GitOps is a relatively new approach to managing production environments with the help of automation, containerization, and orchestration technologies. The idea behind GitOps is to have all the necessary infrastructure components up and running before pushing code to production. With such an automated deployment technique, every change is deployed in a predictable manner. However, not everyone has experience with this new approach – or even understands how it works. To assist you, we have compiled six actionable GitOps best practices you can use to get started in this new direction for better outcomes and more productive collaboration.

The Importance of GitOps

GitOps is a new way of managing and deploying software. It’s not just about Git, but the entire workflow. GitOps is a set of practices that help you deploy software that is more reliable, repeatable, and efficient. GitOps is relatively new, and it can be tough to understand how it works and how it could help your team. It basically involves Git to store all your manifest files and Kubernetes to deploy the application. Companies must look beyond DevOps to deploy their applications in a highly predictable manner. Instead of reinventing the wheel, GitOps is basically using simple tools like Git to manage your deployments.

With GitOps, it all comes down to leveraging developer time and effort to help them focus on the things that matter, like working on rich features that customers want rather than figuring out numerous tools, connecting with each other through custom scripts, and making them work. GitOps is a lifesaver – your software delivery approach can be automated. GitOps welcomes developers into operations and recognizes that developers are a crucial part of the infrastructure team.

One more important benefit of GitOps is that it provides more visibility into your entire application stack and helps you achieve greater automation, leading to faster deployment times.

In a nutshell, the major benefits of this model are:

  • Increased developer productivity.
  • The ability to track changes through time.
  • Everything in a declarative approach.
  • Easy infrastructure management.
  • Automation and orchestration.
  • Better Continuous Delivery.
  • Better security with security-as-code strategy.
  • Reduced downtime.

Getting Started With GitOps

For companies that have adopted DevOps principles early, GitOps might be an evolution of what they’ve already been doing. But for people who are just starting with GitOps, the best thing to do is start small and build from there. 

I really appreciate your first step in moving forward with GitOps; you are on the right and excellent track. Before continuing on your journey, make sure you have hosted your code on a source control management system like GitHub, and one of your goals is deploying on Kubernetes. Make sure you are already employing Kubernetes in your workflow. 

The next step is to identify the tool/platform to help achieve your company goals with GitOps. Then, determine how these selected tools will work together within the scope of your workflow. Document everything as you finish each phase step by step. You may want to replicate this approach in the future, or share these steps with someone else to try. Documentation will ensure that other people understand what you’re doing and how GitOps can work for them too. From there, it’s time to deploy!

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Best Practices to Keep in Mind While Leveraging GitOps

GitOps is exciting, but getting started can be way easier if you take these simple, actionable factors into account.

Create a GitOps Culture in Your Organization

To make GitOps work, you need the right mindset for the entire organization. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes companies make when they start using GitOps is that they don’t introduce it to everyone involved in the process, making them understand why we are doing it, and what the end goal is. It might seem like a small detail, but neglecting this step will lead to failure.

Let’s say you have 20 people working on your team, and 5 are responsible for running automation scripts. If these 5 people don’t know what GitOps really is, they won’t be able to achieve the automated deployment successfully. This can lead to frustration, mistakes, and lots of wasted time. Have periodic training sessions for your developers on doing GitOps the right way at your organization so everybody is on the same page.

Start Small and Gradually Get Bigger

Once you identify that GitOps is a good fit for your organization, it is time to leap forward gradually. Whether you already have experience with automation, orchestration, and containerization technologies, the best way to get started on GitOps is by starting small. You don’t need to start with a complex environment and try to automate everything. Instead, introduce basic GitOps practices, such as Continuous Delivery and deployment automation.

Set up a simple Kubernetes cluster on any cloud provider, sync your Git repo with the infrastructure, and deploy a simple Nginx server to start with. This way, you will learn how things work. 

Start Automating Deployments

One of the goals of leveraging the benefits of GitOps is to automate deployments. This means scripts and code that you write will automatically deploy your changes without any human intervention. As a result, it’s a much more repeatable, reliable, and predictable way to push code changes and updates to production. CI/CD tools offer this automation better than any other method. But before starting, you should understand how these tools work and the types of tasks they can do before automating them. Some CI/CD tools focus on deployment automation, while others do not emphasize deployment. However, they will still allow you to automate configurations, compilations, and many other tasks that are critical to a healthy GitOps workflow.

Do Continuous Delivery With GitOps 

Continuous Delivery is one of the fundamental concepts behind GitOps. The idea is to have a production environment that is always ready for deployment and able to support new code releases. Continuous Delivery helps you develop new features faster with the knowledge that they will be deployed as soon as they are done. A powerful tool like Harness CD can help you do this job seamlessly. A development team can deploy their code to the production environment as many times as possible, and it won’t affect anyone else. In addition, you don’t need to worry about having downtime or service interruptions, because every time you push a new change, all other changes are automatically rolled back.

Standardize the GitOps Approach

As you move towards a more mature GitOps implementation at your organization, you need to standardize certain things to make sure everyone is on the same page. One important thing to pay attention to is the way of enforcing cluster or infrastructure changes. Then, to decide on whether to leverage the pull or push methodology of GitOps. The best practice is usually not pushing anything directly to the main/master branch. Instead, it is highly suggested to employ the pull approach so a pull request can act as an application to make sure your changes advance through the workflow systematically and securely. Also, the attention on automation – automating tasks that are repeatable without any human intervention.

Use Best-of-Breed Tools 

GitOps might be fairly new, but it is gaining more visibility. Many organizations like to experiment to see how they can benefit from this approach. However, since the learning curve is straightforward, this will undoubtedly be a go-to technique for lightning fast software delivery in the coming months. It is also essential to think of a tool/platform that makes the GitOps dream a reality. Some prominent tools such as FluxCD, Argo CD, and Jenkins X make GitOps easy to set up and make software deployment faster. There are also platforms like Harness, with the open-source Argo CD GitOps approach that makes GitOps a cakewalk, with added advantages of high security, visibility, advanced dashboard, etc. 

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, GitOps is becoming the worldwide developers’ crush because of its simplicity, ease of setup, and shorter learning curve. GitOps can be thought of as an extended version of DevOps. GitOps, still being a new approach, is already gaining massive popularity among the developer community.

GitOps helps developers concentrate on writing features and creating applications. It reduces developers’ time configuring infrastructure and managing complex operations-related tasks. GitOps can be achievable with simple tools like Argo CD, FluxCD, Jenkins X, and Harness. Give it a try; you will love it!

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