Argo Kubernetes: Making GitOps Work in Your Kubernetes Clusters

This is part of our series of articles about Argo CD

What Is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is one of the world’s most widely used open source platforms and the de-facto standard for container orchestration. 

In the past decade, containers became a common method to package software and deploy them in a repeatable, consistent way across multiple environments. Kubernetes helps manage containers at a large scale, organizing them into clusters and pods, and managing their life cycles. Kubernetes is commonly used to deploy and manage microservice applications.

Increasingly, organizations are transitioning to using Kubernetes in production. To effectively manage CI/CD in a Kubernetes environment, a new approach has evolved known as  GitOps. GitOps means that every aspect of the CI/CD pipeline is represented as code, committed to a Git repository, and regenerated automatically on any change to this code.

What is Argo?

Argo is an open source project which is in incubation status in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and is used by organizations like Google, Red Hat, NVIDIA, Adobe, and powers the Codefresh Software Delivery Platform. It helps manage and automate software delivery in a cloud native environment.

Argo is Kubernetes-native, making it much easier for developers to deploy and release applications, without having to integrate other tools and adapt their workflows to Kubernetes. Argo enables teams to implement a GitOps approach for their CI/CD pipelines in Kubernetes – it allows teams to build entire pipelines using simple declarative configuration. 

Argo manages the full lifecycle of cloud-native applications, from development and testing to deployment, release, and ongoing operations. Argo makes rapid release and rollback effortless, and promotes consistency and stability.

This is part of our series of articles about Argo CD.

How Does Argo Work?

Argo is a family of tools that enable deployments, workflows, events and progressive delivery for Kubernetes native workloads.

 Argo helps you introduce containers to your developers and operations teams when adopting a Kubernetes-based development and deployment strategy for your distributed applications.

Argo offers several components that allow developers to specify the tasks required to ship and distribute their services. Notable Argo projects include:

  • Argo CD—a continuous deployment tool for GitOps-based projects in Kubernetes. The configuration logic resides in Git, allowing you to incorporate code from your Git repository into your existing development and review workflows. Argo CD does not directly handle CI but integrates with CI systems.
  • Argo Workflows—a containerized workflow engine that orchestrates parallel Kubernetes jobs.
  • Argo Rollouts—a controller for progressive delivery in Kubernetes. It lets you implement rolling updates with a progressive deployment technique for various deployment types, including blue-green and canary deployments.
  • Argo Events—an automation framework for event-based workflows that lets you manage workflows, dependencies, serverless workloads, and resources in Kubernetes, using events from various sources.

Argo is useful for GitOps, making it easier to deploy applications and manage development lifecycles. With dev and ops teams increasingly merging, automated deployment is essential for simplifying rollbacks and facilitating audits and troubleshooting.

Deploying on Kubernetes Using GitOps With Argo CD

GitOps emerged as a way to manage Kubernetes clusters and application delivery. It uses Git as the single source of truth for declarative applications and infrastructure. Having Git at the core of your delivery pipeline allows developers to leverage familiar tools and simplify operations and deployment tasks. 

GitOps supports software agents that alert you of inconsistencies between the cluster and Git. Any detected divergence triggers Kubernetes reconcilers to roll back or update the cluster automatically. 

GitOps with Argo CD

It is possible to implement Argo CD as a Kubernetes controller to continuously monitor running applications and compare their live state to the desired target state specified in your Git repository.

If the live state of your deployed application differs from the target state in Git, the application is out of sync. It triggers an Argo CD report that visualizes the differences. The report offers recommendations for manually or automatically matching the live state to the target state. You can automate updates to the current state of an application based on changes to the target state.

Argo CD offers the following features that are useful for GitOps: 

  • Argo CD control plane—a dedicated control plane with three important components:
    • API server
    • Repository server
    • Controller
  • Argo CD repository server—stores data from the Git repository linked to each application deployed in a Kubernetes cluster. The server generates a Kubernetes manifest from the Git source code, applying necessary plugins and configuration management tools.
  • Argo CD API server—lets you interact with Argo CD via the CLI or web UI. 
  • Application controller—monitors the applications deployed in a cluster.
  • Application CRD—Argo provides a custom resource definition that maps a Git repository’s configuration code to a Kubernetes namespace. 

Using Argo CD to deploy applications to Kubernetes, GitOps style

Argo CD does not connect to a repository to read the source code of individual applications. Instead, when you build a new version of an application, you can deploy it using one of these options:

  • In the Configuration repository, submit a Git merge request to utilize the new version.
  • Automate the application’s CI/CD pipeline to push updates to the central code repository.
  • Update the application’s Helm chart – Argo CD can pull the Helm chart from a repository.

When you’ve set the configuration in your Git repository, you need to select the language of your configuration. Argo CD supports several formats, including YAML files, Kustomize, Jsonnet declarations, and Helm charts.

In addition to Argo CD, the Argo project provides several other tools that can help you deploy on Kubernetes using GitOps:

  • Argo Workflows—a containerized, parallel workflow engine.
  • Argo Rollouts—a controller for progressive delivery in Kubernetes.
  • Argo Events—an automation framework for event-based workflows.

Related content: Read our guide to Argo CD Helm Charts

Codefresh: Software Delivery Built on Argo

We recently launched a new version of the Codefresh, built on Argo, to help you meet the software delivery challenge. The Codefresh platform is a complete software supply chain to build, test, deliver, and manage software with integrations so teams can pick best-of-breed tools to support that supply chain. Codefresh unlocks the full enterprise potential of Argo Workflows, Argo CD, Argo Events, and Argo Rollouts and provides a control-plane for managing them at scale.

Codefresh provides the following key capabilities:

Single pane of glass for the entire software supply chain

You can easily deploy Codefresh onto a Kubernetes cluster, run one command to bootstrap it, and the entire configuration is written to Git. By integrating Argo Workflows and Events for running delivery pipelines, and Argo CD and Rollouts for GitOps deployments and progressive delivery, Codefresh provides a stronger security model with simplified management that works at scale.

Built on GitOps for total traceability and reliable management

Codefresh is the only enterprise DevOps solution that operates completely with GitOps from the ground up. Using the CLI or GUI in Codefresh generally ends with a Git commit. Whether that’s installing the platform, creating a pipeline, or deploying new software. The CLI/GUI simply acts as extended interfaces of version control. A change to the desired state of the software supply chain will automatically be applied to the actual state.

Simplified management that works at scale

Codefresh greatly simplifies the management and adoption of Argo. If you’ve already defined Argo workflows and events, they will work natively in Codefresh. Codefresh acts as a control plane across all your instances – rather than many instances of Argo being operated separately and maintained individually, the control plane allows all instances to be monitored and managed in concert.

Continuous delivery and progressive delivery made easy

Those familiar with Argo CD and Argo CD Autopilot will see their configurations are fully compatible with Codefresh and can instantly gain value from its enterprise features. Those new to continuous delivery will find the setup straightforward and easy. The new unified UI brings the full value of Argo CD and Argo Rollouts into a single view so you no longer have to jump around between tools to understand what’s going on.

The World’s Most Modern CI/CD Platform

A next generation CI/CD platform designed for cloud-native applications, offering dynamic builds, progressive delivery, and much more.

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