GitOps: An Introductory Guide
Jun 28, 2023
This post was written by Pete Osah, a software developer who is familiar with web technologies, passionate about new software technologies, and keen on developing ways to pass knowledge to others in a simple manner.
Thanks to new technologies, developers can release software and features to production at a faster pace and with greater efficiency. But maintaining software dependability and integrity requires having the necessary tools in place. Recently, different methods for tackling these issues have gained traction. In this post, we’ll be talking about the GitOps approach. By the end of this post, you’ll learn
what GitOps is and how it came about,
how GitOps works,
benefits and limitations of GitOps,
the difference between DevOps and GitOps,
GitOps tools and applications, and
how companies are making use of GitOps.
Let’s dive in.
What is GitOps and how did it come about?
GitOps is a software development approach that’s gained popularity in recent years. GitOps is an extension of the DevOps approach that emphasizes the use of Git for managing infrastructure and application configurations. With this in mind, developers and production teams use Git tools to manage infrastructure and software deployments, updates, and rollbacks.
The origin of GitOps goes back to the first days of Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration system for managing and automating application deployment, where users express their systems in YAML manifest files, which then could be applied to the Kubernetes control plane.
Weaveworks, a software company that uses a Kubernetes-based approach to deployment and management, recognized that this approach is appropriate for the Git workflow. They then realized that by making use of Git’s strengths, they could build a more reliable and scalable software delivery pipeline. They proposed using Git as the single source of truth (SSOT) for the infrastructure and application design; thus, the GitOps methodology came into existence.
How does GitOps work?
The GitOps workflow starts with the creation of an application repository that contains the application code, configuration files, and deployment manifest files. The deployment manifests describe the infrastructure and resources needed to run the application, such as Kubernetes YAML manifest files or Terraform scripts.
Once you’ve created the application repository, you can push your changes to the application repository using Git. This initiates an automatic deployment procedure that reads the deployment manifests from the repository and deploys the application to the target environment. You can initiate this procedure manually or automatically using continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) tools.
In a GitOps workflow, any changes (for example, creating a pull request or merging changes to the main branch of the Git repository) to the application or infrastructure are made through the Git workflow. As a result, all changes made to the main branch are version controlled and can be rolled back if needed.
In general, GitOps simplifies the deployment process by using Git workflows to manage the application and infrastructure configuration. This, therefore, enables teams to deploy applications with great speed and consistency while maintaining a high degree of control and traceability.
Benefits of GitOps
The benefits of GitOps to any organization are extensive. Here are some of the advantages of GitOps to your organization.
GitOps employs version control, which allows you to easily monitor and track changes to infrastructure and code. This makes it easier to roll back to a previous version if issues arise or if changes are made in the future.
Using Git as the SSOT ensures consistency in the deployment process, which removes errors caused by manual intervention.
GitOps offers a framework for automating the deployment process, which saves time and limits the risk of errors caused by manual intervention.
GitOps allows for collaboration among team members by providing a general platform for sharing and reviewing changes made to infrastructure and code.
Limitations of GitOps
Below are also some of the limitations of GitOps.
It requires a level of know-how in Git and other associated tools, which might take time for software teams to master.
GitOps is restricted to cloud-based infrastructure, which is not suitable for some organizations.
Although GitOps has gained some popularity in recent years, the tools needed for it are still developing. This imposes some limitations on its use.
As with any tool that offers access to sensitive data, GitOps introduces security concerns that need to be addressed. This includes properly securing access to Git repositories and making sure to review and approve changes made before deployment.
What is the difference between DevOps and GitOps?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of GitOps, you might be wondering how it differs from DevOps. DevOps and GitOps have different approaches to application development and deployment, even if they share some common principles and objectives.
DevOps is a cultural philosophy and approach that aims to simplify collaboration and communication between development and operation teams. It removes the bottlenecks between the development and operations teams to improve collaboration and speed up deployment. Additionally, DevOps involves using automation, CI/CD pipelines, and other tools and processes to automate and simplify application development, testing, and deployment.
On the other hand, GitOps is a specific methodology for implementing DevOps using Git as the SSOT for infrastructure and software code. This involves using Git to manage version code, application code, and deployment manifests, and using automated pipelines to deploy changes to production environments based on the changes made in Git. Further, GitOps utilizes the principle of declarative infrastructure, which implies that the desired state of the infrastructure is defined in code and its tools are used to ensure that the definite state of the infrastructure matched the desired state.
GitOps tools and applications
Below are some of the popular GitOps tools used by many tech companies in their workflows.
Argo CD is a continuous delivery tool that can be used to automate the application deployment to Kubernetes clusters. It makes use of Git as the SSOT and makes available a declarative way to manage deployments. In addition, Argo CD can detect changes to Git repositories automatically and update deployments appropriately.
FluxCD is another continuous delivery tool that makes use of the GitOps methodology. FluxCD is part of CNCF and is one of only 20 projects to be considered “graduated” alongside tools like Kubernetes and Prometheus. Developers use it to manage the deployment of clusters, Helm charts, and other Kubernetes resources. FluxCD also provides a GitOps operator that can automatically match changes between Git and Kubernetes.
GitLab CI/CD is an integrated CI/CD tool that makes use of GitOps methodology to automate the software development life cycle. It provides a Git-based method for managing the development, testing, and deployment of software.
Jenkins X is a CI/CD tool that uses GitOps principles to automate the development and deployment of software to Kubernetes. It provides a GitOps-based approach to managing the software development life cycle. Developers use it to automate continuous integration, testing, and deployment of applications.
Weave Flux is a GitOps mechanism that you can use to manage the deployment of Kubernetes clusters. It provides a declarative way to manage deployments and can automate changes to Git repositories and update deployments appropriately.
How are organizations employing GitOps?
Several organizations are utilizing GitOps in many ways. Organizations like Deloitte, Tesla, and Alibaba have integrated GitOps tools like Argo CD into their development workflow.
Another common use is for the management of Kubernetes clusters. GitOps can be used to manage the complete life cycle of a Kubernetes cluster, including deployment, scaling, and upgrades. By storing the configuration for the cluster in Git, organizations can simply track changes, roll back to previous configurations, and guarantee consistency across several clusters.
Another use case of GitOps is the management of microservices architectures. With GitOps, each microservice can be made through pull requests. This allows for good collaboration among team members, as well as enhanced testing and validation processes. Furthermore, GitOps can help with version control and rollbacks, which are crucial for microservices and architectures.
Finally, GitOps is used to manage infrastructure as code. By storing infrastructure configurations in Git, organizations can simply track changes, collaborate, and ensure consistency across several environments. This approach is very useful for organizations that use cloud infrastructure, as it allows for better automation and scaling of infrastructure.
Adopting GitOps in your organization
GitOps is a new methodology for managing infrastructure and applications that make use of Git as the source of truth for code and configuration.
With GitOps, you can be sure that your infrastructure and applications are always in a state where they can be easily monitored, tested, and deployed. Adopting GitOps in your development/production environment is a practical step that will allow your teams to enjoy development and deployment. I hope this post encourages your organization to adopt GitOps today.