GitOps is nothing new. Or, to be more precise, the principles of GitOps existed long before the term was invented. But hey, that's the pattern in our industry. It is the fate of all good practices to be misunderstood, so we need to come up with new names to get people back on track. That is not to say that we are in a constant loop. Instead, I tend to think of it as a periodic reset trying to eliminate misinterpretations. GitOps is one of those resets. It fosters the practices and the ideas that existed for a while now and builds on top of them.
What's wrong with
jx create cluster and
jx install commands? Why do we need a different way to install, manage, and upgrade Jenkins X? Those are ad-hoc commands that do not follow GitOpts principles. They are not idempotent (you cannot run them multiple times and expect the same result). They are not stored in Git, at least not in a form that the system can interpret and consume in an attempt to converge the desired into the actual state. They are not declarative.
Applying GitOps Principles
Git is the de-facto code repository standard. Hardly anyone argues against that statement today. Where we might disagree is whether Git is the only source of truth, or even what we consider by that.
When I speak with teams and ask them whether Git is their only source of truth, almost everyone always answers yes. However, when I start digging, it usually turns out that's not true. Can you recreate everything using only the code in Git? By everything, I mean the whole cluster and everything running in it. Is your entire production system described in a single repository? If the answer to that question is yes, you are doing a great job, but we're not yet done with questioning. Can any change to your system be applied by making a pull request, without pressing any buttons in Jenkins or any other tool? If your answer is still yes, you are most likely already applying GitOps principles.
GitOps is a way to do Continuous Delivery. It assumes that Git is a single source of truth and that both infrastructure and applications are defined using the declarative syntax (e.g., YAML). Changes to infrastructure or applications are made by pushing changes to Git, not by clicking buttons in Jenkins.