GitOps Explained: A Simple Guide for Beginners

Bhushan Nemade
5 min readApr 8, 2024

Organizations are rapidly embracing cloud-native architectures in the rapidly evolving landscape of modern software development, where Kubernetes has solidified its position as the standard orchestration tool for containerized applications. As applications become increasingly distributed and complex, the demand for a robust, scalable, and efficient deployment strategy has never been more pressing. It must be capable of seamlessly scaling and managing these intricate systems. GitOps emerges as a game-changing methodology, poised to revolutionize the continuous deployment of cloud-native applications. Let us delve into why GitOps is heralded as a revolutionary approach.

Before the rise of GitOps, the deployments over Kubernetes clusters and Cloud were based on traditional CI/CD pipelines. The traditional deployments were executed by writing deployment scripts manually. There were some issues with the traditional CI/CD such as the inconsistency in configuration. The manual process added the drift between the actual state and the desired state of the application. These manual configurations were prone to errors causing security vulnerabilities. Changes made to the infrastructure of cloud-native applications were hard to track. The rollbacks were challenging. There was a need for a deployment strategy that would eradicate all these challenges.

GitOps is a way to implement continuous deployment pipelines for cloud-native applications. It follows the Git approach for deployments of cloud-native applications. Where the Git repository is a single source of truth.

GitOps follows four principles:

  1. Declarative: In GitOps, declarative means the desired state of your infrastructure. The focus is more on what, not how; we need to declare the desired state of our infrastructure in the Git repository.
  2. Versioned: As GitOps follows the way of Git. Like maintaining the Git repositories for infrastructure. It’s easy to version this Git repository, and it provides the power to rollback and disaster recovery.
  3. Pulled Automation: By using GitOps, forget pushing changes and hope for the best. GitOps works on a pull-based mechanism where every change made to the Git repository is updated to your Kubernetes cluster.
  4. Continuous Reconciliation: GitOps maintains the state of your Git repository and Kubernetes cluster/cloud-native environment in sync. By pulling every change made in the Git repository.

With the adoption of GitOps, we can maintain our infrastructure as code in a better way having fewer configuration errors. It will be maintained in the Git repository, which can be reviewed by seniors too before getting merged into the main branch. With GitOps we can include security scanning tools that help in scanning for security vulnerabilities. In GitOps, the Git repository is considered to be the single source of truth. This solves the issue of being inconsistent in maintaining the state of the application. GitOps employs an operator in your Kubernetes cluster or cloud-native environment. Which will consistently keep scanning for changes in the repository. As soon as the change is noticed, the pipeline will be triggered. New changes will be applied to your Kubernetes cluster automatically. That’s the continuous reconciliation, so there is no need for kubectl apply for every change.

All changes that are made in deployments of the Kubernetes cluster stay in Git Repository. These can be easily tracked and versioned, also empowering us for rollbacks to the previous state of deployments with ease. Also provides us the power for disaster recovery.

NOTE: GitOps is not restricted to Kubernetes, but most of the GitOps tools are developed for the Kubernetes environment.

Let’s understand with examples:

If you are a busy e-commerce company gearing up for an annual sale. You know that there will be a surge in traffic. For that you want your application resources to dynamically auto-scale to handle the traffic without compromising the performance of the application. For that, you write some configuration files and apply them to the production environment. If these configuration files have any kind of error or misconfiguration, it will cause absolute chaos. At the same place you are using GitOps, GitOps includes a robust testing and approval process. Which will make it hard to let any error or misconfiguration get merged into the main branch. Even if it gets merged, you can easily roll back to previous versions of configurations.

Now Imagine yourselves playing and experimenting around your cluster. Making some configuration changes, ending up deleting some important resources, or having any misconfiguration. As mistakes are inevitable. GitOps will come to save your day. As the operator is continuously scanning and maintaining the state. As it will see changes that are not mentioned in the Git repository, it will quickly reconcile and bring the cluster to the same state as mentioned in the Git repository.

In a situation where the developer finds a bug. After noticing the bug makes changes to the Kubernetes cluster as a fix for the bug and forgets to update things in version control. There will be no trace; neither the bug nor the fix will cause a loss of knowledge and traceability. With GitOps, this can be avoided. GitOps uses the Git repository as a single source of truth. To fix the bug, the developer will make changes in the Git repository. Which keeps track of every change and deployment done on the Kubernetes cluster.

Beyond this, GitOps offers fast deployments, as you just need to develop and push your code to the Git repository. Further execution of the deployment will be fully automated and handled by GitOps. With each deployment, GitOps follows the self-documenting method. So that you can easily track all the changes that are applied to your cluster by just looking at the Git repository.

In the continuously changing landscape of cloud-native, GitOps stands as a transforming concept. Revolutionizing the traditional concept of continuous deployment. Accurately detecting and solving pain points in traditional deployments. The four principles of GitOps bridge the gap between infrastructure and code. With the use of GitOps, you unlock the benefits of reduced errors, simplified disaster recovery, dynamic scaling, improved security, and self-documenting. GitOps is a whole paradigm shift, so let’s start our journey in the world of GitOps. In upcoming blogs, we will explore the tools for setting up GitOps and discuss which one suits us best for our use.

Thank you for reading😊

Leaving some resources for you.

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