Snyk is the most well-known (and widely marketed) SCA tool in the cyber security industry today—but your application’s security shouldn’t be settled by a popularity contest.
Choosing a software composition analysis tool is an important decision that will affect your cybersecurity for years to come. But since the product category is relatively new, it can be difficult to evaluate your options and understand what sets the best solutions apart.
This comparison evaluates Snyk and MergeBase on five capabilities that companies find most important when choosing an SCA tool. (If you’d like to see our analysis of all the major SCA solutions side by side, check out our SCA buyer’s guide.)
Snyk vs. MergeBase: a side-by-side comparison
We measured Snyk and MergeBase’s competencies in the five most critical areas where a quality SCA tool needs to perform. This guide is based on our extensive industry experience, conversations with cybersecurity professionals, and our own research.
To help you evaluate how Snyk and MergeBase compare, we broke down their approaches to the following key areas:
- Developer guidance with compatibility check
- Comprehensive SBOM support
- Low false positives output
- Integration to the DevOps process with runtime protection
- Total cost of ownership
We’ll unpack these individual competencies in a moment, but here’s how these tools stack up against each other at a glance, on a scale of 1–5. These scores are based on each tool’s capabilities as of January 2023.
At this point, you should be asking, “Isn’t it a bit suspect for MergeBase to give themselves a perfect score?”
Fair point, but there are a few good reasons for this:
- This scoring system focuses on the five areas that are absolutely vital to choosing a strong SCA solution. We arrived at these factors after countless conversations with IT security and development teams over the years: these are the ones that come up over and over.
- We could score all of these solutions across many more factors—like the size of the company’s internal research team, the number of integrations available, etc. However, getting reliable numbers for these factors is difficult to do, and even if we did get accurate numbers, they could change next week.
- MergeBase was specifically built to master these five areas. When companies switch from another solution to MergeBase, it’s because of one (or several) of these factors.
- While MergeBase is strictly an SCA solution, these other SCA tools are parts of much larger software security suites. With breadth of coverage comes a lack of focus. If we were to rate ourselves against everything that Snyk does, our score would look a lot different—but we’re not playing their game.
Let’s look at how these two stack up against each other in detail.
Snyk vs MergeBase on developer guidance
It’s no secret that developers play a crucial role in securing your software supply chain, but most SCA solutions don’t make their jobs any easier. After an SCA identifies a vulnerability, only a handful of solutions provide usable developer guidance on how to patch it.
Unfortunately, technology organizations have discovered that most developer guidance requires the developer to invest more time to research. An ideal SCA solution gives you advanced developer guidance, a precise compatibility check, and suppression management. This empowers your developers to find the best upgrade path instantly.
How each tool performs in the area of developer guidance
We graded MergeBase and Snyk’s developer guidance capabilities on the following five-point scale:
|Capabilities:||No guidance||Refers to current versions||Provides versions & risks for each patch||Provides compatibility, popularity & data points for each patch||AutoPatch: Can patch vulnerabilities automatically|
The MergeBase advantage: While Snyk does provide versions and risks for each patch it recommends, it doesn’t provide guidance about upgrade compatibility and popularity. MergeBase provides all of this and can implement patches automatically.
Snyk vs. MergeBase on SBOM support
The software bill of materials (SBOM) plays an essential role for both software companies and their enterprise customers. Organizations that deliver software applications face increasing regulatory and compliance pressures to produce a comprehensive SBOM: one that not only shows vulnerabilities and licenses but also points out technical debt (portions of code that need future cleanup).
For enterprise customers, it’s more common to ask your vendor for an accompanying software bill of materials. But it’s also important to validate the SBOMs that these vendors provide—which an advanced SCA tool can help you do. Here’s how Snyk and MergeBase stack up in this area:
We graded these tools’ SBOM support on the following five-point scale:
|Capabilities:||No SBOM support||Exports SBOMs in only one format (no import)||Exports SBOMs in multiple formats (no import)||Supports multiple SBOM formats (import and export)||Dependency info incorporated into SBOM|
The MergeBase advantage: In terms of SBOM support, MergeBase is the clear winner. Snyk allows users to export SBOMs, which is important when selling into highly regulated industries. MergeBase equips you to do much more, including importing and exporting in multiple formats and integrating nested dependency information into every SBOM you generate.
Snyk vs MergeBase on false positives
SCA false positives are just plain bad for business. In our 2022 report, The True Costs of False Positives in Software Security, 62.1% of surveyed technology leaders revealed that decreasing false positives is a higher business priority than increasing true positives. False positives waste valuable time and significantly hamper productivity on both development and security teams—and they can even harm relationships between teams.
We ran Snyk and MergeBase against a set of applications with 511 known vulnerabilities to see how many they’d catch, how many they’d miss, and how many false positives they’d flag. Here’s how they stacked up:
We graded their accuracy on the following five-point scale:
|Capabilities:||False positive rate above 10%||False positive rate of 5–10%||False positive rate of 2–5%||False positive rate of 1–2%||False positive rate below 1%|
The MergeBase advantage: One of the reasons we built MergeBase was to address the problem of false positives in the SCA space—without missing true positives. By design, MergeBase is the most accurate SCA tool on the market today.
Snyk vs. MergeBase on DevOps integration
Both of these tools integrate with your build pipeline and repository and support container scanning to some degree. However, only MergeBase offers binary application scanning and runtime protection:
We graded these tools’ DevOps integration capabilities on the following five-point scale:
|Capabilities:||No DevOps integration: a standalone product||Build pipeline integration||Repository integration and container scanning||Binary application scanning||Runtime protection|
The MergeBase advantage: MergeBase is built on a Shift Left Security philosophy. Our SCA tool protects your build pipeline and runtime, integrates with your repository, and allows for both container and binary scanning—so you’re always aware of known vulnerabilities in your third-party code, whether it’s open source or licensed.
Snyk vs. MergeBase on total cost of ownership
Every SCA tool comes with a cost. This goes beyond the price you pay for the tool, though: you should also consider the cost of labor to use the tool. For example, a tool with a high false positive rate will eat up your developer’s time—and the less developer guidance a tool provides, the more labor you spend figuring out how to respond to vulnerability alerts.
Then there’s the pricing structure itself to consider. Some SCAs are transparent with pricing, others use complex formulas based on variable directional metrics, and others are entirely opaque. So when cross-evaluating SCA options, we looked for two factors:
- Competitive pricing: The vendor uses transparent, straightforward pricing.
- Labor savings: The tool has robust enough capabilities to reduce software supply chain security supply labor costs.
Here’s how Snyk and MergeBase stack up:
We graded these tools’ total cost of ownership on the following five-point scale:
|Capabilities:||Low labor savings||Medium labor savings, high price||Medium labor savings, competitive price||High labor savings, high price||High labor savings, competitive price|
The MergeBase advantage: One of the sharpest contrasts between MergeBase and Snyk is in pricing models. Snyk has a reputation for initially seeming affordable, but when customers hit certain limits, extra fees start to stack up. One reason companies switch from Snyk to MergeBase is for a more transparent and predictable pricing situation—if you want an estimate of how much MergeBase will cost (or save) your company, check out our total cost of ownership calculator.
Choose the SCA that’s right for you
Selecting the right SCA is critical to protecting your organization, and these five factors are the strongest indicators of how valuable an SCA tool can be to your organization.
We built MergeBase so you can rapidly secure your software supply chain without slowing down your business. If you’re considering SCA options, you’re welcome to download our comparison worksheet to build your own SCA benchmark for your organization.
For more information on this guide and to learn more about how MergeBase can help protect your software supply chain, please connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’d like to see MergeBase in action, we’d love to show you a demo!