Buildkite helps tech developers fly higher, faster

By Leon Gettler >>

MORE BUSINESSES are now going online, to overcome COVID-19 affected markets, and the demand for software has increased. Companies now want their software done quicker than ever.

Enter Buildkite, the Melbourne-based software firm that gives developers the tools they need to keep up with demand for software built with speed, scalability and security. Buildkite helps software companies build software, test it and release it.

Buildkite CEO Lachlan Donald said as software has become more complicated over time, the craft of assembling it has become more complicated.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, the release cadences were every 12 months – or even two years. As the world has moved online, software delivery has moved to the real-time end of the spectrum. 


Buildkite works in a space known as ‘continuous delivery’ and it builds tools to help some of the best software development teams in the world ship software faster.

Mr Donald said continuous delivery is one of the most critical factors for successful businesses today and Buildkite, which grew out of the high growth tech companies in Melbourne, delivers its goods with parallel testing.

He said software companies build complex software with millions of lines of source code and changes happening every five minutes. This is done with test suites.

For smaller companies, it’s very quick, say about 30 seconds. But the larger companies like Shopify and 99 Designs, the test suites would take an hour or two to run.

“Continuous deliver tools like Buildkite take those test suites, carve them up into small pieces, and run them over the cloud,” Mr Donald told Talking Business.

“If you take Shopify as an example. They joined us when they were 300 engineers. Their tests were taking 40 minutes and their mandate was to get it under five minutes. They used Buildkite after breaking all our competitors’ previous tools – we got it down to five minutes.”

This was done using parallel testing. Buildkite has grown with the Shopify firm, which now has 2500 engineers and is driving the state of global e-commerce.

Mr Donald said continuous delivery was one of the key differentiators for Buildkite.


Another differentiator is that Buildkite offers the only continuous delivery tools for mobile and web development teams.

“We provide the one tool that unifies all the engineers across the process,” Mr Donald said.

He said Buildkite runs a hybrid delivery model that is both on-premises with good security, and in the cloud where the source code is handed off.

“We’re a hybrid architecture where we give you what we call an agent, which you can run on your servers or your cloud, your infrastructure, so that runs the heavy lifting of the tests without Buildkite getting access to the source code. But then we have a SaaS (software-as-a-service) side of the business, the interface that developers interact with, all the external integrations, and Buildkite runs that,” he said.

“That architectural separation, turns out to be magical. It’s exactly the right compromise between those two worlds. You get strong security but you also get unlimited scaling and all the other niceties that cloud computing brings.” 

Mr Donald said this has been run on so many different platforms.

One of its customers, Cruise, the self-driving car company headquartered in San Francisco, runs the agent on their cars to test the software before it’s deployed there.

“With the emergence of next-gen tech, like IoT, and other things like AI, Buildkite provides that hybrid architecture and provides interesting ways to do new things,” Mr Donald said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at




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