If you're a web developer, you've most likely heard about Git, GitHub, DevOps, and GitOps. While DevOps and GitOps are similar approaches to improving the software development process, GitOps is the more modern pathway used today. As companies grow and their software teams expand, they must control their software development while improving efficiency and workflow. But, getting down to brass tacks, what is GitOps really? Let's uncover all that is involved with it.
GitOps is a methodology that improves communication between web developers who collaborate on software projects. GitOps acts as a foundation to achieve automation during application development. Without GitOps, your company could lose your application all at once.
What is GitOps and Why Does it Matter in Software Development?
Web developers use tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Git to manage GitOps. GitOps is principles that companies use to manage their software infrastructure, but it's more than that. Infrastructure automation allows modern companies to meet the demands of an infrastructure built for cloud computing.
GitOps also functions as a versatile collection of tools that use Git to control the development process. When teams work together on a project, there needs to be tracking to guide the work and meet the project goals. GitOps is a fairly new concept proposed in 2016 by Weaveworks, and it works as the central repository. Does that answer help remove the mystery around the question, what is GitOps?
What is a Git Repository?
When developing software, the collection of files stay in the same place. This virtual place is a Git repository, and all versions reside here. GitOps expands from the basic idea that Git is the single source of truth or prime version of your code base.
With Git, developers get the full picture of the project and their changes, the decision-making process, and progress. Git repositories have a comprehensive history of the project from beginning to end. But what is Git? Take a look at what version control systems are.
What is a Version Control System (VCS)?
Git functions as a VCS for version control, allowing developers the ability to track the changes to their code base over the project timeline. With a version control system, several developers can work on the shared code base, track their changes, revert to previous versions, and collaborate with other teams if needed. While many version control systems are available, Git is the most popular.
What makes Git ideal for software development projects is that it's a distributed VCS. Distributed version control systems aren't limited to a single server, so they remain flexible.
With VCS, anyone can answer questions like:
- Why were the changes made?
- Who made the changes?
- What changes were made to the code?
Git facilitates more efficient workflow as well, allowing each developer to work on separate branches of code at the same time and merge them together. Now that you know about the origins of GitOps, it's time to learn more about GitOps workflows. Once you complete this article, you should be able to formulate a comprehensive answer when posed with the question, what is GitOps?
An Overview of the GitOps Workflow
Larger software projects can be challenging, but the development process becomes more structured when teams use best practices, like a VCS, Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, and code reviews. While it's clear that GitOps stabilizes and improves output, teams may still wonder why they should adopt GitOps until they fully understand what GitOps is all about.
With GitOps workflow, teams work with:
- Merge Requests — Tools that allow developers to better control their files.
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) Pipelines — Structures that allow teams to merge their code while the pipeline facilitates the changes.
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC) — Development has remained a manual process for years, but IaC automation improves deployment by offering consistency.
How Does GitOps Work?
GitOps centers around the idea of maintaining a single source of truth by utilizing Git. With Git, tracking all changes to the source code is easy, and tracking the source of problems becomes possible. Additionally, GitOps helps to maintain a consistent baseline of applications across different environments.
This way, troubleshooting issues is easier, as any changes made to code can be tracked and reverted if necessary. As such, GitOps applies more benefits to workflows to improve security, prevent disruptions, and increase the reliability of applications.
What Are the Benefits of Using GitOps?
Sure, GitOps sounds great, but why should any team use it? For that answer, you need only look at the software development industry to see that a competitive market creates demand for companies to produce high-quality software quickly. Not only do we want you to know what is GitOps, but also about its helpful features for your team.
Organizations Can Manage Their Infrastructure Configuration
With a single source of truth, development teams have greater control over their deployments, allowing for quick changes and more consistent results. Using GitOps helps confirm that changes remain secure and reliable. Any changes are tracked, making it easier to trace their source and revert them if necessary.
Since all changes are tracked in a single source of truth, there is less opportunity for errors to occur or catastrophic failure if something goes wrong. If a failure does occur, teams can recuperate in minutes rather than in hours or days.
Improved Developer Experience
GitOps enables developers to quickly make changes to their applications without worrying about dealing with complicated infrastructure setups. Your development team may be delighted after to learn all about what is GitOps and how it can improved their lives.
With simpler configurations, beginners can quickly become productive and be freed from managing unfamiliar infrastructure. GitOps allows experienced developers to continue using their existing workflows, as they don't need to learn new tools or processes.
Security is always a concern in every avenue of the tech industry. With GitOps using a unified tool for any person in the development team, all changes are tracked, enabling teams to quickly identify security threats. Since there is only one source of truth, fewer teams need access to that source, reducing the risk of unauthorized changes.
Web developers often state that Git's inherent accuracy, data encrpytion, and ease of tracking changes make it a better VCS. With its robust cryptographic security features, organizations can protect their data in the cloud and establish origin and ownership. Your leadership waging the battle again security risks will be more than pleased when they know what GitOps it and how it improved security operations.
Faster Development and Operations Teams
GitOps can significantly speed up application deployment and management. Deployment processes are automated, allowing teams to quickly make changes without having to worry about manual setup or maintenance. This part of the process is where CI/CD pipelines come in. What is GitOps in terms of workflow automation you may inquire?
Automated pipelines further reduce the manual effort needed to deploy applications, so teams can quickly iterate on their products. Automated pipelines result in an exponential increase in speed, allowing teams to move faster and deliver higher-quality applications sooner.
Despite the ease with which GitOps syncs with Kubernetes, Ansible, and other cloud-native applications, development teams must still set up their pipeline properly.
Setting Up a GitOps Pipeline: Step-by-Step Guide
With GitOps, developers can construct a single pipeline that uses multiple toolpaths but remains simple and flexible. To incorporate GitOps into your pipeline, you should:
- Set Up Your Repository — You only need a Git repository to start implementing GitOps. Find your preferred Git services provider and start pushing your code.
- Create a Git Workflow — A Git repository is the single source of truth for your project, so you must set it up that way. Create branches and tags to define your branching strategy and map out the process of creating pull requests.
- Enable GitOps Actions for the Project — GitOps requires an automation tool to deploy and manage your applications, such as Jenkins or Kubernetes. Set up the correct actions to enable CI/CD, any dependencies, and other tasks.
- Create the Infrastructure for GitOps — Establish your infrastructure for the project, such as setting up databases and configuring servers.
- Connect the Pipeline to Your Runtime Environment — Connect your pipeline with the runtime environment where you will deploy applications.
- Set Up a Deployment Process — Create a deployment process that ties together all the parts of your GitOps pipeline. This unified proecess should include how to deploy applications, manage them, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
What is GitOps in terms of how it manages workflows, you ask? In a GitOps workflow, there's a process for rolling out new changes and updating existing applications. This process includes a few steps, such as creating pull requests, testing them in a staging environment, and then pushing the changes to production. Pull requests assist in making the changes to the declared state of the application.
A GitOps operator is responsible for validating any changes and confirming they won't disrupt current applications. CI/CD pipelines use this process, but since Kubernetes is an industry standard for container orchestration, it's highly recommended to use it when incorporating GitOps into your workflow.
How to Use GitOps for CI/CD with Kubernetes
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are two important concepts for streamlining development and keeping observability at the forefront. Continuous Integration requires developers to add their code into a shared repository frequently, identifying errors quickly and keeping the codebase up to date. CD is a practice that automates the release of software updates for faster deployment of new features.
GitOps uses observability metrics, such as logging, tracing, and monitoring in real time, creating transparency across teams while promoting continuous tracking. Developers can incorporate GitOps into their CI/CD workflow using Jenkins X to automate and enhance their processes.
If you are using Jenkins X, here's a quick guide:
- The first step is to create a new job in Jenkins. This can be done by clicking on the New Item link from the main page of your Jenkins instance.
- On the next page, you will name your project and configure the pipeline. Select which repository contains the source code for your application and any other settings related to building and testing your application.
- Now that your pipeline is set up, it's time to configure it for deployment using GitOps with Kubernetes.
- To deploy your application using GitOps and Kubernetes, you must add a new stage called Deployment after any existing stages in your Jenkins job. Go to edit mode on your job and create this new stage.
- Add a step to deploy your application using Kubectl commands and another for verifying that it was deployed successfully.
Now, when you run this job from within Jenkins, it will build, test, and deploy your application using GitOps with Kubernetes. Incorporating GitOps into development allows your team to maintain competitiveness. Still, you should implement some best practices for a successful GitOps strategy.
Using Best Practices to Implement a Successful GitOps Strategy
It's clear that GitOps revolutionizes software development, but implementing practical tips can improve development speed, company growth, and software success. What is a GitOps strategy that's built for success — and what does it look like? Here are some best practices.
Start a GitOps Culture in Your Organization
Establish a culture of collaboration and frequent communication among team members. All personnel should be on board with the shift to GitOps to create a unified working environment. Have regular training sessions with your team on how to use GitOps and its advantages.
Use automation tools to take the pain out of deployments. Your team can focus on development and testing rather than manual operations. Scripts and code will help your team deploy faster and more reliably by automatically deploying your changes without intervention. Thus, deployments become repeatable and predictable.
Standardize Your GitOps Approach
Standardizing your approach will teach your team to work more effectively and provide uniformity. Define a standard workflow and use the same tools and architectures for all projects.
Can your team now answer the question, what is GitOps and how can it help the enterprise? GitOps is becoming the industry's preferred method for deploying programs in container-based settings, and it's easy to see why. It simplifies dealing with large-scale software applications, microservices, and containerization. With its ability to automate deployment processes and track all changes, GitOps is quite potent and compelling in the capabilities if offers your organization. Indeed, it is an incredibly powerful solution for managing modern cloud infrastructure.
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