accessible by everyone in the Helmholtz Association.



Christian Hüser

With 10 years of experience in the area of software development, software testing, software architecture, and DevOps the speaker is a versatile Research Software Engineer (RSE) with a strong ...