Is GitOps your future automated dev pipeline?

artificial intelligence

The most efficient and reliable process of developing an application is one of much debate. The typical process goes something like this:

  1. A developer conceptualizes an application.
  2. The application is programmed.
  3. The application goes through alpha testing.
  4. The application goes through beta testing.
  5. The code is frozen.
  6. All known issues are resolved.
  7. The application is released.

That process works fine for standard applications, such as those created by .NET development services. But what about those apps and services developed by and for enterprise-level businesses that are deployed as containers, such as via Kubernetes? Does the standard development cycle work?

In short, yes … but not as efficiently or with a high enough level of agility. Why? Because the standard development cycle cannot function with the speed and efficiency necessary for such large companies. That’s where the likes of GitOps comes into play.

What is GitOps? Let’s find out.

What is Git?

Before we get into GitOps, we must first understand what Git is. Most developers are quite familiar with this tool. For those that aren’t, Git is a system that is employed for tracking changes in source code, during the software development cycle. With Git, a team of programmers can work together on a single project with a high level of efficiency while retaining the integrity of the code.

Git was created by Linus Torvalds (the man behind Linux) to track the development of the Linux kernel. Since then, Git has become a crucial tool in the development pipeline for millions of programmers, such as those who work with .NET development outsourcing. According to GitHub, (a publicly accessible hosting source for Git), there are over 40 million users worldwide.

Because Git has become so popular, it only stands to reason that it would evolve into something well beyond its original intent. Such as GitOps.

What is GitOps?

At first blush, GitOps seems simple—a container development system that can work to automatically and quickly roll out any changes found in the Git repository. Of course, it’s nowhere near that simple. In fact, putting together the pieces for GitOps can be quite challenging. Why? Because on top of Git, a number of automated directors (such as Jenkins, Helm, Quay, and Flagger) must also be put in place.

With the automators at work, any changes discovered in Git are quickly tested and, if the new code doesn’t introduce issues, it is deployed into the production environment.

Imagine not having to rely on humans for testing and deploying new code for your containers. Your business would enjoy unheard-of agility.

Here’s the gist of the GitOps pipeline:

  1. Developers add all required files to Git.
  2. An automation server (such as Jenkins) pushes a tagged image to an app registry (such as Qual).
  3. The Automation server pushes the necessary files (such as configurations and Helm charts) to the master Git storage bucket.
  4. An automated function copies all necessary files from the master Git storage bucket to the master Git repository.
  5. Another application checks the changes to make sure they are viable.
  6. The GitOps operator updates the cluster with the new changes.

As you can see, the GitOps pipeline is absolutely dependent upon automation, as is almost 100% automated.

It’s complicated but with that difficult-to-deploy pipeline comes a few key benefits for businesses that depend on containers for their IT lifeblood. Some of those benefits include:

  • Greater agility and productivity.
  • Vastly improved reliability.
  • DevOps (a development pipeline that has both operations and development engineers working together for the entire software development lifecycle) is more easily achievable.
  • Every single code change is recorded and visible to everyone involved.
  • Enhanced developer experiences.
  • Lower downtimes.
  • Higher consistency and standardization.
  • Passing SOC 2 compliance is significantly more cost-effective.

In simplest terms, you cannot achieve the level of efficiency, compliance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness found in GitOps with traditional development pipelines.

Why Would You Use GitOps?

Given the challenges brought about by GitOps, why would you want to shift to this process? Imagine, if you will, a development pipeline in which everything you deploy works exactly as expected. Or think of a process where it fails completely if something deployed doesn’t work, so you can go back through the process and make intelligent decisions based on what went wrong.

Now, imagine you’re a developer working with the GitOps pipeline and you can end your day knowing that everything will either deploy 100% or 0%. Should you return the next morning, to find out a deployment (such as an update) failed, you’ll know precisely why that failure occurred and how to resolve the issues. That’s one of the many reasons GitOps is such an appealing development pipeline.

But the single most important reason why you might want to employ a GitOps pipeline is to make the deployment and management of your containerized applications exponentially more effective.

Yes, being a company that depends upon containerized applications (such as those deployed with Docker, Kubernetes, or Microk8s) is a requirement for GitOps, but most enterprise-level companies are either currently leaning heavily on containers or they are considering the possibility.

If that sounds like your company, you owe it to yourself to dive deeper into the realm of GitOps.