Comparing Buildkite and Jenkins

Jenkins provides teams with a free-to-use CI/CD tool that allows them to be in full control of every part of the CI process. However, this also means they’re responsible for managing the central CI infrastructure, ensuring patches are applied, and maintaining stability as environments grow. Scaling up can be costly, time consuming, and possibly require the assistance of a third-party consultant.

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Product type


Buildkite provides a SaaS platform to define and visualize pipelines, and an agent to execute jobs on customer-managed infrastructure.


Jenkins is fully hosted and configured by the end user.

Pipeline Definition

Streamlined Syntax

Pipelines can be created via an in-UI step builder, dynamically via CLI utility, or as a file in your source repository, and are written in YAML.

Multiple DSLs

Pipelines are defined in a file in your source repository and written in one of two Groovy-based domain specific languages, one for simple declarative tasks, and one for more complex scripting.

Pipeline Visualization


Buildkite’s engineers support a SaaS platform providing built-in, real-time, and historical visualizations of your builds, complete with metrics, filters, and log output.

Community Maintained

Jenkins pipeline visualization is provided through an optional open source Blue Ocean plugin maintained by the community.

Job Orchestration

Buildkite Hosted

Buildkite’s SaaS platform is built for whatever scale you require. Our self-hosted agents give you full control of environments and parallelization.

User Maintained

Jenkins provides full control of orchestration and scaling, but architecture, dependency chain, and environments must be internally maintained.

Plugin Support


Buildkite provides a library of first-party and community plugins, with additional support for custom plugin sources.

Community Led

Large selection of community plugins. Plugins and their dependencies must be managed alongside the central server.

Security & Privacy

Full Control

Buildkite’s self-hosted agent lets you keep sensitive data behind your firewall. When you host your runners, your code never leaves your servers.

User configured

Security options vary with software versions and plugin support. Can be deployed fully in user environments, but must be vetted/audited accordingly.

Licensing Model

SaaS Subscription

Buildkite charges a per-seat price with the option of enterprise support at larger scale. The Buildkite agent is open source and can be run at no cost.

Open Source

Jenkins is 100% open source. There is no monetary cost to run Jenkins, but lack of support can lead to high maintenance cost.


Priority email and live chat support.


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Understanding Buildkite’s Scalable, Hybrid Infrastructure

  • Scalability

    Buildkite is a hybrid SaaS platform designed for enterprise scale. Run as many jobs as you need and we’ll manage the orchestration or reporting. You’re in charge of your builds, Buildkite is in charge of the platform.

  • Security

    Buildkite jobs are run in your environments, behind your firewall. Because your source code is never shared with us, Buildkite provides the control and security of on-prem combined with the convenience of hosted.

  • Extensibility

    Buildkite makes it easy to create, find, and implement integrations with third-party technologies. Buildkite has an extensive library of community plugins and deep native support for major source control, container, and dev tool solutions.

Hybrid CI/CD for Shared Responsibility

You don’t have to choose between the control and security of on-premises solutions and the convenience of cloud-hosted solutions!

At Buildkite, we know that no one knows our customers’ applications and environments better than they do, so we give you full control of how and where to run your builds, tests, and deployments. We also know that managing operations and architecture for build environments and centralized orchestration is no small task.

Buildkite provides the best of both worlds: a world-class SaaS platform to make creating pipelines and managing access control a breeze, and an open-source lightweight agent to run your builds wherever your applications live.

Elegant and Flexible User Interface

When you log in to your Buildkite account, you’ll find an aggregated, filterable view of the build status and history for every pipeline in your organization. You can belong to multiple organizations, allowing you to organize and control access as granularly as you require.

Each pipeline provides in-depth logging for each step, with additional facilities for creating custom annotations, making it easy to ensure that the most relevant information for your builds is readily available.

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