GitOps vs. Traditional Deployment: Pros and Cons

If you're moving your organization towards Kubernetes, you're likely exploring the many deployment models out there. One of the models has been gaining more popularity in the past few years – GitOps. But what is it, and how does it differ from traditional deployment models?

GitOps and traditional deployment models have their pros and cons. The best option depends on organizational needs, size, and culture. In this article, we'll explore the differences between the two deployment models and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

What is GitOps?

GitOps is an operational model that standardizes application deployment and management in Kubernetes. GitOps strives to achieve IaC (Infrastructure-as-Code) by centralizing and automating the deployment and operations. GitOps is built on top of two core principles – Git and the idea of a "desired state."

Git as the central workflow

GitOps uses Git as the backbone for all deployment and maintenance of Kubernetes applications. Git is where everything happens – code, configurations, deployments, and even documentation. With GitOps, Git becomes the one source of truth.

Using GitOps means that there's no need to use separate tools for managing Kubernetes deployment and managing code. The deployment process becomes integrated into the coding process.

Desired state as the core idea

GitOps utilizes the concept of a "desired state" as the core idea. Essentially, the desired state is the configuration and state of the infrastructure that the developers want. All changes should be made to Git as a pull request, and the pipeline should be triggered to deploy the new desired state.

GitOps applies the principles of Git branching to deployment pipelines. Git branching can make it easier for teams to manage the deployment pipeline's complexity and prevent errors.

Traditional Deployment

The traditional deployment model, which may have been used before Kubernetes arrived on the scene, is still in use in many organizations. In traditional deployments, applications are manually deployed or deployed using scripts. It involves many manual steps, which can increase the risk of human error.

The traditional deployment model requires many manual steps. Often, different teams are involved in different stages of app deployment, creating silos around development and operations. The process can become slower as it waits for approvals, sign-offs, and other dependencies.

Manual deployments are often not scalable or repeatable. When multiple teams are working on different projects, it can be challenging to ensure consistency across deployments.

Pros and Cons of GitOps

GitOps has several pros and cons that teams should consider before deciding on deploying it.

Pros of using GitOps

Here are some of the pros of using GitOps in your deployment and operations.

GitOps Centralizes Everything

GitOps centralizes everything in Git, making it the one source of truth. When everything is committed to Git, it is easier to track, monitor, and manage changes. No more running several tools to deploy and manage applications; GitOps provides an integrated workflow that spans development, deployment, and operations.

GitOps Improves Team Collaboration

GitOps helps developers and operations teams collaborate better by breaking down the silos that might exist between them. With GitOps, both teams share a single view of the desired state of the application, facilitating collaboration on new features and updates.

GitOps is Automated

GitOps has an automated deployment process, triggered by Git pull requests. This makes the deployment process consistent across different environments and reduces the chances of human error.

GitOps Reduces Time to Release

Since GitOps automates the deployment pipeline, it reduces the time to release significantly. Code changes are automatically tested, merged, and deployed without human intervention, reducing the release cycle's end-to-end time.

GitOps Lowers the Risk of Downtime

When everything is in Git, it is easier to track the changes and understand their impact on the infrastructure. With GitOps, operators can roll back or roll out deployments as soon as a problem occurs.

Cons of using GitOps

As with any deployment model, GitOps has its cons to consider before adopting it.

GitOps has a Steep Learning Curve

GitOps can be challenging for teams to adopt if they are not used to centralizing everything in Git. Before adopting it, teams will need to invest time and resources in training and testing.

GitOps Demands Good Git Habits

GitOps demands good Git habits, such as code reviews, pull requests, and branching, which some teams may not have had to use before. These habits can be hard to get used to and can require significant changes in team culture.

GitOps Isn't a Silver Bullet

GitOps won't solve all your deployment issues. If your organization has problems with how applications are designed and architected, it might not solve them.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Deployment

Traditional deployment has its pros and cons, which are still in use in many organizations.

Pros of Traditional Deployment

Traditional Deployments Are Familiar

Traditional deployment models have been around for a long time, and many developers and operations teams know how it works. When new teams or hires come on board, traditional deployment models are also easier to teach.

Traditional Deployments Can Be Flexible

Traditional deployment models give teams more flexibility to change their pipelines and tools. Organizations can easily use a combination of tools that meet their needs, rather than relying on a single integrated pipeline.

Traditional Deployments Allow for More Granular Control

Traditional deployment models allow teams to have more granular control over how their applications are deployed. DevOps teams can use the tools that they prefer to deploy applications and can customize their configurations to meet their needs.

Cons of Traditional Deployment

Traditional Deployments Are Error-Prone

Traditional deployment models are often complex and difficult to understand, resulting in errors and delays.

Traditional Deployments Have Limited Visibility

Traditional deployment models lack visibility into the application's state, making it challenging to maintain control over the entire pipeline. This lack of visibility also makes it challenging to track changes across versions, environments, and teams.

Traditional Deployments Are Not Repeatable

Traditional deployment models are often not repeatable or scalable, making it difficult to deploy the same application or change across different environments. This can result in inconsistencies that require manual intervention.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right deployment model is crucial for any organization that wants to achieve optimal application deployment and management in Kubernetes. Both GitOps and traditional deployments have their pros and cons that should be evaluated before making a choice.

GitOps provides centralized configuration management, automated deployment, and improved collaboration, while traditional deployments are familiar, more flexible, and allow for more granular control. Ultimately, the choice of the best deployment model depends on the organization's culture, size, and needs.

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