What is GitOps?

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This ever-popular merging of development and IT operations into DevOps has made it easier for companies to build and deploy software.

While it might seem like DevOps only recently appeared on the scene, there's now a leaner, more efficient version that has made the software development and deployment process even more streamlined. Instead of using a separate team for system administration and operations, cloud-native application delivery uses GitOps.

But what is GitOps? Read on for a breakdown of the multi-purpose operating model.

What Does Cloud-Native Mean?

To get a good understanding of what GitOps is and how it functions, you must first understand what cloud-native means and how the systems within it operate. They all affect one another, like cogs in a machine.

The first IaaS platform was released by Amazon to the public in 2006 with the introduction of AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and the cloud computing market has been booming ever since. The Cloud enables companies to deploy highly available and scalable application infrastructure like servers, databases, monitoring and analytics tools, big data collection and storage, and much more.

Cloud-native computing is a model where software is architected for and deployed on systems that are native to the cloud. When an application or service is cloud-native, this also means that it is flexible, scalable and easier to maintain because it takes full advantage of cloud.

What Is DevOps?

The first model devised for managing the software in the cloud is DevOps, which brings together development and IT operations. It breaks down the siloes between development teams and the system administration and IT resources on which they depended. With DevOps, these two worlds function seamlessly together, and the benefit is faster and more efficient development and deployment cycles.

DevOps is a set of guidelines and principles such as collaboration, responsibility, continuous improvement, and automation, whose main purpose is to help companies to deploy software faster. It's an aspect of cloud computing that must be understood to fully grasp GitOps, as it is a subset of DevOps.

What Is Git?

Git is a distributed version control system (DVCS) that tracks any changes made to a small or large-scale project. It simplifies the process of collaboration on software projects by enabling developers and DevOps engineers to track history, perform rollbacks, create and merge branches, and orchestrate testing and deployment to any hosting environment.

The purpose of Git is to be a "single source of truth" for a software project. Each change pushed to a Git repository is identified by an immutable commit hash, so you know that if you pull a particular commit identified by this hash, you are getting the same snapshot of the software that anyone else would get by pulling that same commit. Each developer has a local mirror of the repository against which they create commits for their code changes, and usually, all developers use the same mirror as an "origin." This origin mirror might be on a service like GitHub, or it might be on a private server in a company data centre. A repository will include branches, but there is always a master branch to which all work is eventually merged, and often this is the branch from which the software is deployed to a production environment.

One of the most useful features of Git is the pull request. This feature allows a developer to send a notification to the upstream that she or he has changes that can be merged. Collaboration on verifying the changes then occurs, ensuring the merge will not cause issues. Pull requests are a proactive measure aiming to prevent users from having to debug the software later on.

Part of what makes Git appealing to many companies is that it can be dispersed easily across a huge team, and allows for a nonlinear workflow.

You can have developers working on different features of your software using feature branches, or resolving bugs, all at the same time without interfering with each other. This is more efficient than a linear process, where one developer would have to finish their work before another developer could start their part.

What Is GitOps and How Does It Work?

GitOps is a cloud-native concept that puts deployment of both applications and infrastructure in the hands of developers. This means that with GitOps, you can potentially have a development and deployment system that continues running without the need for an administrator.

All GitOps depends on two types of repositories. Repositories for infrastructure definitions (infrastructure as code or IaC) and repositories for the applications to be deployed to the infrastructure. When a developer makes software changes, the software itself and the infrastructure it depends on are both automatically deployed (or updated) according to the latest versions in these single sources of truth.

The process of deployment via GitOps has the pull request at its core as a means of ensuring code meets the standards of the organization before deployment.

In terms of infrastructure, since "cloud-native" usually refers to Kubernetes or serverless infrastructure, these are usually the kinds of infrastructure deployed and maintained through a GitOps process. Kubernetes is generally the default.

Benefits of GitOps

There are a handful of benefits that come with GitOps.

First is its accessibility. It is fairly simple for developers to adapt to the model since they are probably already familiar with DevOps.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, the entire model has Git at the centre. This promotes continuity, stability, transparency, simpler debugging and rollbacks, and it doesn't hurt that most developers are very familiar with Git at this stage.

GitOps increases productivity and efficiency by decreasing downtime, and lets companies get more done with smaller teams. For this reason, GitOps is also very cost-effective.

What Is GitOps in AWS?

GitOps is not dependent on any particular tools or platforms.

Weaveworks, the originators of the GitOps name, has developed the Weave Kubernetes Platform, which is compatible with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). You can use a platform like this, or build your own with your preferred tools. The key to GitOps is in the principles used:

Use Git to describe your entire infrastructure. Pilotcore can work with you to do this if your architecture needs work.

Once that is done, you have established your single source of truth. All your operations will lead back to this.

At this point, you can start using pull requests.

Once your code and infrastructure are deployed, make use of software agents to monitor your infrastructure and ensure it doesn't diverge from the design.

Change the Way You Deploy Software

Now that you've had an introduction to this new approach to development and infrastructure as well as the benefits of using it, you no longer have to ask yourself what is GitOps? Now, you can connect with Pilotcore to find out how we can help you update the way you've been developing and maintaining your applications.

By working with expert AWS architects and customizing your cloud-native app development, you can start increasing your company's productivity while reducing costs. Reach out and take your business to the next level today.