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GitOps & DevOps: differences, parallels, and why both is better

Vanessa Whiteley
Vanessa Whiteley
22 November 21 DevOps
GitOps and DevOps: differences, similarities, and why both is better

In this blog series, we’re getting up close and personal with GitOps, bringing you the whats, whys, and hows of this transformational framework. First up, we’re asking the question that’s on everybody’s lips: what’s the difference between GitOps and DevOps?

Before we get ahead of ourselves dazzling you with the delights of GitOps, let’s have a quick refresh of what DevOps is and why you’re probably already doing it.

The feeling’s cultural

Digital transformation has led more and more organisations to adopt a DevOps culture. This portmanteau (‘Dev’ for development and ‘Ops’ for operations) refers to the bringing together of traditionally siloed teams to produce new applications and services, and make updates, at high velocity. DevOps extends agility to the whole software development lifecycle (SDLC). By speeding things up, organisations can be more competitive and deliver more value to their customers.

The DevOps core foundation is collaboration, where dev and ops teams work together to create pipelines that can be spun up automatically, rather than depending on service request culture to achieve frequent deployments. While these practices are consistent, the tools you use as part of your DevOps approach can vary. By doing DevOps, organisations can deploy more often, develop new features, release updates more quickly, and fix any issues in an instant.

In short, like agile, DevOps is a cultural transformation. By eliminating silos, engineers are free to work across the entire SDLC, including development, testing, implementation, and operations. As a DevOps culture matures, it might evolve to incorporate new elements to speed up other processes, such as quality assurance (sometimes called DevTestOps) and security, known as DevSecOps, which you can find out more about here – and operations–related tasks. The latter is how GitOps was born.

eBook illustration – GitOps explained: a guide to what it is and why it matters

GitOps explained: a guide to what it is and why it matters

In this eBook, we explain what GitOps is and get under the skin of this operational framework.

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Git up to speed

Unlike DevOps, which is a tool–agnostic cultural approach, GitOps is an operational framework applied to infrastructure automation. As the name suggests, it’s tied to a specific tool – Git. It’s optional – if you have a DevOps culture, you don’t have to do GitOps. But you can’t put the cart before the horse. If you want to practice GitOps, you’re going to need a mature DevOps approach in place.

As you can imagine then, GitOps incorporates software development lifecycle best practices, such as collaboration, version control, continuous delivery/deployment (CD), and compliance, and applies them to infrastructure automation. With Git as a single source of truth, GitOps provides an operational model for infrastructure provisioning, enabling developers to manage and trigger deployments using pull requests.

With Git containing your system’s entire state, any changes are visible and auditable. And because it’s been built around the developer experience, teams can use GitOps to easily manage infrastructure with no steep learning curve in sight. They can simply use the same software development tools and processes they’re already familiar with.

Other than a Git repository to track any changes you make to a project, you don’t need a specific product or platform to do GitOps. While it’s an effective way to manage Kubernetes, and is often touted as such, its principles are relevant to all types of infrastructure automation, including virtual machines (VMs) and containers.

DevOps and GitOps side by side

Now you’re better acquainted with both, let’s take a look at GitOps and DevOps side by side.

DevOps GitOps
What is it? A cultural transformation centred around CI/CD pipelines A declarative approach to CD
What tools do I need? Any generic CI/CD pipelining and related tooling GitOps Operator
What practices are involved? Improved team collaboration and communication, CI/CD, IaC, more automation, frequent deployment PR-based CD for your infrastructure
Any other related technology? A wide range of other business solutions Kubernetes or another highly dynamic container orchestration tool
What are the benefits? Increased productivity and collaboration, speed up development, employee satisfaction, lower costs, strong security Infrastructure configuration stability and visibility

As you can see, DevOps and GitOps share a lot of the same principles and practices. If you already have a DevOps culture, you might decide to manage your infrastructure using GitOps. As a result, you should see a noticeable increase in productivity for DevOps teams as they embrace the incredible rollback power GitOps provides, ensuring your infrastructure stays stable, reliable, compliant, and secure.

Seven big challenges to get over with GitOps

Seven big challenges to get over with GitOps

In this blog series we take a look at some of the problems GitOps poses and the challenges you might have to overcome.

Read the next blog in our series here...

Get ready for GitOps

If you’re ready to step up your DevOps culture, GitOps might be the way to go. Our latest eBook is packed with the principles, practices, and benefits of GitOps, so you can figure out if it's a good fit for your organisation.

Download the eBook here!

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About the authors

Vanessa Whiteley

Vanessa Whiteley

Partner Marketing Manager