What is GitOps?
GitOps refers to code-based infrastructure and operational practices that rely on Git as a version control system. GitOps contains declarative descriptions of infrastructure with a collaboration-centric flow, which involves PR with merges, serving as triggers for verifying and applying the change.
Why should we use GitOps?
From the definition, it is easy to see how GitOps can bring a lot of advantages to the table - it is like Infrastructure-as-Code (IAC) on steroids. With today's rapid pace of software development, you need a more robust operational solution to implement infrastructure automation and efficiently handle frequent deployments.
In this blog, we cover some of the most prominent benefits associated with implementing a GitOps model in your organisation.
GitOps with GitLab: The bigger picture
Explore the benefits of utilising GitOps through GitLab to truly do everything as code, with more automated interactions and increased clarity of process.
The benefits of GitOps for teams
1. Improved collaboration
By keeping the entire state of your environment under source control, a GitOps-based approach makes it easier to make infrastructure changes and adjustments as needed.
PRs (also known as merge requests in tools like GitLab) are a powerful mechanism to collaborate on the infrastructure code and create operational changes. When a pull request (PR) is made, teams across the entire development lifecycle – from dev and ops teams to security, compliance, and business stakeholders – can weigh in on infrastructure changes.
Every update goes through the same scrutiny process, where teams can share feedback on the proposed changes, approve the changes, or ask for further changes before the PR is merged.
2. Increased deployment speed and frequency
Deployment automation, along with an integrated mechanism for collaboration and feedback, can greatly increase the speed and frequency of deployments. Essentially, it ensures that smaller changes get pushed and tested frequently – rather than waiting for an entire build to be shipped to test and monitor changes.
Troubleshooting also becomes easier since smaller changes are easier to reason about and roll back if there is a problem.
3. Increased reliability
With Git's revert/rollback capabilities, rolling back to the last known good configuration when you experience problems is straightforward. Since your entire system is defined in Git, you can quickly recover during an incident by rolling back, slashing your mean time to recovery (MTTR) from days or hours to minutes.
4. Improved stability
In a GitOps workflow, audit logs are automatically created for reviewing and monitoring all changes (since everything is in Git). With details such as who commits the changes and the results of those changes recorded every step of the way, you can ensure greater stability of the system.
5. Consistency and standardisation
Instead of relying on IT teams or unwieldy scripts for environment provisioning, you can define all environments as code and use a single model for deploying the environment along with all applications in a consistent manner.
6. Ease of adoption
Git is the de facto standard of version control systems and a popular software development tool for most dev teams. This essentially means any developer familiar with Git can make operational changes and participate in GitOps, lowering the cost of entry.
7. Greater efficiency
Efficiency also shoots up since you don't have to switch tools to manage updates to software environments. Everything happens in the same version control system you use to develop the application.
Plus, teams can observe results in real-time and use Git history to roll back if the new changes don't behave as expected. This is incredibly powerful since it empowers teams to use the familiar "undo" functionality in a complicated infrastructure setting.
8. More flexibility to experiment
One key concern preventing dev teams from experimenting is fear of what happens if things go wrong. The answer isn't to avoid making errors at all costs — it's to have a rapid and convenient way to recover when something goes awry.
GitOps practices provide a complete history of how your environment changed over time. This ensures error recovery is as simple as issuing a git revert to restore your environment to the previous state.
9. More robust security
Leveraging the Git repository as a single source of truth for infrastructure definitions significantly boosts overall security. Any and all changes made throughout the application lifecycle can be held in version control and are auditable.
Visibility to change significantly reduces the risk of inadvertent, manual errors. Any drift from the desired state (whether inadvertent or malicious) can be instantly detected and corrected before they go into production.
For additional security, using a "pull-based operator" in your GitOps system allows you to hide credentials and other secrets within your environments (usually Kubernetes clusters) rather than in a more traditional CI/CD system or within the code itself.
10. Improved compliance and auditing
With manual tools, auditing becomes a cumbersome process. Pulling data from multiple places to answer compliance questions can be extremely time-consuming.
Using a GitOps-based approach, the policy can be defined in a declarative format and stored as code in a specific git repo. So your source code management system becomes a one-stop shop for audit logs of every change.
You can look at Git logs and understand who did what, when and why, and how that impacted deployment.
Additionally, permissions can be built in with the pull request or merge request workflow, showing who signed off on a change and when. While anyone can propose changes, you can simultaneously keep the pool of people who can merge those changes limited to a smaller number.
Want to learn more?
Contact us to learn how our teams of GitOps experts can help you drive infrastructure automation and manage your system more effectively.