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GitOps: a true game-changer for your organization?

GitOps has been a trending topic among software developers for a while now. Many agree that it is even a true game-changer. At Intercept, we have experienced that GitOps can benefit many organizations. We will share our experiences with you in this article. However, some areas require careful consideration since GitOps is not a solution and philosophy you adopt overnight. . Let’s dive into the article below and find out more about whether or not your organization is ready to harness the benefits of GitOps! 

Wesley Haakman

Author

Wesley Haakman Principal Azure Architect

Reading time 4 minutes. Published: 24 May 2024

What is GitOps?

GitOps is a way of managing software development and deployment using Git as the single source of truth (SSOT). It enables developers to use the same tools and workflows they are familiar with for code versioning and collaboration to manage the entire software lifecycle. 

GitOps leverages the power of Git branches, pull requests, and merges to automate and synchronize the changes between the code repository and the production environment. It ensures that the code repository always reflects the system's desired state and any deviation from that state is detected and corrected automatically. 

But what about IT operations? When we manage infrastructure, we prefer the use of Infrastructure as Code. We prefer Infrastructure as Code (YAML) if we deploy containerized solutions to Kubernetes. Much Infrastructure as Code is developed and deployed by IT operations teams. Is it software development? No. Is it development? Yes.  

Where GitOps is a practice often embraced by development teams, it can very well be embraced by operations teams. And to be honest, if you are using solutions like Kubernetes, we recommend doing so sooner rather than later. We also see more and more (Dev)Ops engineers taking control of deployment pipelines. There are more and more reasons for everyone to embrace a uniform way of working and leverage the power of Git.

Git and container technologies

GitOps originated from Weaveworks, in 2017. However, using Git as the source of truth for software deployment has been around for a long time. Some of the early adopters of this approach were Netflix, Facebook, and GitHub, which used Git to manage their infrastructure and configuration as code. 

Then came container technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes. GitOps is closely related to the principles of declarative configuration, immutable infrastructure, and continuous delivery, which are widely used in the DevOps community.

The key benefits of GitOps:

GitOps has plenty of benefits. However, it is important to understand whether the benefits are worth the changes in your organization. That is for you as a business to decide. We’ve seen different approaches to implementing GitOps practices among our customers, and across the board, we can state that many benefits require time to surface. Let’s see what benefits you can experience from adopting a GitOps way of working.

1. Consistency & reliability

GitOps ensures that the system configuration is consistent and reliable across different environments and stages, and that any changes are traceable and auditable through your favorite Git solution.

2. Efficiency & productivity

GitOps requires standardization. Standardization provides a means for automation and lets developers focus on writing code and delivering value, rather than managing the infrastructure and deployment processes.

3. Collaboration & communication 

We are all looking at the same single source of truth, whether that is code, issues/backlog items, or pull requests. GitOps enables collaboration and communication among operations, developers, and other stakeholders, as they can use the same Git platform and workflows to review, approve, and deploy changes.

4. Fallback scenarios 

Everything is in source control, and Git maintains history. By enforcing everything to be done “as code,” fallback scenarios for configuration errors are simply the previous version. 

Challenges to take into account with GitOps:

GitOps is not the answer to everything, and it also has some drawbacks and challenges.

1. Complexity & learning curve

GitOps requires a high level of technical expertise and familiarity with Git and the tools and platforms used for GitOps, such as Kubernetes and Helm. It also adds a layer of complexity and abstraction to the system, which may make it harder to troubleshoot and debug.

2. Tooling & integration

There are many tools out there, ranging from Flux to ArgoCD for Kubernetes to solutions like Jenkins. Look at your processes and requirements, and then for the tool that fits your needs. Not the other way around.

3. Cultural & organizational change

GitOps requires a shift in the mindset and culture of the organization, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the developers and the operators. It also requires a high level of trust and collaboration among the teams, and a willingness to embrace change and feedback. GitOps can be a great addition if you are embracing a DevOps practice, and likely easier to implement.

Integrating GitOps in your organization

Embracing GitOps practices can have amazing benefits in quality and security and can improve overall collaboration between different teams. However, the time investment can be significant. Even though there is a technological impact, the organizational and cultural impact is much greater.  

If you’re already working in a DevOps motion, GitOps can be adopted with fewer “struggles” as the principles and philosophy are a great addition to your DevOps practice in general.

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