SRE vs. GitOps vs. Platform Engineering: A Strategic Comparison

By Twain Taylor
September 19, 2023

Unlock the full potential of your DevOps strategy by understanding the interplay between SRE, GitOps, and Platform Engineering.

Further reading

A Closer Look at Weave GitOps Enterprise Features

What is Flux CD?

Guide to GitOps

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Today’s software development industry is being revolutionized by three methodologies: Site Reliability Engineering (SRE), GitOps, and Platform Engineering. Each offers a unique perspective and tactical approach, shaping how organizations navigate the software lifecycle. In this article, we will shed light on the various nuances of these paradigms and explore their commonalities and differences. We'll examine their comparative aspects, areas where they converge, and how you can choose the right approach for your organization's specific needs.

SRE vs. GitOps vs. Platform Engineering

Each with its unique strategies, SRE, GitOps, and platform Engineering are changing how we approach software creation and management. Let's explore what differentiates them and where they might hit roadblocks.


SRE brings a software engineering mindset to system administration topics. It's not just about keeping the lights on in the current system but also about designing and building for system reliability from the ground up. SREs are the pit crew for your application, fine-tuning and refueling where necessary to keep things running at peak performance.

A key aspect of SRE is using an error budget, a defined threshold for system errors and outages. This budget provides a clear measure of system reliability and allows for a balance between releasing new features and maintaining system stability. New features can be launched if the system runs smoothly and the error budget is not exhausted. On the other hand, if the error budget is depleted, the focus shifts to improving system reliability.


GitOps is a paradigm that positions Git as the definitive source for declarative applications and infrastructure. This, in turn, helps extend the DevOps practices to infrastructure automation. It's a step beyond Infrastructure as Code (IaC), describing (nearly) everything as code. The applications of Git allow us to define and automate even network and security implementations. In fact, GitOps is now used to define and manage whole IT infrastructures declaratively. This has, in turn, led to the concept of "GitOps everything" in cloud-based systems.

There are 4 core GitOps principles as outlined by the Open GitOps project:

  • Declarative Configuration, where the system's desired state is expressed declaratively
  • Versioned and Immutable storage, which maintains the desired state with immutability and a full version history
  • Automatic Pulling of the desired state declarations by software agents
  • Continuous Reconciliation, where these agents consistently observe the actual system state, striving to apply the desired state.

GitOps relies on Git, with pull requests being the change mechanism for updating infrastructure. And when fresh code or configuration is integrated, the GitOps pipeline initiates the changes in the environment.

In the context of network and security policies, tools like Flux CD and Flagger and concepts like policy-as-code have revolutionized traffic flow management, monitoring metrics, product security, and compliance. GitOps allows for full integration of these policies into the pipeline. This fortifies the application, ensuring its robustness from inception to production.

Despite the challenges of adopting GitOps, it promises to automate organizational processes and make them more effective. Adherence to GitOps principles enables us to represent an organization's entire IT infrastructure in a declarative manner. This approach allows us to architect operations that reduce the dependence on manual intervention. GitOps is progressively taking center stage in contemporary IT strategies. It foresees a future where distinctions between Development and Operations become obsolete as everyone relies on identical tools and automation processes.

Platform Engineering

Platform engineering aims to streamline the entire software development lifecycle, focusing on improving the developer experience. It revolves around designing and constructing toolchains that empower software engineering organizations with self-service capabilities, especially in cloud-native technology. Often, the main output of platform engineering is an "Internal Developer Platform" (IDP). This platform caters to the operational requirements throughout an application's lifecycle.

An IDP combines a variety of technologies and tools. This integration reduces the cognitive burden on developers while preserving crucial context. It provides a structured setup for operations and enables developer self-service.

Having emerged from the evolution of DevOps with the rise of cloud-native technologies, platform engineering prevents teams from reinventing the wheel by tackling shared problems and binding all of this into a paved road. It's about providing developers with the right tools and environment to do their best work, reducing friction, and increasing efficiency.

The GitOps Guide to Building & Managing Internal Platforms

Download this whitepaper to learn more about internal developer platforms, how GitOps enables a platform model, and GitOps adoption best practices.


SRE, GitOps & platform engineering sharing common ground

While SRE, GitOps, and platform engineering each carve out their unique strategic niches, they also converge on several key principles, and it’s our job to harness these shared tenets.


  • SRE: Employs automation as a critical tool for managing system failures and upholding system reliability. SRE aims to mitigate errors and enhance operational efficiency by reducing manual intervention.
  • GitOps: Automates the deployment process by using Git as a single source of truth, and leveraging a deployment automation tool like Flux CD. This approach not only accelerates deployments but also ensures consistency and reliability across environments.
  • Platform engineering: Utilizes automation throughout the software development lifecycle to bolster developer productivity. By automating repetitive tasks, platform engineering allows developers to focus on code quality and innovation. It also saves platform engineers time by templating and automating manual tasks.

Measurement and Monitoring

  • SRE: Utilizes Service Level Objectives (SLOs) and Service Level Indicators (SLIs) as key metrics for ensuring system reliability. These metrics serve as a data-driven approach to measure and monitor the health and performance of services.
  • GitOps: Takes measurement and monitoring a step further by incorporating drift detection capabilities. These capabilities automatically track changes in the system and ensure that the actual state aligns with the desired state defined in Git repositories. This is the kind of monitoring that real-world cloud-native apps need.
  • Platform engineering: Employs a range of metrics aimed at gauging developer productivity and system efficiency. These metrics are crucial for making data-driven decisions that impact the development process and the end product.

Apart from the above, all three paradigms prioritize scalability, security, and collaboration, although in their own distinct ways.

  • SRE focuses on reliability engineering for scalability and often integrates security as part of its reliability measures.
  • GitOps scales through declarative configurations in Git and inherently includes security features like policy enforcement.
  • Platform engineering scales via a modular architecture and embeds security directly into the DevOps pipeline.

While SRE and platform engineering typically require cross-functional teams for effective implementation, GitOps enables more decentralized collaboration through its Git-based workflow.

The reason these approaches have so much in common is that they have very similar goals - to ship high-quality software faster and to make sure it’s reliable and resilient in production. That’s easier said than done, which is why it takes more than one approach to achieve this goal successfully.

Choosing the Right Approach

In the DevOps ecosystem, GitOps, SRE, and platform engineering serve as complementary frameworks rather than standalone methodologies.

For instance, GitOps and SRE complement each other in managing software systems. GitOps automates deployments through Git, while SRE focuses on system reliability and performance metrics. Together, they offer a robust framework for both automation and reliability.

Similarly, platform engineering enhances developer productivity with self-service platforms and GitOps fits right in by automating many manual tasks, making these platforms more efficient and consistent.

When integrated, these paradigms offer a balanced approach to software development that combines the best of automation, reliability, and efficiency. This integrated model allows organizations to optimize their DevOps strategies, creating a more agile and robust software development lifecycle.

Unlock DevOps Automation with Weave GitOps Enterprise

All paradigms discussed above offer unique strengths, yet they also share common principles that can be harnessed to optimize the software development process. Only when organizations grasp these subtleties can they make educated choices about their cloud-native architecture. Whether it's the reliability-focused approach of SRE, the consistency and continuous deployment offered by GitOps, or the developer productivity of platform engineering, the choice ultimately hinges on what best serves an organization's unique needs today.

If you’re looking to get the best of all worlds between GitOps, SRE, and Platform Engineering, Weave GitOps Enterprise could be the key to unlocking your organization's full potential. Designed to facilitate robust, efficient, and agile software development lifecycles, Weave GitOps Enterprise provides the specialized tools and expertise you need to make the most of these three fundamental approaches to software delivery. Contact us for a demo today.

Further reading

A Closer Look at Weave GitOps Enterprise Features

What is Flux CD?

Guide to GitOps

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