What is GitOps, how does it work, and why is it so useful?

Kunal Mahajan 14th Sep 2023 - 7 mins read

What is GitOps, how does it work, and why is it so useful?

IIn the fast-paced software development industry, efficient workflows and robust practices are crucial for staying ahead. GitOps, a methodology that streamlines deployment and operations through the utilization of Git repositories, has emerged as a powerful approach to managing and maintaining complex systems. By leveraging Git as the single source of truth, GitOps promotes collaboration, automation, and reliability in the software delivery pipeline.

Understanding GitOps

GitOps is used to automate the process of providing infrastructure, particularly contemporary cloud infrastructure. Similarly to how teams utilize application source code, operations teams that use GitOps employ configuration files saved as code (infrastructure as code). GitOps configuration files produce the same infrastructure environment each time it is deployed, much as application source code generates the same application binaries each time it is generated.

Key components of a GitOps workflow

A GitOps process includes four main components: a Git repository, a continuous delivery (CD) pipeline, an application deployment mechanism, and a monitoring system.

1. The Git repository is the authoritative source of application settings and code.

2. The CD pipeline oversees developing, testing, and delivering the application.

3. The application resources in the target environment are managed by the deployment tool.

4. The monitoring system tracks the performance of the application and offers input to the development team.

How does GitOps work?

GitOps operates through three core components:

1.IaC: The first is Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which means that all infrastructure configurations are stored as code in a Git repository. Git is a tool for version control that keeps track of file changes over time.

2.MRs: The second component is merge requests (MRs) or pull requests (PRs), which serve as the change mechanism for all infrastructure updates. Teams can collaborate via reviews and comments on these requests, and formal approvals are made here.

3.CI/CD: The third and final component is CI/CD, which automates infrastructure updates using a Git workflow with continuous integration and continuous delivery. When new code is merged, the CI/CD pipeline enacts the change in the environment, overwriting any configuration drift so that the environment converges on the desired state defined in Git.

Why is GitOps so useful?

1.Consistency and Repeatability: GitOps ensures that the operational environment is consistent with the desired state defined in the repository. This repeatability streamlines deployments and reduces errors caused by configuration drift.

2.Collaboration and Transparency: Developers and operations teams work from the same repository, fostering collaboration, code reviews, and shared knowledge. Changes are transparent, tracked, and auditable, enhancing accountability.

3.Efficiency and Automation: GitOps embraces automation, reducing the need for manual interventions and increasing the speed of deployments. As a result, teams can focus on higher-level tasks and innovation.

4.Disaster Recovery and Rollbacks: With GitOps, disaster recovery becomes straightforward. You can easily restore the system to a known state by rolling back to a previous commit. This capability is crucial for minimizing downtime and mitigating risks.

5.Multi-Environment Management: GitOps is well-suited for managing multiple environments, such as development, testing, and production. Each environment corresponds to a branch or path within the Git repository, enabling controlled promotion of changes.

6.Kubernetes and Cloud-Native: GitOps is particularly effective in managing Kubernetes clusters and cloud-native applications. It streamlines the management of containerized applications, microservices, and complex infrastructure configurations.

GitOps Usecase: Continuous Delivery of AWS Infrastructure and Applications with GitOps

GitOps, when combined with AWS developer tools like AWS CodePipeline and AWS CloudFormation, can streamline and automate the deployment and management of AWS infrastructure and applications.

Scenario: Implement a GitOps workflow using AWS developer tools and AWS CloudFormation to automate and manage the entire deployment pipeline.

Key Components and Steps:

  • AWS CloudFormation Templates: You define your AWS infrastructure as code using AWS CloudFormation templates. These templates describe the AWS resources needed for your application, including EC2 instances, an RDS database, S3 buckets, Lambda functions, and more.
  • Git Repository:Create a Git repository (e.g., GitHub, CodeCommit) where you store your CloudFormation templates, application code, and deployment configurations. This repository is a reliable source for your infrastructure and application.
  • AWS CodePipeline:Set up an AWS CodePipeline pipeline that is triggered by changes to your Git repository. Configure the pipeline stages to automate the build, test, and deployment processes.
    1. Source Stage: This stage detects changes in your Git repository and triggers the pipeline.

      Build Stage: Use AWS CodeBuild to compile and package your application code.

      Test Stage: Run automated tests on your application to ensure its quality.

      Deployment Stage: Use AWS CloudFormation to deploy or update your AWS infrastructure based on your CloudFormation templates.

  • GitOps Configuration: ·In your Git repository, create a configuration file (e.g., codepipeline.yaml) that defines your CodePipeline pipeline and its associated stages. This file acts as a manifest for your CI/CD process.
  • # codepipeline.yaml version: 1 pipelines: - name: MyApplicationPipeline source: repo: my-app-repo branch: main stages: - name: Build actions: - name: BuildAction type: CodeBuild project: MyApplicationBuild - name: Test actions: - name: TestAction type: Test run_tests: true - name: Deploy actions: - name: DeployAction type: CloudFormation stack_name: MyApplicationStack template_file: infrastructure.yaml action_mode: CREATE_UPDATE
    • GitOps Workflow: Developers and operations teams work on infrastructure and application changes in branches of the Git repository. When they are ready, they create pull requests and merge them into the main branch.
    • Automatic Deployment: Changes to the main branch trigger the AWS CodePipeline, which builds, tests, and deploys the application and infrastructure using the CloudFormation templates.
    • Infrastructure Updates: As your CloudFormation templates change, AWS CodePipeline ensures that the infrastructure updates are applied consistently, rolling back in case of failures.
    • Monitoring and Analytics: Track your application and infrastructure performance and health with AWS monitoring and observability tools such as Amazon CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray.

    GitOps: Tools and Technologies for Streamlining Operations

    GitOps is supported by various tools and technologies that facilitate the implementation of the methodology and streamline the management of deployments and operations. Here are some popular tools and technologies used in GitOps:

    • GitLab CI/CD: GitLab provides built-in CI/CD capabilities that can be aligned with GitOps practices. GitLab CI/CD can trigger deployments based on changes to the repository, and GitLab's Infrastructure as Code features allow you to manage infrastructure configurations as part of your Git repository.
    • GitHub Actions: GitHub Actions enables you to automate workflows directly within your GitHub repository. By using GitHub Actions, you can define GitOps-inspired workflows that trigger deployment processes whenever changes are made to the repository.
    • A Git Repository: At the core of GitOps is, of course, a Git repository itself. Any Git repository hosting service (GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, etc.) can be used to store the declarative configurations, application code, and other resources needed for your GitOps implementation.


    GitOps offers a wide range of applications across different software development and infrastructure management areas. Its consistency, transparency, automation, and version control provide a valuable methodology for organizations seeking efficient and reliable ways to manage complex systems and environments.


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