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What Is GitOps and How Can It Help Your Compliance Efforts?

Editorial Team
by Atlantic.Net (268 posts) under HIPAA Compliant Hosting
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What is GitOps?

GitOps is an architectural design pattern that can be applied to many infrastructure and cloud-native applications. It uses Git as the primary source of truth for coding infrastructure and continuous delivery systems.

GitOps is now one of the primary ways software development teams manage and deliver code and software products. Having a single source of information about your code provides many opportunities for improving the software development process and the process for provisioning development environments.

Before GitOps, it was challenging for developers to configure, configure, and manage environments and servers according to their needs. Previously, it was possible to do this only by writing many shell scripts, but there was a limit on the amount of infrastructure that could be configured on demand.

How Does GitOps Work?

A typical workflow for a GitOps environment is

  1. A developer submits a pull request to the Git repository.
  2. Code is reviewed and approved by stakeholders.
  3. Developers merge the code into a Git repository.
  4. The CI build pipeline is triggered when changes are detected. The CI tool runs the tests automatically. If the code passes all tests, it builds the image and pushes it to the image container.
  5. A deployment Automator component detects changes in the image repository and updates the YAML file in the configuration repository by pulling from the registry.
  6. A deployment synchronizer component detects changes in the cluster. It pulls changes from the configuration repository and updates the cluster with new features.

In this way, any deviation from the system configuration state, such as the appearance of bugs, is caught early in the development process. So, when implemented properly, GitOps is an effective way to move quality and security further to the left and detect vulnerabilities, bugs, and a variety of other common code quality issues early in the process.

So GitOps is a tool for managing your infrastructure and another opportunity to transform your security.

Finally, GitOps also speeds up pipeline changes. So, when the worst happens, and your developer pipeline is compromised, GitOps quickly responds to your security issues by rolling back to a safe version of the pipeline.

Common Challenges in Software Compliance

Here are key issues organizations need to consider when ensuring compliance in software environments:

  • Observability: Is someone breaking into the system and changing records and infrastructure? Answering this question is often a complex process. When providing information to auditors or meeting internally defined standards, it is usually not enough to rely on records or audit trails created manually using spreadsheets.
  • Change management: Do you store data about changes in one place? Because there are so many moving parts for a development team, it can be difficult to know who is making changes to the infrastructure or connecting to servers and containers via SSH. It’s hard to see what’s going on and log this data in one place.
  • Secure ownership: As the shift-left mindset becomes more prevalent, businesses must focus on preventing problems rather than finding them, reducing the burden on their security teams. Developers must share security responsibilities when building software.

Using GitOps for Compliance

Policies as code are references to rules encoded in the software delivery pipeline. These rules encapsulate and enforce organizational policies related to security, compliance, and basic coding or configuration standards. It only works if the entire pipeline is automated. Fortunately, thanks to the open-source nature of Kubernetes and GitOps components, all the tools you need are available at a minimal cost.

GitOps leverages the declarative capabilities of Kubernetes to provide the same level of versioning that developers traditionally enjoyed for the codebase, across their entire application architecture, including the cluster’s configuration itself. This means putting all configuration information and application code into a Git repository. This makes Git more than just a source of code. It becomes a single source of information for the entire organization.

The compliance role of GitOps agents

At the heart of GitOps is a software agent that acts as an intermediary between Kubernetes and Git. An agent sits between these two components and continuously monitors the live application, comparing the actual state to the ideal state of the Git code and configuration. An alert is displayed to the platform team if drift is detected.

These agents are, therefore essential to GitOps, and represent a new and highly efficient method for automating CI/CD pipelines. But an important secondary goal is to remain secure and compliant—from when an application enters development to when it is launched. Monitoring and alerting is not enough—teams need the ability to set security guardrails, so everyone maintains security practices against cybersecurity threats.

How GitOps automates compliance checks

Automating security and compliance checks enables fully automated, reliable, secure deployments. Policy-as-code automatically detects misconfigurations, notifies the platform team, and pauses deployments if necessary.

You also need to be flexible in applying your policies. This goes beyond RBAC—administrators should be free to choose where and how each policy is applied across workloads, environments, and geographic regions. Policy violations must be alerted to the right person at the right time. This means that checks should be triggered automatically at all key points in the pipeline, including commit, build, deployment, and production.

Speeding up the pipeline with no compliance worries

The ultimate goal is to speed up the pipeline without causing security or compliance problems. Of course, another goal is to make everything functional, safe, and compliant. These two goals are often contradictory—because the higher the speed, the more frequently software is deployed, and the fewer opportunities there are to fix security holes, compliance failures, and outdated misconfigurations.

The only answer is automation. However, automation is not possible without intelligence built into the system to prevent these problems when they occur. This intelligence is delivered by policy as code.

Conclusion

In conclusion, GitOps is a way of managing infrastructure and applications using Git as a source of truth. By storing the system’s desired state in a Git repository and automating the deployment of changes, GitOps can help organizations improve their software compliance efforts.

GitOps agents can automate compliance checks and ensure that the system is aligned with all relevant compliance requirements by enforcing policies as code. GitOps can automate many of the processes related to software management, helping organizations to improve and simplify compliance efforts, such as HIPAA compliance, and improve visibility and auditability. Learn more about HIPAA-compliant hosting with Atlantic.Net.

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