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GitOps – A Beginner’s Guide

By Unni MohanAug. 19, 2022, 3 p.m. Application development company
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Table of Contents

GitOps relies on a specific goal-oriented tool and is a deployment methodology which is centralized on a Git repository

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GitOps provides a framework that helps to apply DevOps practices such as collaboration, version control, CI/CD, and compliance and applies them to aid infrastructure automation.

In recent times, the software development cycle has become largely automated. However, configuring the infrastructure has remained largely a manual process. Today’s infrastructure demands are unique and some of this work is pretty complicated with the result that special teams have to be recruited for the purpose.

All these factors have necessitated that infrastructure implementation is made an automatic process. Modern implementation has to be adaptive to be able to manage and use cloud resources wherever required.

Read our blog “CI/CD pipelines for microservices – Best practices”.

Any application today is developed with speed in mind. They should be scalable too. Any organization that has adopted the DevOps culture fully would be able to deploy code to production many times in a day without any hassles. This is usually accomplished with DevOps using development best practices such as code review, version control, and CI/CD pipelines that automate both testing and deployments.

GitOps is used for automating the process of provisioning infrastructure. Just like how teams use application source code, GitOps teams use configuration files that are stored as code. This is also referred to as ‘infrastructure as code’ (IaC). These configuration files are designed in such a manner that they generate the same environment every time they are used. This is just like how any application source code releases the same binaries every time it is used.

How teams put GitOps in practice

GitOps is not one single product, platform, or plugin. There is no standard answer to this question. The method of putting GitOps into practice depends on the requirements of a team. But in this blog, we attempt to provide some tips on how to get started with GitOps. The suggestions include the use of a dedicated GitOps repository for all the team members to share configurations and code, automation of the deployment of code changes, and setting up alerts to notify the team when changes take place.

The Three core components of GitOps are IaC, Merge Requests (MRs), and CI/CD


GitOps uses a Git repository as the single source of truth for all infrastructure definitions. Git is an open-source version control system tracking code management changes and a Git repository is nothing but a .git folder in a project tracking all the changes made to any file in the project over time. IaC is the practice of storing and maintaining all the infrastructure configurations stored as code. The actual desired state doesn't need to be stored as code (for example, the number of replicas or pods).


GitOps makes use of merge requests (MRs) as the change mechanism for any infrastructure updates. The MR is where teams collaborate through reviews and comments and formal approvals are provided. A merge commits to a main (or trunk) branch and serves the purpose of an audit log.


GitOps automates infrastructure updates by using a Git workflow together with continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CI/CD). When some new code is merged, the CI/CD pipeline enacts this change in the environment. Any drift in configurations because of this change, such as manual changes or errors, is overwritten by GitOps automation. This helps the environment to once again converge on the desired state as defined in Git. GitLab uses CI/CD pipelines that are used to manage and implement GitOps automation. Also, other forms of automation, such as definitions operators, can be used.

Challenges when using GitOps

GitOps is no exception when it comes to challenges because of collaboration. Any change is tricky, and GitOps requires discipline from all participants as well as a commitment to doing things in a brand new way. Teams need to note everything down during this process change.

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GitOps requires greater collaboration, but that is not necessarily easy for individuals or companies to implement naturally. A GitOps approval process goes something like this:

  • Developers make changes to the code as required
  • A merge request is created
  • The approver merges these changes
  • The change is then deployed

The introduction of approval for a change in infrastructure may be seen as tedious and time-consuming in contrast to making quick and manual changes whenever required. This necessitates everyone on the team having to record all that is going on in the MRs and any issues that come up.

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It is difficult to overcome the temptation of making any change in production directly or making a manual change. However, with fewer direct interventions, the better will GitOps work in organizations.

Benefits of using GitOps

The most obvious benefits of GitOps are improved security and efficiency, faster deployments, and reduced costs. The other benefits are detailed as follows:

Read our blog "Microservices architecture and distributed tracing"

The advantage of using GitOps is that organizations can manage all their infrastructure and application development lifecycle using one single tool. This allows teams to collaborate and coordinate more. This translates to fewer errors and solving problems with greater speed. Also, GitOps helps organizations to take advantage of DevOps’ latest tools and practices, such as microservices and containerization.

GitOps and DevOps – What is the difference

GitOps and DevOps have some key differences. GitOps heavily depends on automation and tooling to manage and deploy code changes. GitOps is usually used along with containerization technologies like Kubernetes. GitOps is a branch of DevOps. However, it uses, Git repositories to deploy application code changes and to manage infrastructure. The Git repository is the truth file for deployment purposes.

DevOps relies more on communication and collaboration between different teams. Also, DevOps can be used with any type of application. In DevOps, the application or server configuration files form the source of truth.

GitOps Workflow – Key Components


GitOps Workflow – Key Components

  • A Git repository
  • A CD pipeline
  • An application deployment tool
  • A monitoring system

The Git repository forms the source of truth for the application configuration details and the associated code.

The CD pipeline supports all activities such as building the application, testing, and deployment.

Read our blog "Developing Microapps using Microservices Architecture – An overview"

The application deployment tool manages all the resources in the environment where the application is going to be running (target environment).

The monitoring system bears the responsibility of tracking the performance of the application and provides relevant feedback to the development team.

GitOps – How it Works

GitOps is an emerging technology and is not defined in the same manner by every organization that practices it across the industry. The GitOps principles can be applied to any infrastructure automation type including containers and VMs and can be used effectively by teams that want to manage Kubernetes-based infrastructure.

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Though several tools and methodologies make for faster deployment and easy management of code and infrastructure, GitOps focuses on a developer-centric experience. Infrastructure management via GitOps happens in the same version control system as the application, and thus enables the teams to collaborate by benefiting from Git’s powerful inbuilt features.

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