During these challenging times, we are proud and appreciative that many of you gathered with us and our speakers for two informative days around GitOps - GitOps Days 2020 (May 20 and 21, 2020). This blog post is part 1 of 2 recapping and reflecting on the online conference.

The GitOps of today, tomorrow, and what you can do

We aimed to accomplish three goals for GitOps Days 2020: 1) to provide an introduction to GitOps for newcomers, 2) to offer visionary talks articulating the future of GitOps, and 3) to empower you with success stories, talking points, and training that will help you move the needle with GitOps in your organizations. I would love your feedback for whether we accomplished these goals for you.

Most importantly, we are encapsulating all of this information and donating it to the GitOps community in the new GitOps Conversation Kit (beta). This is very much a work in progress, so join the GitOps Community Website to contribute.

GitOps Days videos and the GitOps Conversation Kit (beta)!

The current version of the GitOps Conversation Kit includes mostly curated quotes from Day 1 of GitOps Days 2020. We organized Day 1 for general audiences to provide high-level talks on what GitOps is and where GitOps is going, including the business value of GitOps. Day 2 delved further into technical talks and the available tools for getting started. More on that later.

What is GitOps?

Cornelia Davis’ Day 1 talks provided a high-level understandings of GitOps for the newcomer. She showed how GitOps is an approach that isn’t attached to any particular tool. Getting started with GitOps doesn’t mean that you have to throw out your existing technologies or tools. You can start almost anywhere.

We’ve started a list of several technologies mentioned by our GitOps Days speakers that you probably use already. Your existing tools can get you started with some components or mindset of GitOps. As Cornelia mentioned, GitOps doesn’t mean that you have to throw out your CI:

GitOps = Continuous Delivery + Continuous Operation

(You may have some specific requirements for a CI tool, and that isn’t the same as throwing out your existing CI).

How do you get started with GitOps?

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Cornelia outlined the 4 principles of GitOps to consider to begin your journey:

  1.  The entire system is described declaratively
  2. The canonical desired system state is versioned
  3. Approved changes can be automatically applied to the system
  4. Software agents ensure correctness and alert (diffs and actions)

As many of our speakers shared, starting with any one of these 4 principles is a great way to begin the GitOps journey for you and your teams. Even a partial GitOps implementation will still help you and your teams to get a tangible sense of the benefits before you decide on the next steps.

For example, speakers such as Kyle Rockman (Under Armour), Vuk Gojnic (Deutsche Telekom), and others shared stories of how they started with a partial GitOps implementation that allowed them to demo to their teams, leadership, and stakeholders.

Kyle, for example, used some GitOps practices first in the infrastructure team so that they could demonstrate to the dev teams that their deployment pipelines could be reduced from 6 hours to 10 minutes! Vuk (Deutsche Telekom), similarly, showed a few people a Hello World that demonstrates some aspects of GitOps plus some resources if they were interested. In both of these examples, they grew their internal “GitOps community” from a few people to a few more, and then to a few different teams that could show how each might be practicing one of more of the 4 principles of GitOps.

What’s the business value of GitOps?

If you’re looking to work with your leadership and stakeholders to adopt GitOps, many of our GitOps Days speakers shared fantastic stories of how they found a set of shared business values to prioritize GitOps.

Reduce human error

Taylor Dolezal, for instance, said how uptime is a common go-to shared benefit where leadership and teams can find agreement. On a related note, Javeria Kahn (Palo Alto Networks) shares how GitOps removes opportunities for human error that can cause downtime. It also lowers the dependence on individual employees that might prolong downtime and burnout employees; and if you do have downtime, GitOps helps make recovery from disaster simple with easy rollbacks. These all add up to an increase in uptime, as well as to transparency and collaboration among teams.

Stronger security guarantees

Maya Kaczorowski (GitHub) gave a fabulous talk on Security, calling for Continuous Security. Maya points out that limiting and avoiding data loss and the costs associated with related security breaches are the key business drivers behind the desire for improved security. GitOps principles in practice help you to limit errors that could lead to data loss and to roll back if you have issues.

Increase developer velocity

Cornelia refers to the DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) for the 4 key metrics from companies that have grown in revenue and market share (and the companies that haven’t because they didn’t reach those metrics). Among the four, one of the top metrics is Developer Velocity. Through GitOps-based version control, test automation, and other tooling available, developers can spend less time doing manual work, getting confused about versions, and fixing problems or rolling back when there are problems. The end result is the ability to move faster and securely, optimizing your mean time to remediate (MTTR) and deploying a fix without breaking the infrastructure. These capabilities all point back to the development velocity that Maya and Cornelia show is directly linked to improved security, revenue, and market share.

Improved developer culture with teamwork

Many of our speakers shared stories about how they started to move the needle with GitOps in their organizations. First and foremost, it is important to have empathy and to work as a team. It’s understandable to feel frustration with teams or stakeholders who don’t seem to understand or who don’t want change. As our speakers shared, however, change can be difficult, frightening, and time-consuming for many of us. We have our plates full with multiple priorities and deadlines, especially during these very confusing and distracting times. That’s why it’s important to be empathetic: (as our speakers shared) ask lots of questions, be curious about different people’s positions and concerns, find shared goals, and make the onboarding and user experiences positive for your team.

Next steps

We’ve got part 2 of our GitOps Days review coming soon and updates to the GitOps Conversation Kit. Let me know if GitOps Days worked for you or help us improve the kit.

We’re also planning a future GitOps Days 2020 EMEA to accommodate a European time zone, so more to come on that.

Please be safe and do one kind thing for someone you know or don’t know. 🙇🏻‍♀️