What is GitOps and How is it Changing CI/CD?

What is GitOps and How is it Changing CI/CD?

GitOps is a method of performing operations on infrastructure or application configurations using Git. But it’s not just about using Git; it’s about how you use it. The operations are carried out through pull requests, which ensure that the changes are reviewed and approved before they are merged into the master branch.

GitOps essentially extends the version control system to the entire infrastructure, making it possible to manage and control the state of the system with Git. It allows you to use the same tools and processes you use for source code management for infrastructure management. This approach can bring about a high level of efficiency, security, and reliability in software deployment.

In GitOps, the desired state of the system is stored in a Git repository. Any changes to the system are made by modifying the desired state in the repository. The actual state of the system is continuously monitored and compared with the desired state, and any discrepancies are automatically corrected. This mechanism ensures that the system is always in the desired state, providing a self-healing capability that is one of the core strengths of GitOps.

In this article, we’ll explore GitOps concepts further, and demonstrate how GitOps is posed to change CI/CD pipelines forever.

Basic Principles and Practices of GitOps 

GitOps is based on a set of principles and practices that guide its operation:

Declarative System

In a declarative system, you specify the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’. You declare the desired state of the system, and the system takes care of making it happen. This is in contrast to an imperative system, where you specify the steps to reach the desired state.

In GitOps, the desired state of the system is declared in a Git repository. This state is expressed in a format that can be easily understood and manipulated by both humans and machines. The system continuously works to maintain this desired state, automatically correcting any deviations.

Version Controlled

Every change made to the system is tracked in the Git repository. This provides a complete history of all changes, who made them, when they were made, and why they were made. This version control capability is critical for auditability, traceability, and accountability.

This version-controlled approach also makes it easy to roll back changes if needed. If a change causes problems, you can quickly revert the system back to a previous state. This capability can significantly reduce the impact and duration of outages and incidents.

Automated Delivery

In GitOps, the delivery of changes to the system is fully automated. Once a change is approved and merged into the master branch, it is automatically applied to the system. This reduces the need for manual intervention and the potential for human error.

This automation also allows for faster and more frequent deployments. This can significantly improve the speed of delivery and the responsiveness to changes in business requirements or market conditions.

Immutable and Image-Based

In GitOps, the system is composed of immutable components. These components are created as images, and once created, they cannot be changed. Any changes are made by creating new images and replacing the old ones.

This immutability and image-based approach provides a high level of reliability and security. It ensures that the components are always in a known and trusted state, reducing the risk of failures or security breaches.

Pull-Based Deployments

In GitOps, deployments are pull-based rather than push-based. This means that the system pulls the changes from the Git repository, rather than the changes being pushed to the system. This ensures that the system is always in control of the changes, providing a higher level of security and resilience.

With pull-based deployments, the system can continuously monitor the Git repository for changes and apply them as soon as they are available. This can provide faster and more reliable deployments.

What is the Difference Between Traditional CI/CD and GitOps-Driven CI/CD? 

Approach to Infrastructure Management

In traditional Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) models, the infrastructure management practices are often manual. In this model, developers make changes in the application code, which triggers a build in the CI/CD pipeline. However, the infrastructure itself remains static and is not part of the CI/CD pipeline.

On the other hand, GitOps provides an automated solution for infrastructure management. It treats infrastructure as code, thereby making it possible to apply the same version control and CI/CD principles used in application development. This leads to a more streamlined, efficient, and automated management of infrastructure.

Source of Truth

The traditional CI/CD model relies on the runtime environment as the source of truth. This implies that the state of the actual running system is used to determine the current state of the application and infrastructure.

However, GitOps switches this perspective by making Git the source of truth. In this model, any change in the system state is first reflected in Git, and then the actual system is updated to match this state. This ensures that the system state can always be accurately tracked and reproduced from the Git repository.

Deployment Model

The deployment process in a traditional CI/CD setup is often a manual and complex task. It involves multiple stages, including testing, staging, and production, and requires human intervention at each step.

GitOps, however, simplifies this process by automating the deployment pipeline. Any change in the Git repository automatically triggers the deployment process, reducing the need for human intervention and error in the process.

Auditability and Rollback

The traditional CI/CD model, while effective, often lacks comprehensive audit trails and easy rollback mechanisms. The changes are pushed directly to the runtime environment, making it difficult to keep track of what changes were made when and by whom.

GitOps, with Git as the source of truth, offers superior auditability. Each change in the system state is recorded as a commit in the Git repository, providing a detailed audit trail. Moreover, the inherent version control capabilities of Git make it easy to rollback to a previous state if needed.

What Does the Future Hold for GitOps? 

GitOps could have an even bigger impact on CI/CD pipelines as it continues to evolve and develop.

Integration of AI and Machine Learning

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) with GitOps is one of the emerging trends in the market. AI and ML can help automate and optimize the GitOps workflow even further.

For instance, AI can help predict potential issues in the system and take corrective actions. Machine Learning can be used to learn from past incidents and improve the system’s resilience.

Increased Use of Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud

As organizations continue to adopt a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy, GitOps plays a crucial role in managing the complexity of such environments. GitOps provides a unified way to manage and synchronize the state of different cloud environments.

With GitOps, the desired state of the entire system is described in a Git repository. This makes it possible to manage multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments in a consistent and efficient manner.

Policy as Code

Policy as Code is another trend that’s gaining traction in the GitOps landscape. With this approach, organizations can define their security and compliance policies as code in a Git repository.

This allows for the automated enforcement of these policies across the entire system. Any violation of these policies can be easily detected and corrected, ensuring a high level of security and compliance.

GitOps in Edge Computing

Edge computing is a model that brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times and save bandwidth. GitOps could potentially play a vital role in managing the deployment and operation of applications in edge computing environments.

With GitOps, the desired state of the edge computing environment can be defined in a Git repository. This makes it possible to manage and synchronize these environments in an efficient and automated manner.


In conclusion, GitOps is a powerful tool that can significantly improve the efficiency and reliability of software development and deployment. By treating infrastructure and policies as code, and using Git as the source of truth, GitOps can offer superior auditability, easy rollbacks, and automated deployment. With the integration of AI, Machine Learning, multi-cloud strategies, and edge computing, the future of GitOps looks promising indeed.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.


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