Tales from the branches - why GitOps matters for business success

At the recent DevOps Enterprise Summit, Weaveworks’ Chief Operating Officer Steve George explained exactly why GitOps is so important to businesses. It’s an important point to make because, as a fast-growing technological approach, GitOps is usually discussed from the perspective of the technologist. As a result, most practitioners are now familiar with the concept of GitOps, if not the practical details. In the boardroom, however, knowledge levels remain low – despite the fact that a significant body of data now suggests that GitOps delivers measurable business value. 

In the video, Steve explains three things:

  1. The basics of GitOps
  2. Why it’s so important for business
  3. What you need to do to get started

If you’re ready to start watching now, you can watch it here. But if you feel you still need some convincing, let’s take a step back and explain what GitOps actually is. 

A quick introduction to GitOps

In short, GitOps brings the DevOps approach to the cloud native world. But GitOps is not simply a piece of software you buy. It’s an operational model, based on a set of principles to make operations teams and developer teams much more efficient. All the software is proven in commercial enterprise environments, as are the GitOps processes. 

The key pieces of software needed are the container orchestration system, Kubernetes, and a coding version control system, such as Git. And therein lies another advantage of GitOps - by utilizing software with which technologists are already familiar, there is only a very gentle learning curve. GitOps workflows can be set up and adopted fast – and everyone can use tools they know. 

As Steve explains, GitOps combines these two systems with monitoring software to create a closed reconciliation loop, in which the application running in production must always match its ‘desired state’, which is recorded in the version control system. Any deviation between the two will be detected automatically. 

Thanks to this closed loop, GitOps enables developers to work faster, because it allows them to deploy their own code without hands-on input from operations teams. All the while, there are guardrails in place to prevent developers from making unauthorized changes to the underlying infrastructure (read: breaking it). As well as enabling you to get new features to market faster, GitOps frees up operations teams to evolve into SRE and DevOps roles, where they in turn can deliver more business value. 

A proven business argument

In the talk, Steve goes beyond the key technological principles of GitOps, to demonstrate the proven business value it delivers. As he explains, businesses of any size can benefit from implementing GitOps, for the simple reason that they will all do better if their cloud applications can be updated faster, without compromising the security or stability of their infrastructure. 

Central to the argument are a set of business metrics identified by the DevOps Research and Assessment Group (DORA) in 2019. Based on original research covering thousands of organizations over a period of several years, the group found that when it comes to delivering cloud applications, there are four key variables on which business success depends. Described as measures of Software Delivery and Operational performance (or SDO measures), they correlate directly with business success, which DORA defined in terms of profitability and market share. The four SDO measures are: frequency of deployment, lead time for changes and updates, mean time to recovery (MTTR), and change failure rate, i.e. the proportion of changes or updates that fail. Download a whitepaper to explore more details. 

As the video makes clear, GitOps is a sure way to improve your organization’s effectiveness against all four SDO measures – metrics that are proving critical, in many businesses, to market share and profitability.