Cloud Native Ecosystem / Contributed

How Enterprises Can Benefit from GitOps

13 May 2022 10:00am, by
Pavan Belagatti
Pavan Belagatti is a global DevOps influencer, technology writer and storyteller. Currently, he is a developer advocate at Harness.io.

As businesses become more software-driven and digital, they turn to software delivery and digital transformation to drive growth. In this digital era, software is central to every aspect of the business. Developers become the focal point while software drives the organization’s growth. As a result, organizations need to choose the right set of technologies, tools and practices to help their developers do better work.

Companies have embraced the idea of code review and code optimization (which is code review taken to the next level) to help developers write better code. Similarly, they have also embraced DevOps and other cloud native best practices to make the whole process of software deployment very smooth. GitOps is a new entrant in the industry, making software deployments easy. It’s also a term that’s become popular in recent years in the software development market. This article explores the concept of GitOps.

What Is GitOps: A Detailed Introduction

The term ‘GitOps’ was coined by Weaveworks’ Alexis Richardson in 2017. GitOps is a cloud native approach that aims to make the software deployment process quicker by utilizing the power of the push/pull mechanism that uses the git open source version control system as a single source of truth. It boosts the CI/CD of Kubernetes-related deployments and manages infrastructure in a simple fashion. It takes a more holistic approach to manage code, making it easier to track code changes.

It’s an evolution of the traditional practice of CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) that aims to automate the entire deployment pipeline. Git is used as the only source of truth for all infrastructure and application code changes. GitOps creates an automated deployment pipeline for infrastructure. The goal is to make it possible for developers to collaborate on infrastructure changes without knowing the underlying systems. This way, developers can work on code in their own environment without worrying about impacting production systems.

In simplest terms, GitOps is a DevOps practice to provide visibility into the production environment. It provides an audit trail of changes made to production environments, which can be helpful during troubleshooting. It also makes it easier to identify when changes were made and by whom. GitOps also provides an easy way to roll back any changes that may have caused problems in production.

Many of you might ask, “How is GitOps different from DevOps?” Below is a comparison chart that is self-explanatory.

GitOps vs DevOps

Source Credits: The Linux Foundation

GitOps and CI/CD: Hand in Hand

Given the flexibility and agility of software development today, it makes sense for most software companies to adopt a Continuous Delivery (CD) model. Software development has become continuous, with the ability to release software quickly, iterate on products and services to find bugs early, and scale-up services as needed. It’s important to remember that any software development approach is a continuous process. Even when you adopt a more traditional software development model, you’re still engaging in continuous software development with each new release. To keep your software development process agile and consistent, you need to adopt an integrated software delivery model, which seamlessly integrates the different phases of software development.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment are key pillars of iterative software development. The approach involves automating the process of testing code every time it’s pushed to a repository and automating the process of merging code from different developers every time new code is ready for release. The result is a more rapid iteration of software code and a more streamlined development process that leads to fewer bugs and more frequent releases.

With the emergence and popularity of cloud native platforms like Kubernetes, GitOps is becoming a default approach to deploying applications. Developers find it helpful and easy to use GitOps because of its straightforwardness and minimal learning curve. An agent-like technology will track the changes, and if there is any difference in the actual and desired state, it pulls the changes to meet the desired state — so the system always runs as specified.

GitOps makes pipeline management easy with a simple pull approach. If you’re working in an environment around software revisions, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Pipeline Management” before. In short, a Continuous Delivery pipeline is a series of procedures designed to help developers release code frequently and reliably, and this can even further be simplified through GitOps.

Why Is GitOps Important?

The process of deploying code/software was often thought of as manual, but no more! Iterating the code and deploying it aren’t things developers like to do manually, which is boring, time-intensive and tedious. Developers like superfast things, tools and approaches that make their work easy. This whole process of deploying software, maintaining it and keeping track of it can be made easy with GitOps.

Not just that, GitOps doesn’t require developers to learn another shiny new tool; it uses git extensively, and developers are already experts in using it. Git and its robust ecosystem of extensions offer developers a more efficient way to manage their code. The changes made will be seen with a simple pull/sync. GitOps makes configuration management and software deployments easier; this is what developers like to do instead of tedious hardcoded configurations and scripting.

How to Get Started with GitOps

For some, GitOps can be relatively new and they might require some guidance. We are highly optimistic about the GitOps approach here at Harness, and our engineers are working on a superior GitOps experience for you. As Harness is already known for its modern Continuous Delivery platform, we know how to optimize the workflows and pipelines to streamline your software development activities.

For companies that have adopted microservices and DevOps practices, GitOps comes as an added advantage. Manual CI/CD and making use of scripting to automate the pipelines take a lot of developers’ time and effort. Hence, embracing the GitOps approach will free up your developers to work on important things that matter.

 

GitsOps in action

We’re assuming you’re using a source control management system like GitHub, where your code repository resides, and practicing containerization with Docker. The next step would obviously be to use an orchestration system like Kubernetes to manage and deploy your applications because GitOps works well with Kubernetes. Kubernetes is usually represented as a declarative system where we specify things through YAML files.

GitOps glances at and scans our source control repository where our manifest files are present and compares it with what should be running in production. Then, if something is changed in the manifest files or if it finds any difference, it pulls and starts syncing the changes to keep both the actual and desired states identical. This way, GitHub becomes a single source of truth. The ultimate objective of employing GitOps is that the entire system and configurations are managed in a declarative fashion and not just the applications.

Conclusion

GitOps continues to gain traction as more communities support this new approach, and the prediction is that it will be the standard deployment practice for companies working with Kubernetes. GitOps gives developers more control over their code and helps speed up deployment. With the rapidly-increasing adoption of Kubernetes, GitOps comes as a blessing in disguise to help enterprises deploy their software in a much simpler fashion.

Let’s GitOps!

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Docker.

Feature image via Pixabay.