GitOps vs. ChatOps

Which One Is Right for Your Team?

GitOps vs. ChatOps


With the rise of DevOps, teams are looking for ways to collaborate more efficiently on infrastructure and application changes. Two popular methodologies for facilitating collaboration and streamlining development workflows are:

•GitOps - Using Git as the source of truth for defining and executing operations

•ChatOps - Using chat applications and bots to trigger operational workflows

Both GitOps and ChatOps aim to increase development velocity, simplify deployment processes, and tighten security. But each has some distinct differences in approach and use cases. Let's explore GitOps vs. ChatOps to determine the best fit for your team.

GitOps: Definition and Use Cases


•Uses Git repositories to define the desired infrastructure and application state. Changes go through code reviews and merges just like any other code change.

•Configuration files in the Git repository are continuously watched and any changes automatically trigger deployments to match the desired state.

•Best suited for teams with advanced Git workflows looking to extend them to operations. Works well for both infrastructure and application deployment.

•Examples: Use Terraform configurations in a Git repo to manage infrastructure. Or use Helm charts in Git to deploy Kubernetes applications.

ChatOps: Definition and Use Cases


•Uses a chat service like Slack as the primary interface for developers and operations engineers. Commands issued in chat trigger CI/CD workflows and automation.

•Changes do not go through code reviews like with GitOps. Reviews and audits of configurations and changes must be handled separately.

•Typically used for quick, low-risk tasks like building and deploying applications, environment provisioning, and container deployment. Not typically used as the source of truth for infrastructure.

•Examples: Slash commands in Slack to kick off builds in Jenkins, deploy from CI systems like CircleCI, or run Terraform or Ansible.

A case study in choosing GitOps vs. ChatOps:

A large tech company was migrating legacy applications into Kubernetes but wanted to avoid "snowflake" environments that were configured differently over time. They chose to implement GitOps to manage all Kubernetes configurations in Git repositories with mandatory pull request reviews. This ensured consistency and auditability of changes.

However, developers also wanted a quick and easy way to deploy applications to test environments or for one-off tasks. The company implemented ChatOps by building Slash commands in Slack that could deploy Helm charts from their Git repositories into specific namespaces.

By combining GitOps for an authoritarian infrastructure state with ChatOps for convenience, this company achieved an optimal balance of control and velocity. For most teams, this type of hybrid model may offer the benefits of both methodologies.

Conclusion: Finding the Right Strategy for Your Team

In summary, while GitOps and ChatOps share some similar goals, they take quite different approaches. Understanding how each works and the use cases they are suited for will help determine the right strategy for your team. Often a combination of the two may be the ideal solution.