Why to Implement GitOps into Your Kubernetes CI/CD Pipelines
GitOps provides a number of amazing benefits for Kubernetes developers trying to improve their pipelines.
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Continuous integration and continuous delivery have become essential to meet the demands of the modern software development process. CI/CD pipelines are popular within software delivery pipelines for facilitating software development and deployment tasks. However, infrastructure management is often tracked outside of CI/CD.
Most of the time, infrastructure and configurations are managed outside the CI/CD pipeline, even for applications requiring rapid infrastructure modifications or configuration changes like in a containerized environment with Kubernetes. In this post, we will explore the need to implement GitOps within your Kubernetes CI/CD pipelines.
What Is GitOps?
GitOps is a set of practices that enable users to manage infrastructure and configurations using Git. It leads to Git acting as a single source of truth for declarative infrastructure configurations. Furthermore, GitOps allows users to create version-controlled, auditable infrastructure management workflows.
GitOps enables users to use the same tools and processes used for software development and apply them to manage infrastructure. Since Git is the only requirement, users have the freedom to use any tool or service to facilitate their infrastructure pipelines. Moreover, users must ensure the availability of the proper repositories with Git as the core requirement. They should also prevent errors such as "fatal repository not found," which can hinder the entire GitOps process.
What Is a GitOps Workflow?
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) enables users to codify infrastructure. It allows them to define the desired state of a system and maintain that state easily without any configuration drifts. In the meantime, GitOps enables users to store this IaC configuration in a Git repository in a version-controlled manner and automate the infrastructure management process. Hence, it can be considered an extension of IaC.
GitOps Workflows start with a pull request in Git. Once the developers create the configuration changes, they are committed to the repository, and a pull request is created. When these changes are reviewed and approved, a GitOps operator, which acts as the middle man between the repository and the infrastructure, takes the new configuration. The operator compares it with the current state of the system and then carries out the requested configuration changes to update the system state to the new desired state.
GitOps in Kubernetes Environments
The goal of GitOps within a Kubernetes environment is to simplify the entire cluster management and application development and deployment process through a CI/CD pipeline.
You may already have a CI process to build the application containers and push them to the container registry and a simple CD process to deploy the containers in the cluster. GitOps expands these processes to provide a fully automated experience with greater control and observability.
GitOps allows users to integrate their declarative infrastructure configurations into the CI process. The user will create the Kubernetes YAML manifest for deployments, resource creations, policies, and so on. They will be pushed to a git repository and reviewed and approved via a pull request. As soon as they are merged with the relevant repo, the CD process automatically carries out the configuration changes and the relevant application deployments to the Kubernetes cluster.
The best part is that users can manage resources outside the K8s cluster through this workflow. Imagine you need to provide an external firewall and storage resources to satisfy the requirements of your containerized application. Users can define them as declarative IaC configurations using a tool like Terraform and integrate them into the GitOps-based workflow. It enables the provisioning of the necessary resources directly through the CI/CD pipeline without any manual interventions.
Benefits of GitOps Implementation Within CI/CD Pipelines
The primary benefit GitOps brings is greater control and observability of the entire environment. Since both application development and infrastructure management are combined into a single workflow, users can better understand their environments and the relationship between infrastructure configurations and application changes.
As all these changes are version-controlled, users will have a clear audit trail to understand the infrastructure changes and troubleshoot any issues easily. Additionally, they can ensure that all resources required by the application will be constant across the application lifetime as the desired state of configurations is continuously maintained.
GitOps also simplifies the infrastructure and configuration process and automates the entire process. The only manual tasks are the development of infrastructure configurations and reviewing those configurations before the final merge to the desired repositories. This approach leads to faster and more consistent deployments. Additionally, the codification of configurations allows for tighter standardization and scrutiny, leading to reduced errors and misconfigurations. It also helps create well-controlled and secure environments.
GitOps balances the application development process by combining both the application and the infrastructure into a single unified workflow facilitated through CI/CD pipelines. The benefits of GitOps allow for greater control and observability while still providing a simpler developer-focused automated way to manage any infrastructure.
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