The importance of GitOps: Moving towards Cloud Native


As your organization adopts Cloud Native architectures, you need to shift your mindset.

This shift includes understanding new service models and frameworks and defining new processes to move towards Cloud Native sustainably. Through transformation efforts, you need to define and adopt effective processes and frameworks that enable engineering teams to deliver standardized services and ensure reliability and security.

Continuously deliver services while establishing effective guardrails

The GitOps processes and practices introduce tools, processes, and guardrails to enable you to deploy, secure, monitor, and standardize Cloud Native applications effectively. GitOps is not limited to Kubernetes, so you can use GitOps processes and practices to deploy infrastructure and services that you can observe and describe declaratively.

Enable GitOps by using declarative configuration languages to define services and platforms. Then, use a source control repository to manage and deploy code through continuous deployment. GitOps also leverages Kubernetes Operators or infrastructure tools to manage the state for the defined configuration to ensure drift does not occur.

GitOps principles

The following sections describe four key principles for GitOps:

1. Declare the service or platform through code

Tools, such as KustomizeĀ®, HelmĀ®, TerraformĀ®, and AnsibleĀ®, declare services and platforms through configuration languages. You store the repository for the templates and manifests in a git-based source control system to enable a single source of truth for DevOps or SRE teams.

2. Set guardrails to protect systems

You can set effective guardrails to decrease blast radius and protect systems by declaring all services and platforms and using source control.

Enforce effective role-based access control and enable effective audit logging to meet security requirements. Integrate the service or platform repository into CI/CD tools to enable deployments with approval through pull, push, or merge requests and ensure faster recovery times when you need to do a rollback.

3. Detect and manage drift across services and platforms

By integrating infrastructure tools or Kubernetes Operators into the GitOps process, you ensure that the services and platforms defined through code stay aligned with the repository. You achieve this by enabling Kubernetes Operators or infrastructure tools to monitor the current state of services or platforms and ensure that the system reconciles the desired state when drift occurs.

4. Automate services and platform deployments with continuous integration

The repository for the services or platform hosting the application can either follow a push or pull model for deployments. The pull model integrates with Kubernetes Operator or infrastructure tools to identify application, service, or platform repository changes. After detecting changes, the Kubernetes Operator or infrastructure tools then deploy changes to the environment. By using the push model, engineers push code to the environment repository that hosts the code for either the service or platform. This then triggers a build or change in the environment by using the Kubernetes Operator or infrastructure tools.



GitOps benefits

GitOps can enable an effective foundation for building Cloud Native applications. The key principles of GitOps highlight the following benefits for organizations:

Faster time to market through continuous deployment

You can increase the acceleration of new features and products to market by using GitOps practices, processes, and tools. This enables engineering teams to automate deployments, enabling faster release rates to help gain quick customer feedback and improve customer satisfaction.

Improved reliability of platforms and services

As you define the services or platforms declaratively through code, you can integrate code testing into the CI/CD pipelines. Through this integration, you can enable approval, testing, and rollback processes for changes. This helps improve the overall reliability and mean time to recovery or mean time to restore (MTTR) of applications when deploying new changes to the environment.

Standardized and consistent deployments

The end-to-end process for deploying or changing services or platforms becomes standardized and consistent when you use GitOps processes, practices, and tooling. As they manage service and platform configuration through code, engineers can understand the current and past states by viewing the repository branch logs.

Security becomes a first-class citizen for deployments

As you track new and current deployment changes through the git log, you can see an audit trail of who did what to your infrastructure and when it happened. You can use that information to meet SOC 2 compliance and ensure stability. Enforcing encryption and approval processes and defining RBAC roles for repositories can decrease the attack surface for services and platforms.

Summary

This post illustrates how you can integrate the GitOps processes, practices, and tools with a wide range of benefits. GitOps helps to define a strong foundation for an organizationā€™s journey to Cloud Native. It also ensures that you can move towards Cloud Native architectures in a controlled fashion and deliver new features faster while maintaining application reliability.

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Oliver Fletcher

I’ve been designing, developing, and building distributed systems since 2008 in both hands-on and leadership roles. I am a forward thinker who looks outwards for new ideas, transparent, and a results-driven technology leader. I understand the importance of organizational culture, teams, and growing relationships. I’m a Cloud Architect on the Elastic Engineering team at Onica, a Rackspace Technology Company.

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