By leveraging tools that are customary to a developer’s workflow, GitOps makes infrastructure definition and management inclusive for developers. It allows developers and operations teams to collaborate on the state of an application’s environment through a pull/merge request. When the code change is committed, it is reviewed and automatically built and tested using a CI tool, after which the code gets merged into the principal repository.
A GitOps operator then replicates the code change in the live application environment. The GitOps acts as a bridge between the Git repository and the Kubernetes environment. It monitors the Git repository for any code change and automatically replicates the difference in the live environment to bring both the application and environment to a convergence.
Weaveworks, the initiator of GitOps describes GitOps as an operating model for building cloud native applications. The company states that the following principles should be in place to start managing your K8s cluster using GitOps:
In a tweet, Kelsey Hightower declared that “GitOps is the best thing since configuration as code. Git changed how we collaborate, but declarative configuration is the key to dealing with infrastructure at scale, and sets the stage for the next generation of management tools.”
GitOps makes the development workflow straightforward. It is mainly used to streamline and automate the following aspects:
GitOps enables you to scroll between versions of configurations or changes made in Git. If you are versioning your infrastructure, you will always have a single source of truth for its state.
GitOps is a DevOps best practice based on cooperation, continuous improvement, and automation. It allows teams to work on projects more effectively since it provides a platform for discussions, comments, ideas, and approvals.
GitOps is critical for managing compliance because it makes all changes to the computing environment observable, verifiable, and auditable. Before merging to a Git branch, any changes must be inspected to ensure they fulfill compliance and regulatory standards.
GitOps enables running and managing automated tests consistently to ensure the software meets the requirements before changes validation. These consistent tests are all-around, spanning from code integration tests, accessibility testing, functional testing to performance testing.
This article will explore some of the best open source tools that can help you enable GitOps workflow in your application environment by automating the testing and deployment of IaC codes.
FluxCD is a continuous delivery tool that synchronizes the Kubernetes environment with a declarative configuration source. It monitors changes to the version control system and automatically updates and deploys new codes to the environment.
It is installed inside the Kubernetes cluster and pulls every code changes from the source control to the Kubernetes environment, where it is granted permission to change. It is a CNCF project designed for Kubernetes that offers extensibility and integration with multiple tools, including Kustomize, GitLab, and webhooks.
ArgoCD is a continuous delivery tool that follows the GitOps principle to declaratively define the state of a Kubernetes environment by using Git repository as the source of the desired state. It automates the tracking and deployment of the Kubernetes manifest defined in the Git version control system. ArgoCD supports different Kubernetes manifest definition formats, including helm, jsonnet, and ksonnet. IU offers a GUI which enables you to easily track and monitor the state of your application environment and revert changes quickly if there is any instability.
Jenkins X is a cloud native continuous delivery pipeline automation tool with a GitOps-based deployment capacity. It allows you to define the Kubernetes environment using namespaces and store the configuration in a Git repository. Jenkins X can run and automate a CI/CD pipeline more simplified than the native Jenkins. It monitors the infrastructure’s Git repository. When a developer changes and commits a code to the Git repository, Jenkins X builds and tests the code change, merges it to the master branch, and automatically deploys it to bring the environment’s state to a convergence with the state defined in the repository.
GitOps engine is a library for implementing GitOps practices in a CI/CD pipeline. The ArgoCD team initially developed it, and GitLab has further enhanced it. It is an open source tool that offers various features, including auto-creation and custom definition of namespaces, Kubernetes resources definition, Kubernetes manifest generation, and resources reconciliation. GitOps engine is an easily configured GitOps operator to reconcile and synchronize Kubernetes resources with a Git repository
Bedrock is an open source tool that automates the definition and deployment of production Kubernetes clusters using an end-to-end GitOps-based workflow. It automatically creates a repository, observes, and maintains a continuous deployment of the repository changes to the cluster. Bedrock is a project managed by Microsoft with functionalities that enables it to deploy and manage service workloads from source code to their deployment in-cluster.
Written in Golang, Werf is an open source tool that helps you enable GitOps delivery from a command-line interface. Werf creates a GitOps pipeline that can be embedded in a CI/CD pipeline by building the infrastructure’s Docker images and uses a helm chart to deploy the configuration code from a Git repository that it uses as the only source of the actual state of the environment. When the desired state is defined in a Git repository, Werf synchronizes the code changes in the application’s Docker registry and the Kubernetes cluster.
kpt is an open source continuous configuration tool that uses a GitOps-based approach to package, customize, validate, update and publish Kubernetes resources. It enables developers to define code changes from their CLI. When the changes are committed to the Git repository, kpt will build and inject the image into the CI/CD pipeline. It will be deployed to the Kubernetes environment.
Flagger is a continuous delivery tool that automates the management and release of Kubernetes applications. In combination with FluxCD, Flagger helps to build a fully automated CI/CD pipeline for the canary deployment of Kubernetes resources.
Vault Secrets Operator is a Kubernetes management tool that enables you to create Kubernetes secrets from Vault using a secure GitOps based workflow. It helps you commit your Kubernetes secrets to our git repository using a custom resource. When there is a change in the Git repository, Vaul Secret Operator looks up the difference between the repository and the Kubernetes environment and synchronizes the Kubernetes environment to the secret defined in the Git repository.
Fabrikate helps you leverage the Helm chart to define Kubernetes resources and configuration for multiple environments using a GitOps enabled workflow. Designed to be integrated into CI/CD pipeline, Fabrikate takes a high-level deployment description, a target Kubernetes environment, and uses a Helm chart to keep the Kubernetes environment in sync with the environment.
Eunomia is a GitOps operator that enables GitOps-based automation for Kubernetes environments. It supports the declaration of Kubernetes resources and configuration in multiple templating formats, stores the manifest in a Git repository, and synchronizes it with both managed and plain Kubernetes environments.
Formally known as Kafka Topology Builder, JulieO is a CI/CD automation tool for defining an application’s configuration, topics, and required permissions for Apache Kafka environments. JulieOps emulates the GitOps model by storing the Kafka configurations in a Git repository, allowing developers to contribute or change the configurations through a pull request. When the change is merged into the main branch, Kafka automatically syncs the git repository with the Kafka environment.
kapp is an open source command-line tool that explicitly synchronizes the live state of a Kubernetes cluster with the configuration. It allows you to monitor and deploy Kubernetes resources to bring it to the same state as the live environment
kamus is an open source tool for encrypting and decrypting Kubernetes secrets using the GitOps workflow. It is a Kubernetes secret encryption tool that enables only the Kubernetes application to decrypt the secret using the GitOps model to streamline the process.
Sealed Secrets helps to manage Kubernetes secret configuration in Git. It solves the Kubernetes secrets management problem by encrypting Kit in a secure “SealedSecret” where the controller can only access it in the target Kubernetes cluster.
Compared to other fields, the number of GitOps tools is relatively limited. GitOps is a relatively new field, so don’t expect to find too many tools. In the list above, many tools have limited features and may not cover all of your GitOps needs. However, we recommend testing the 3 most popular GitOps tools: ArgoCD, FluxCD, and Jenkins X.
While Jenkins X is an end to end CI/CD platform, Argo CD and Flux CD are only CD tools. So if you choose to use Argo or Flux, you’ll need to set up your own CI tool using a separate platform. It is also important to know that Argo CD supports multi-tenancy while Flux CD and Jenkins X do not support multi-tenancy applications by default. The other major difference between these 3 tools is the installation. Argo CD is installed and managed in a Kubernetes native way. It is easier to manage as compared to Jenkins X and Flux CD.
Choosing the right tool depends entirely on the use case. Although the three tools discussed above have their abilities, each of them is also associated with some cons.
GitOps puts the power of Git into Ops however it’s not as easy as it sounds. GitOps implies a process transformation that needs a lot of discipline from all the players and dedication to transforming their approach. One of its major disadvantages is the fact that it is not designed for automated code changes to CD workflows. Users should be on the lookout for YAML manifests with faulty syntax or object references. Although GitOps is solving many problems it’s also introducing others.
The main goal of GitOps is to simplify and streamline the development process. At WildCard, we believe that this goal may be reached out using NoOps and de platforms as they simplify Dev and Ops without adding any overhead.
While GitOps implementation needs a learning phase, NoCode platforms are accessible to all users, including experts and beginners. The use of NoCode increases the rate at which containerized applications are built, tested and deployed just like GitOps. With NoCode platforms, developers can focus on developing apps rather than deploying them.
Wildcard is a NoCode platform that provides a solution to help organizations, and developers, even those without DevOps experience or coding knowledge, to successfully implement and manage versioned infrastructure using NoCode CI/CD pipelines. It enables collaboration, auditing, and automation. You can use Wildcard to build, deploy, and manage applications without writing a single line of code. Start for free by singing using Github or GitLab.