The Need for GitOps in the Cloud-Native World

Post on June 11, 2021

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Today, every software company likes to embrace DevOps and cloud-native technologies to ensure they aren’t left behind.Not just to improve yourself but to keep up with today's digital world and competition, it is a must to be ahead of the technology curve and set the bar high. As we move along this cloud-native space, we come across many buzzwords in which some stay, and some vanish and become a fad. There is a new wave in the cloud-native ground, and it is GitOps. We will discuss this topic in our article today and see whether it is here to stay or just like any other buzzword.

 GitOps View

 

What is GitOps?

 

GitOps VMWare

Image credits: Inspired from vmware

 

GitOps is a cloud-native practice for deploying software in which Git is used as a single source of truth for any deployment resources that happen in the system. Whenever any new deployment rolls out, developers are required to define everything through Git. With this approach, it becomes easier to automate deployments and helps in higher observability. This improves deployment confidence within the DevOps team and boosts overall developer productivity.

 

GitOps requires defining the resources declaratively through Git so that you can have the state of your resources maintained easily. It encourages automating the deployments with minimal or no human interaction and access to roll back quickly to the previous state if something unexpected happens.

 

GitOps enables developers to push the infrastructure code into the environment repository and notice that a change has occurred. GitOps performs the needed changes to the environment of the software and infrastructure then moves it further into the CI/CD pipeline.

 

Simple GitOps workflow

The term GitOps was originally invented and popularized by the engineers at Weaveworks and presented to the world of DevOps as a set of best cloud-native practices coupled with tools from Weaveworks to help developers operate the complex Kubernetes workflows via Git.

 

GitOps basically works on the principle of making Git the source of truth that includes moving everything to code, storing and maintaining everything in Git. When it comes to deployment, making use of an operator deploy what is configured in Git and Yaml in a declarative fashion. Since all the developers are primarily friendly with Git, GitOps simplifies the complex workflow for them.

 

So when it comes to Kubernetes, the app code, container images, and all related manifest files will be stored in Git, and any changes are made through Git as a single source of truth.GitOps Workflow

Ways to GitOps

GitOps can have two types of deployment strategy - Push pipelines and Pull pipelines. The distinction between them is in the way we ensure the deployment environment matches the desired infrastructure.

 

Push pipeline strategy - CI/CD tools play a vital role here, and many use this strategy where the source code and deployment manifest files are stored in a single repository. Whenever a new update happens, the build pipeline triggers. The pipeline creates the container images and pushes the recent changes to the environment.

 

The pull pipeline strategy is just the opposite. The container image and declarative configuration (that are written in YAML format) changes are pulled into the cluster from inside the cluster amidst the CD engine running inside the cluster.

GitOps Principles

There are four basic postulates on which GitOps works,

  1. In the form of YAML, defining the whole system in a declarative form.

 

  1. Using Git as the single source of truth and versioning the canonical desired system/environment state in Git.

 

  1. Approving changes to the desired state automatically.

 

  1. Employing Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and ensuring correctness.

 

Advantages of GitOps

  • By employing the GitOps approach, the DevOps team can easily handle disaster recovery and manage it smoothly in case of any catastrophic event.
  • More observability with tracking any changes in the cluster through Git's strong cryptography and correctness.
  • Transparent and straightforward for anybody who knows Git, as it makes use of the declarative configuration to describe every process.
  • GitOps enables continuous and frequent deployments as easily as possible without managing a bunch of tools as everything occurs in and through Git as a single source of truth.
  • Complex Kubernetes upgrades, deployments, and features can be managed more efficiently through GitOps.
  • Since every action will be traced in GitOps through Git, the auditability will be easy.
  • GitOps empowers higher productivity through the standardization of the GitOps workflow throughout the engineering team.

DevOps Vs. GitOps

  • The DevOps workflows are based on the prescriptive model, whereas GitOps works on a declarative model.
  • GitOps focuses on the cloud-native and microservices application principles, whereas DevOps is more of a cultural aspect associated with helping cloud-native principles.
  • CI/CD pipeline is considered the primary tool in DevOps that drives innovation and automation, whereas, in GitOps, Git is the primary tool used.
  • When it comes to flexibility and correctness, there are many ways to do DevOps, and the approaches are wide open, whereas, in GitOps, a stricter procedure is followed and has some degree of correctness.

This is how a DevOps pipeline and GitOps pipeline look like,

Image source: TechTarget

Some notable GitOps tools

  • ArgoCD: A GitOps operator for Kubernetes
  • Flux: The GitOps Kubernetes operator by Weaveworks
  • JenkinsX: Built-in GitOps specialty with Continuous Delivery on Kubernetes
  • Terragrunt: A tool to work with Terraform to keep configurations and manage remote state
  • Quay: An image registry to store all the container images to work with GitOps.
  • WKSctl: Kubernetes cluster management tool with GitOps principles.
  • Helm Operator: Works as an operator on K8s with Helm to work with GitOps principles.
  • werf: A tool built on the push-based approach of GitOps for building images and deploying them to Kubernetes.
  • Flagger: Flagger helps in automating the promotion of canary deployments.

ConclusionOrganizations like innovation, while DevOps is all about automation and speed, GitOps emphasizes the single point of truth approach by making use of the simple tool that every developer knows, that is Git. While using cloud-native tools such as Kubernetes, GitOps can be an excellent path for achieving true digital transformation. GitOps is here to stay and looks like its future is all bright and shiny.

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