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Auxiliary Solution Resource: GitOps

Who to contact

Product Marketing Technical Marketing
@supadhyaya @csaavedra1

The Market Viewpoint

The need for GitOps

Modern applications are developed with rapid iteration and run at highly dynamic scale. In an organization with a mature DevOps culture code can be deployed to production hundreds of times per day. Applications can then run under highly dynamic loads from a few users to millions. Modern infrastructure needs to be elastic. Capacity that can be dynamically provisioned and de-provisioned is able to keep pace with load maintaining optimal performance and minimal cost. With the demands made on today's infrastructure it's becoming increasingly crucial manage infrastructure automation with a robust and cohesive methodology.

What is GitOps?

GitOps == IaC + MRs + CI/CD

GitOps is an operational framework that takes DevOps best practices used for application development such as version control, collaboration, compliance, and CI/CD, and applies them to infrastructure automation.

GitOps involves managing your IT infrastructure using practices well-known in software development such as version control, code review, and CI/CD pipelines. For example, infrastructure teams that practice GitOps use configuration files stored as code. Similar to how application source code generates the same application binaries every time it's built, GitOps configuration generates the same infrastructure environment every time it is deployed.

As with any emerging technology term, "GitOps" isn't strictly defined the same way by everyone across the industry. GitOps emerged in the cloud native community and some definitions restrict GitOps to say "Kubernetes is required to be doing GitOps." GitLab takes a broader approach. We've seen GitLab users and customers applying GitOps principals to all types of infrastructure automation including VMs and containers, as well as Kubernetes clusters.

While many tools and methodologies promise faster deployment and seamless management between code and infrastructure, GitOps differs by focusing on a developer-centric experience. Infrastructure management through GitOps happens in the same version control system as the application development, enabling teams to collaborate more in a central location while benefiting from all the built-in features of Git.

GitOps is a prescriptive workflow for using Infrastructure as Code. GitOps with GitLab helps you manage physical, virtual and cloud native infrastructures (including Kubernetes and serverless technologies) using tight integration with industry-leading infrastructure automation tools like Terraform, AWS Cloud Formation, Ansible, Chef, Puppet, and the like.

Benefits of GitOps

Push vs Pull GitOps (Agentless vs Agent Based GitOps)

As with any emerging technologies, there are different approaches to GitOps, each with their own pros and cons.

Push or Agentless GitOps In this approach, your CI/CD tool pushes the changes to your environment. This approach is consistent with the approach used for application deployment. Pro

Pull or Agent Bsed GitOps In this approach, an agent is installed in your cluster to pull changes whenever there is a drift from the desired configuration. Pro


User Persona

Infrastructure as Code requires understanding of the platform and the desired state of the application environment. Users of Infrastructure as Code have a good understanding of both Git as a SCM tool as well as the platform they are expected to provision and manage. Below are a few power users Infrastructure as Code:

Buyer Personas

Buyers of Infrastructure as Code are usually leaders who lead infrastructure / automation initiatives. Typical buyer personas are:

Analyst Coverage

List key analyst coverage of this usecase

Market Requirements

Below are the market requirements for GitOps

Foster Collaboration

Other features - Quickly create new branches of a project - Add new files/assets - Collaborate on proposed changes (review comments, suggest changes, WebIDE, suggestion approvals, conflict resolution, merge, diffing, hand-offs) - Workflow automation - Wiki snippets - Version-controlled snippets - Automatically update or close related issue(s) when a merge request is merged - Configurable issue closing pattern - Display merge request status for builds in CI system - Terraform plan output - Visibility into security scans and build stats

Compliance and Auditing

Version controlled environments

Test Automation

Pipeline configuration management

The GitLab Solution

How GitLab Meets the Market Requirements

A collection of short demonstrations that show GitLab's GitOps capabilities.

Market Requirements How GitLab Delivers GitLab Stage/Category Demos
Foster Collaboration Discussions, user tagging, general comments, inline comments, inline suggestions, unresolved thread tracking, issue creation from comment, suggestion management, CODEOWNERS, approvals Discussions, CODEOWNERS, MR approvals Foster Collaboration with GitOps Foster Collaboration with GitOps
Compliance and Auditing Compliance testing and audit controls are built into GitLab's CI/CD pipelines. Compliance at GitLab
Manage Stage: Audit Events, Audit Logs, Audit Reports, Compliance Management, Release Evidence, Chain of Custody, Granular user roles and permissions, segregation of duties
Secure Stage: License Compliance, Dependency Scanning
CODEOWNERS, MR approvals,
Version controlled environments Using GitLab version control to store XaC (Infrastructure, policy, configuration etc) helps maintain track of changes. In addition, auto rollback in case of failure helps roll back to the previous successful deployment Environment Rollback, GitLab Agent for Kubernetes  
Test Automation Include usability, performance testing as a part of the pipeline and roll back to a successful deployment in case of issues Release versioning, support advanced deployment strategies such as canary, incremental roll out, blue green deployments, Feature Flags, Review Apps, Performance testing & validation  
Pipeline configuration Management GitLab Pipeline Authoring allows users to create pipelines with minimal configuration, if required, and also create and visualize complex pipelines through Directed Acyclic Graphs. This helps infrastructure engineers minimize manual work and create repeatable processes to maximize productivity Pipeline configuration, Types of Pipeline congigurations, Directed Acyclic Graphs  

Top 3 Differentiators

Differentiator Value Proof Point
Choice of Agent-based and Agentless approach Customers have a choice to pick the right approach for their environments. With an Agentless approach, users can have GitLab manage and orchestrate GitOps processes for K8s and non-K8s platforms without having to install and maintain agents at every destination infrastructure component leading to the consumption of less resources, and cost savings. With an Agent-based approach, users, with secured infrastructure components that sit behind a firewall, can leverage the GitLab Agent to keep their secured infrastructure up-to-date mitigating the risk of security breaches and unexpected downtimes. TBD
On-premise & cloud - physical, virtual, cloud native infrastructures GitLab meets customers where they are. Most competitors support GitOps for cloud native infrastructure only, GitLab supports GitOps for your on-prem or cloud deployments - whether it is physical servers, virtual servers or cloud native infrastructures. You don't need to purchase and maintain different GitOps solutions for your different kinds of infrastructure leading to cost savings and a consistent user experience for doing GitOps across your organization. TBD
Single application to foster collaboration across Infrastructure, Development and Operations team GitLab is a single application with most of the necessary ingredients for GitOps - version control, CI/CD and container registry & out-of-the-box integration for configuration management, orchestration & infrastructure provisioning. Most competitive solutions require 5-6 integrations to achieve the same. Consolidating into GitLab for all your GitOps leads to cost savings and its consistent user experience and integrated capabilities can help increase productivity and higher environment stability and reliability. TBD

Message House

The message house for the use case provides a structure to describe and discuss the value and differentiators for the use case.

Current messaging can be found in the market viewpoint section for this page and on the topic page which answers What is GitOps? along with some additional notes here:

"Infrastructure Platform" is a great phrase to use in connection with GitOps and GitLab. We need to be careful with its use so we don't portray ourselves as something we aren't. In the past we've been called out for claiming to have capabilities similar to Chef, Ansible, and Terraform, when we don't house the capabilities within GitLab, but instead seek to integrate with those tools. If we keep it clear that we provide infra platform capabilities via integrations then we have some strong messaging that connects with I&O buyers. See an example use on the topic page

Discovery Questions

Objection Handling

Objection Response
Our environment is too complex for GitOps Large changes are always complex. But you can consider doing this iteratively - starting from your simplest test environment. GitLab also has a strong professional services team that can help you get started with your GitOps journey.
GitOps gives more access to developers to fiddle with the deployments, and infrastructure teams are not comfortable with that GitOps empowers developers to work collaboratively with Infrastructure teams. GitOps with GitLab includes enough controls through merge request approvals, audit reports, compliance dashboards - that your infrastructure teams can use to ensure they are able to monitor what goes into production.
(Infra / DevOps Engineer) I'm going to loose control over my work and environment GitOps empowers developers to work collaboratively with Infrastructure teams. GitOps with GitLab includes enough controls through merge request approvals, audit reports, compliance dashboards - that your infrastructure teams can use to ensure they are able to monitor what goes into production.
I don't use Kubernetes, so GitOps is not relevant for me GitOps with GitLab will meet you where you are - we support deployments to physical, virtual and cloud native environments - whether on-premise or on cloud.
I am not comfortable with a push-based / agentless approach that expects me to open up my firewall or give cluster access to GitLab CI/CD. We recently announced a GitLab Agent for Kubernetes that would allow secure communication between the Kubernetes cluster and GitLab CI/CD using an agent-based approach. This would not require customers to open up their firewall or give cluster access to GitLab CI/CD. We support both options currently - and you can choose the approach that best suits your specific needs.

Competitive Comparison

Weaveworks - using Flux OSS operator

Flux is an Open Source Solution for continuous and progressive delivery for Kubernetes. Flux was started at Weaveworks and is now a CNCF incubation project. It is part of the WeaveWorks Cloud solution for GitOps.

The WeaveWorks Cloud solution also works together with GitLab - with GitLab SCM and CI working with Flux CD to create a GitOps solution.

Differentiator How competitor does it How GitLab does it differently
Multiple products to achieve GitOps The Weaveworks toolchain is GitHub for version control, CircleCI for CI , for container registry, Weave Flux for CD in addition to other tools for configuration management, infrastructure provisioning and container orchestration Source. Customers can choose any other Git, CI, container registry of their choice as well Customers have atleast 3 fewer tools to manage. Version control, CI/CD and container registry is offered by GitLab while we integrate with other tools for configuration management, infrastructure provisioning and container orchestration similar to Weaveworks.
Multiple deployment targets Focused on cloud native deployments only Can deploy to On-premise & cloud, physical, virtual, cloud native infrastructures
Push & Pull based deployment Automation Flux watches for new images and updates services in the K8S cluster according to policies chosen by the customer. Does not support push based deployment. The GitLab Agent for Kubernetes watches for new K8S manifests and updates the K8S cluster accordingly. Available on self managed and on invite only for SaaS. Currently - push based deployment is supported without agent. Roadmap includes push based deployment support as well using the agent.
Use GitOps principles to install and manage self Flux v2 can create a git repo, manage flux manifests and updates using GitOps principles TBD?
Synchronize state when deployment is rolled back TBD? TBD?

Industry Analyst Relations (IAR) Plan

For a list of analysts with a current understanding of GitLab's capabilities for this use case, please reach out to Analyst Relations via Slack (#analyst-relations) or by submitting an issue and selecting the "AR-Analyst-Validation" template.

Proof Points - customers

Quotes and reviews

Gartner Peer Insights

"Very efficient tool for managing releases and versions. We have a development and deployment process, and at all stages [GitLab] is involved. In addition to storing development code, we also store all packaging and deploy scripts in git"

"Finally, the most amazing thing about GitLab is how well integrated the GitLab ecosystem is. It covers almost every step of development nicely, from the VCS, to CI, and deployment."

"GitLab is the most preferred service in the world and its user community is very wide. We can authorize project or branch based user authorization on GitLab. In addition, continuous deployment integrations can be done very quickly. In addition, you can create merge requests within the constraints you want and easily manage them. It is very easy to prevent conflicts. A service that must be used for software development teams."

Case Studies

-Northwestern Mutual

-Wag Labs

References to help you close


GitLab is not a replacement for existing Infrastructure Automation tools, but rather complements them to provide a comprehensive solution. As per the JetBrains DevOps Ecosystem 2019 survey, Terraform is the most popular infrastructure provisioning tool used by customers. Terraform is cloud-agnostic and helps manage complex infrastructures for distributed applications. GitLab will focus on Terraform support as the first step towards building a comprehensive GitOps solution.



WebPage, Whitepapers, infographics, blogs

Videos (including basic demo videos)

Clickthrough & Live Demos

Buyer's Journey

Inventory of key pages in the buyer's Journey

learning about the problem
looking for solution ideas
is this the right solution
topic page? solution page proof points
landing pages? ?comparisons? comparisons
-etc?   - product page x
- product page y
- product page z
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