GitOps is an operational framework that stemmed from DevOps processes. At its core, DevOps represents a set of practices and a cultural shift that brought together development and IT operations teams and enabled faster and more reliable application delivery by automating the development lifecycle.
As consumer demands for new features increased, businesses needed a solution to deploy faster and better. Thus, GitOps emerged as a response to the pressing need to automate the operations side. GitOps applies DevOps application development best practices to infrastructure automation.
In doing so, GitOps further establishes the importance of a DevOps culture rather than acting as a replacement. Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is one of the most significant steps in the evolution of DevOps and ultimately led to GitOps, which is an extension of IaC and basic declarative configuration. Naturally, GitOps took the same approach of agile software development workflows and automated infrastructure provisioning.
GitOps is an extension of Infrastructure as code (Iac) and declarative configuration that upholds Git repository as the source of truth for what is happening in the system (software development- and infrastructure-wise). In other words, GitOps takes the operations lifecycle of infrastructure management and stores it as code in a Git repository; it is basically a control mechanism for creating and updating system architecture.
A notable advantage of GitOps is that it takes the tools developers already use for development and applies them for deploying. Furthermore, as everything happens in the same version control environment, GitOps provides a complete history of changes and facilitates fast error recovery. Thanks to GitOps, cloud infrastructures can be repeated.
GitOps workflows rely on infrastructure as code, merge requests, and CI/CD pipelines to help operations teams manage clusters and application delivery. Essentially, GitOps creates an airtight environment in which developers can test their applications before deployment.
As a developer-centric approach, GitOps allows developers and operations teams to work in a centralized version control and with the same tools, thus bringing the teams even closer together. Evolving from DevOps rather than replacing it, GitOps creates an environment that mirrors production where engineers can run tests to ensure the code will work when it is deployed.
However, the benefits of GitOps are manifold:
Through continuous deployment automation, GitOps made the jump from automated integration to automated deployment, thus leading to a complete flow. When productivity is peaking, DevOps works its magic.
Enhanced developer experience
With GitOps, developers can use familiar tools to push code instead of containers. Pushing code, not containers, goes back to IaC implementation, a precursor of GitOps as a stage of evolution in the history of DevOps. IaC follows a sequence of steps to achieve the desired state. In other words, instead of pushing a container, developers only push the configuration of a standard container that will get it to the desired state.
All flows controlled by an orchestrator are tracked and logged, allowing for step-by-step auditing operations and investigating possible issues or track improvements or regression.
Consistency and standardization
GitOps is a way to manage modern cloud infrastructure. Management and orchestration of cloud-based clusters are defined by consistency and standardization; it represents one set of rules that applies to a large group of servers/machines. Extending these rules to another group or sub-group, according to best practices, is done by expanding the initial set or by subtracting a set.
Stronger security and higher reliability
GitOps uses a version control system that allows teams to track all changes to the configuration of a system, creating a “source of truth” and valuable audit trail to review if unexpected issues occur. DevOps teams can use the GitOps history to check when a regression was introduced. Furthermore, the GitOps history can serve as a reference for compliance and security auditing or as proof when encryption certificates are modified or updated.
The complexity of cluster management leads to risks, slow speed, low productivity, complicated debugging, and compatibility issues. However, these issues can easily be mitigated using an orchestrator that handles the entire flow automatically (sometimes asynchronously) for an entire group of machines.
GitOps provides every benefit of using version control, continuous integration, IaC and automates all flows related to deployments and server management. Tens of hours of work become seconds; risks are mitigated, every operation is documented and available for future audit, can work in parallel, scale horizontally, and is automated.