Starting today, the CircleCI runner will give customers on our new Scale plan the ability to choose which jobs run in the cloud and which run on their own infrastructure.

Why did we build the runner?

Our goal has always been to build a platform that allows developers to do what they do best: build great things. That started by taking away the burden of maintaining infrastructure for continuous integration and deployment.

Before CircleCI, engineering teams had to worry about keeping build machines running, cleaning up dependencies, updating plugins, maintaining images, and more. Over the last nine years, we’ve been continuously improving our cloud-hosted compute options, which eliminates all of this overhead.

Despite the speed and ease of using our machine fleet in the cloud, there are a few edge cases where it doesn’t fit all the needs of our customers. For example, some of our larger customers in more regulated industries, like finance and healthcare, must meet compliance requirements that prevent them from running certain workloads in the cloud. Others working on embedded systems or IoT need to build on hardware that simply doesn’t exist in the cloud. We built the runner to meet these requirements so that even customers with the strictest security and compliance requirements can meet 100% of their software delivery needs with CircleCI.

How the runner works

Our goal for the runner is to provide our users with maximum flexibility, so we built it to run in any environment in any cloud or on premises, regardless of how your network is designed. The runner software itself is a simple application that you install on a self-hosted machine. Once it’s set up, you assign the runner a name, known as a resource_class, and it polls the CircleCI service for jobs. While a job is in progress, the runner reports status and logs back to CircleCI, which are displayed in the UI as they are for any other job.

Use the runner seamlessly with our cloud-hosted compute

The runner provides additional flexibility and control, but it also introduces the added responsibility of managing infrastructure — something we’ve worked hard to eliminate for our customers. Although there is some maintenance overhead when using the runner, we wanted to make sure your team is only managing infrastructure when absolutely necessary. We made sure that jobs using the runner work seamlessly alongside jobs using our cloud-hosted compute. You can continue to use our hosted environments as you do today, but now you can use the runner to add workloads that were previously blocked by security restrictions or compute requirements to your existing pipelines and workflows. You can even use a workspace to share data between self-hosted jobs and cloud-hosted jobs.

The Scale plan

It’s been over a year since we introduced the Performance plan, our first usage-based pricing plan. In that time, we’ve seen immense growth in platform usage, and we’ve recognized that the largest and most sophisticated organizations using CircleCI need a plan even more advanced and flexible than Performance.

For those organizations, we’re excited to introduce the Scale plan. Scale provides unrestricted access to our cloud-hosted platform but with additional controls that help meet the unique challenges of operating CI/CD at scale. The plan gives customers access to self-hosted runners, unlimited concurrent machines, our largest resource classes including GPU, and includes Gold support to ensure that customers receive maximum return on the investment they make in CircleCI.

What’s next?

The CircleCI runner and our new Scale plan are the latest additions to our leading cloud-hosted CI/CD platform and our first steps to meeting the unique needs of enterprise software organizations. Over the coming months, we’ll be introducing more features that make it even easier to use CircleCI to operate CI/CD pipelines at scale. We also recently received our SOC 2 Type II report, to give our enterprise customers even more confidence in the CircleCI platform.

If using runners with CircleCI sounds like the right solution for your team, you can find more information here.