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Overcome technical skills gaps and scale automation

Making DevSecOps an automated reality

Michelle Sebek
© Shutterstock / LuckyStep

It’s no secret that DevSecOps with its speedy delivery and reduction in risk can accelerate the pace of digital transformation. In this article, Michelle Sebek, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Progress discusses the role of DevSecOps in digital transformation and policy-based DevSecOps automation architecture.

In this age of digital agility, under increasing pressure to take software from concept to delivery in record time frames, development teams have two choices – do they want to be slowed down by security and regulatory requirements? Or use security and compliance to their advantage against the competition? It’s no secret that DevSecOps with its speedy delivery and reduction in risk can accelerate the pace of digital transformation.

DevSecOps matters in reducing critical costs and development time by minimising the need to repeat a process to address security issues after production. It’s a no-brainer that security and compliance can speed up production time and in using some key practices tech teams can overcome technical skills gaps and scale automation across teams and environments.

The role of DevSecOps in digital transformation

In practice, DevSecOps is meant to be a collaboration between development, security, and operations; it aims to automate the integration of security into every phase of the software development lifecycle. According to the 2021 State of DevOps Report, an annual report that includes insight from more than 2,500 expert participants around the globe, “teams who integrate security practices throughout their development process are 1.6 times more likely to meet or exceed their organisational goals.”

Top performers worldwide are using security and compliance to speed up their business. There are many enterprise benefits for implementing DevSecOps such as creating trust and reducing risk with cost-effective, quick software delivery, and improved proactive security. DevSecOps reduces costs and saves time by minimising the need to repeat a process to address security issues retrospectively. Conversely, organisations who aren’t utilising it are experiencing slowdowns and re-works.

Why DevSecOps matters

Enabling DevSecOps collaboration helps unify teams throughout the journey to spare them the frustration of building code, configuring changes, and starting deployment, only to be stopped because of compliance or security requirements that weren’t communicated, then re-writing code to fix the issues. Moving from a siloed organisation and enabling collaboration reduces re-works and gets the finished, compliant product to market sooner. The goal is to break down the silos, take the key learnings from DevOps and DevSecOps, and start the conversion about compliance and security needs in parallel and in a single pipeline for building the next release, not at the end of the process.

What is Policy as Code?

Policy as Code brings configuration management and compliance into a single step, eliminating the security silo and moving everyone into a shared pipeline and a shared framework. Making DevSecOps an automated reality brings together all the critical steps, giving the ability to overcome technical skills gaps and scale automation across your teams and environments.

Policy as Code extends Infrastructure as Code by enabling four essential actions:

  • Collaboration: Code is a common language for developers, operations, and security teams
  • Scalability: Code scales across complexity sprawl
  • Shift left: Test throughout the delivery process, bringing security in as early as possible, and allowing developers to test policies directly on their workstations
  • Continuous visibility: ability to monitor the steps to reduce or eliminate risk and fire drills

The importance of using Policy as Code

Turning DevSecOps concepts into reality relies on the need to introduce security at its earliest feasible opportunity in the development process. Every organisation has policies that govern how they do business, defining security standards, regulatory requirements, and other organisational mandates. Typically, these policies are defined in text – in PDF documents, Word, Excel and wikis – that can’t be acted upon. Those policies need to be interpreted by humans before it can be implemented or enforced.

By using tools you can define and document those policies as unambiguous, human-readable code. For compliance and security, this requires access to a library of premium content that’s CIS or DISA STIG certified to get started. These pre-made hardening profiles enable organisations to deploy configurations and applications to known standards right out of the box.

Another benefit of defining policy as code is that teams can perform tests early and often. This development approach checks infrastructure and applications are policy-compliant before you enter production stages.

Policy-based DevSecOps automation architecture

Developers and ops teams have realised that building security and compliance early in the process is a key responsibility. In changing the way they approach end-to-end deployments to create and test code based on the organisation’s rules and policies at the start of the process they reap many rewards in terms of time, security and innovation. Thinking about security considerations early makes it easier to iterate and make changes. In the final stages prior to deployment it’s harder for Sec teams to intervene and costs significantly more in time-consuming rework.

It’s best to look for a tool which has fully integrated infrastructure and compliance policies to streamline the workflow for operators and ensure alignment all the way from the development phase. There are several business benefits of this – firstly, codified, documented policies help organisations better document their policies in an unambiguous, shareable, and actionable way. Also, in taking advantage of community-built content, organisations tend to achieve faster time-to-value. From a security standpoint, test-driven development means faster, more secure delivery.

Overcome technical skills gaps and scale automation

Organisations that aren’t utilising these practices are experiencing slowdowns and re-works, and those that already are understand the clear business case for making DevSecOps an automated reality. Over time it’s inevitable that the two camps will converge, and that by making DevSecOps an automated reality, organisations will universally overcome technical skills gaps and scale automation across their teams and environments.

Author

Michelle Sebek

Michelle Sebek is a technology advocate focused on DevOps, Automation, and Policy as Code for the Chef business unit at Progress. Michelle delivers real-world solutions for today’s emerging high-growth software.

Before this role, Michelle was an enterprise software product marketer at GrapeCity, a developer solutions components company, and led similar positions at a Fortune 15 technology company. Over the last few decades, Michelle has led award-winning product launches, bringing expertise in strategy, research, content, and execution across numerous organisations focused on digital transformation and IoT, from ideation to performance. Michelle has been involved in multiple technology user groups and has over 20 years of experience in high technology.


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