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Event-driven solution GitOps


Updated 2/15/2022

Audience: Architects, Application developers, Site reliability engineers, Administrators


The purpose of the tutorial is to teach architects, developers and operations staff how to deploy a production-ready event-driven solution OpenShift Container Platform. It makes extensive use of the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration (CP4I) and other cloud native technologies such as Tekton, Kustomize, ArgoCD, Prometheus, Grafana and Kibana.

GitOps is a declarative way to implement continuous deployment for cloud-native applications. The Red Hat® OpenShift® Container Platform offers the OpenShift GitOps operator, which manages the entire lifecycle for Argo CD and its components.

Argo applications are added to the Argo CD server. An application defines the source of the Kubernetes resources and the target cluster where those resources should be deployed. The Argo CD server "installs" a Cloud Pak by synchronizing the applications representing the Cloud Pak into the target cluster.

System context

A system context diagram helps us understand how our system interacts with its different users and other systems. For a generic event-driven solution the diagram looks like


We can see the different entities that interact with a typical event-driven solution deployment. These include users as well as applications and messaging as a service infrastructure which includes event backbone, queueing systems, schema registry, API management, governance platform and monitoring components.

We'll be developing the Event-driven solution deployment at the centre of the diagram. We can see that it connects applications to systems and infrastructure. Its users are at least developers, SREs, Kubernetes administrators, architects...

Components for GitOps

The following diagram shows the technical components used in a typical event-driven solution production deployment.


(the source code of this diagram is a `.drawio format and is in the diagrams folder.)

The diagram organizes the components according to when they are introduced in system development (earlier or later) and whether they are a relatively high level application-oriented component, or a relatively low level system- oriented component. For example, GitHub is a system component that is fundamental to how we structure the event-driven solution deployment. In contrast, streaming or event-driven applications are higher level components, and requires other components to be deployed prior to them.

The color coding illustrates that blue components are part of the solution, red are part of the GitOps on OpenShift and green components are externals to OpenShit cluster, most likely event if they could be. Kustomize represents way to define deployment, and Sealed secret is a service to manage secrets.

As part of the later components to deploy, we have addressed everything to monitor the solution and the infrastructure.

Here is a brief introduction of those components:

Event-driven applications

Those applications are supporting business logic, microservice based, and using Reactive messaging, MQ or Kafka APIs. Those applications provide OpenAPIs to the mobile or web applications but also AsyncAPI when they produce events to Kafka or messages to MQ. OpenAPI and AsyncAPI definitions are managed by API manager and event end-point manager.

Schema definitions are managed by a Schema Registry.

Event-streaming applications

Those applications are also supporting business logic, but more with stateful processing using Kafka Stream APIs or different product such as Apache Flink.

Queue manager

A queue manager provides queueing services via one of the many MQ APIs. A queue manager hosts the queues that store the messages produced and consumed by connected applications and systems. Queue managers can be connected together via network channels to allow messages to flow between disparate systems and applications on different platforms including on-premise and cloud systems.

OpenShift GitOps or ArgoCD

OpenShift GitOps (ArgoCD) is used for the continuous deployment of software components to the Kubernetes cluster. OpenShift GitOps watches a Git repository for new or changed Kubernetes resource definitions, and applies them to a cluster. In this way, OpenShift GitOps ensures that the component configuration stored in GitHub always reflects the state of the cluster.

OpenShift GitOps also has the added benefit of being able to monitor resources that it has deployed to ensure that if they drift from their desired values, they will be automatically restored to those values by OpenShift GitOps.

OpenShift Pipelines or Tekton

OpenShift Pipelines (Tekton) is used to automate manual tasks using the concept of a pipeline. A pipeline comprises a set of tasks that are executed in a specified order in order to accomplish a specific objective.

We use pipelines as part of the continuous integration process to build, test and deliver event-driven applications ready for deployment by OpenShift GitOps.

Queue manager

A queue manager provides queueing services via one of the many MQ APIs. A queue manager hosts the queues that store the messages produced and consumed by connected applications and systems. Queue managers can be connected together via network channels to allow messages to flow between disparate systems and applications on different platforms including on-premise and cloud systems.

Sealed secrets

Very often a component has a Kubernetes secret associated with it. Inside the secret might be a private key to access the IBM entitled container registry, for example. For obvious reasons, we don't want to store the secrets in GitHub with the rest of the configuration.

A sealed secret solves this problem by introducing a new kind of Kubernetes resource. A sealed secret is created from a regular secret, and can be safely stored in a Git repository. A deployment time, the sealed secret controller will recreate the secret in its original form so that it can be access by components with the appropriate RBAC authority.

Image Registry

OpenShift contains a registry for storing container images. Images are built and stored by OpenShift Pipelines as part of the CICD process. Tekton pipelines and ArgoCD also retrieve the latest best images from the image registry to ensure that what's being tested or deployed in higher environments is the same as what's tested in development environments.

We often refer to uploading images as pushing and downloading images as pulling.

Cert manager

Managing certificates is a difficult process; certificate creation requires a Certificate Authority (CA), certificates expire after a period of time, and private keys can sometimes be compromised -- requiring a certificate to be revoked and a new one issued.

Cert manager makes all these processes relatively straightforward by introducing new Kubernetes resources for certificate issuers and certificates. These resource types radically simplify the management of certificates: their creation, expiry and revocation.

Moreover, Cert manager makes it feasible to adopt mutual TLS (mTLS) as an authorization strategy in Kafka based solution.


Prometheus is used in conjunction with Grafana. It stores the different component's metrics as a set of tuples in a time-series , which allows it to be subsequently used to create Grafana views to assist with monitoring Kafka brokers, MQ queue managers, schema registry....


Kubernetes resources have their operational properties defined using YAMLs. As these resources move through environments such as dev, stage and prod, Kustomize provides a natural way to adapt (customize!) these YAMLs to these environments. For example, we might want to change the CPU or memory available to a service in a production environment compared to a development environment.

Because Kustomize is built into the kubectl and oc commands via the -k option, it makes configuration management both easy and natural.


This popular version control system is based on git and stores the event-driven application source code and configuration as well as the other Kubernetes resources. By keeping our event-driven applications and configurations in Git, and using that to build, test and deploy our applications to the Kubernetes cluster, we have a single source of truth -- what's in Git is running in the cluster.

Moreover, by using Git operations such as pull, push and merge to make changes, we can exploit the extensive governance and change control provided by Git when managing our event-driven solution estate.

OpenShift (Kubernetes) Cluster

This is the "operating system" used to orchestrate our applications and related component containers. Kubernetes is portable across on-premise and cloud systems and allows us to easily scale our workloads across these environments as required.

High-level architecture view

Using a GitOps approach we can design a high-level architecture view for the deployment of all the previously listed components. It is important to recall that most of the RedHat and IBM products used in event-driven solution are using Operators and Custom resources manifests to deploy operands.

Operator is a long running process that performs products (Operands) deployment and Day 2 operations, like upgrades, failover, or scaling. Operator is constantly watching your cluster’s desired state for the software installed. Helm and Operators represent two different phases in managing complex application workloads on Kubernetes. Helm’s primary focus is on the day-1 operation of deploying Kubernetes artifacts in a cluster. The ‘domain’ that it understands is that of Kubernetes YAMLs that are composed of available Kubernetes Resources / APIs. Operators, on the other hand, are primarily focused on addressing day-2 management tasks of stateful / complex workloads such as Postgres, Cassandra, Spark, Kafka, SSL Cert Mgmt etc. on Kubernetes.

Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) helps you to deploy, and update, and generally manage the lifecycle of all of the Operators (and their associated services) running across your clusters

The Operators deployment is part of a bootstraping step of the GitOps process. We are using a special Git repository to manage a catalog of operator definitions/ subscriptions. This is the goal of the eda-gitops-catalog repository.

A solution will have a specific gitops repository that manages services (operands) and application specifics deployment manifests.

With this base, the following figure illustrates a potential architecture:

(the source code of this diagram is a `.drawio format and is in the diagrams folder.)

Here are the assumptions we define for any event-driven solution:

  • Single admin team for OCP cluster and production projects within the cluster.
  • Developers manages staging and dev environment. This is a functional team developing the solution
  • For the solution one gitops will define all environments and apps/services of the solution.
  • Developers will not have access to OpenShift cluster administration
  • Cloud Pak for integration operators are installed in all namespaces, and there is only one instance of each operator.
  • Only one Platform Navigator installed per cluster (in all namespaces) and it displays instances of capabilities from the whole cluster.
  • ibm-common-services is unique to the cluster.

For real production deployment, the production OpenShift cluster will be separated from dev and staging, running in different infrastructure, but using the same github source. The top-right cluster is for dev and staging, and each of those environmentd will be in different namespace. To enforce isolation and clear separation of concern, each of those dev or staging namespace, may have Event Streams, MQ brokers, schema registry deployed.

The openshift-operators is used to deploy Operators that manage multiple namespaces. The openshift-gitops is for the ArgoCD server and the ArgoCD apps.

GitOps Model

Gitops is a way of implementing Continuous Deployment for containerized applications.

The core idea of GitOps is having a Git repository that always contains declarative descriptions of the infrastructure currently desired in the production environment and an automated process to make the production environment matches the described state in the repository.

From the diagram above, we can see two main components that are essentials to a production-ready event-driven solution deployment:

  • A Kubernetes cluster containing:

    • event-driven applications per namespace / project to facilitate isolation
    • Event Streams, API mangement, MQ operators per namespace / project
    • Kafka brokers, Kafka connect, mirror maker, schema registry, End point event gateway, API manager, MQ queue managers per namespace / project
    • OpenShit GitOps, Pipelines,...
  • GitHub as a source of truth for the cluster runtime containing:

    • application source with schema definitions
    • application configuration
    • Kafka Cluster configuration
    • Topic configuration
    • OpenAPI and AsyncAPI documents
    • Kafka Connnector configuration
    • Mirror maker configuration
    • Queue manager configuration

GitHub repositories

We propose to use one GitOps Catalog to centralize the Operator subscription definitions with Kustomize overlays to control operator versioning. An example of such catalog is the eda-gitops-catalog. Each operator is defined with the subscription manifest and then overlays to change the product version. Here is an example for Event Streams:

├── event-streams
│   │   ├──
│   │   └── operator
│   │       ├── base
│   │       │   ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │       │   └── subscription.yaml
│   │       └── overlays
│   │           ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │           ├── v2.3
│   │           │   ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │           │   └── patch-channel.yaml
│   │           ├── v2.4
│   │           │   ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │           │   └── patch-channel.yaml
│   │           └── v2.5
│   │               ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │               └── patch-channel.yaml

The subscription.yam is classical operator definition:

kind: Subscription
  name: ibm-eventstreams
  namespace: openshift-operators
  channel: stable
  name: ibm-eventstreams
  installPlanApproval: Automatic
  source: ibm-operator-catalog
  sourceNamespace: openshift-marketplace

And then each overlays use this manifest as a base resource and apply patch for channel and version:

# kustomization.yaml under an overlays
  - ../../base

- path: patch-channel.yaml
    kind: Subscription
    name: ibm-eventstreams
# patch-channel.yaml
- op: replace
  path: /metadata/namespace
  value: cp4i
- op: replace
  path: /spec/channel
  value: v2.5
- op: replace
  path: /spec/startingCSV
  value: ibm-eventstreams.v2.5.1

The second major GitOps will be for the solution itself. We use KAM CLI to bootstrap its creation. KAM's goal is to help creating a GitOps project for an existing application as day 1 operations and then add more services as part of day 2 operation.

Examples of solution GitOps

The following solution GitOps repositories are illustrating the proposed approach:

  • refarch-kc-gitops: For the shipping fresh food overseas solution we have defined. It includes the SAGA choreography pattern implemented with Kafka
  • eda-kc-gitops: For the shipping fresh food overseas solution we have defined. It includes the SAGA orchestration pattern implemented with MQ
  • eda-rt-inventory-gitops to deploy the demo of real-time inventory

As a lab example, you may want to clone the real-time inventory demo and bootstrap the GitOps apps to deploy services and apps:

git clone

See the main readme for up to date instructions. All the images are in the public image registry: