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How DevOps evolved into DevSecOps: Embracing security in software development

February 09, 2024 By Aaron Linskens

4 minute read time

The journey from DevOps to DevSecOps signifies a shift towards valuing security more prominently in how you create and maintain code, highlighting its increased importance within your software development and operations.

These methodologies go beyond practices, directly engaging with the software supply chain focused on the management and security of software development components and processes.

Understanding DevOps and DevSecOps is crucial for teams looking to optimize their workflows, enhance product quality, and ensure security is not an afterthought but a fundamental aspect of their software development life cycle (SDLC).

The genesis of DevOps and the rise of DevSecOps

Initially conceived to bridge the gap between development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops), DevOps revolutionized software delivery. It enhanced speed and quality through a culture of collaboration and a suite of automation, continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD) tools.

Yet, as deployment timelines accelerated and software reliability improved, it became clear that security needed to be more than a final checkpoint — it needed to "shift left" to be an intrinsic part of the development process from the start. Rather than an inspection at the end of a development process, security should be shifted left so that is in-process.

DevSecOps emerged as a natural progression, embedding security into the SDLC from the outset.

This proactive approach advocates for the early integration of security practices and tools. The objective is clear: Identify and address vulnerabilities sooner, making development more secure and efficient.

Evolving from DevOps to DevSecOps: A strategic shift for better software

The evolution from DevOps to DevSecOps prioritizes the integration of security into every facet of software development and operations, propelling organizations towards achieving not just faster, but safer and more sustainable innovation.

By embedding security within a DevOps framework, DevSecOps fundamentally enhances the way software is developed, monitored, and maintained, directly addressing the challenges of technical debt and ensuring the delivery of higher quality products.

DevSecOps doesn't just add security into the mix — it redefines the framework established by DevOps, enhancing it with a security-first mindset:

  • Processes enhanced for quality and security: DevSecOps elevates the DevOps emphasis on continuous integration and delivery by integrating continuous security monitoring and remediation. This approach ensures that high-quality code becomes a central focus, parallel to development and operations efforts, thereby reducing technical debt and fostering faster innovation.
  • Collaboration across disciplines for holistic security: While DevOps nurtures collaboration between development and operations, DevSecOps broadens this cooperative framework to include security experts from the start. By blending skills across development, operations, and security, organizations can achieve a unified, secure software development strategy that minimizes vulnerabilities and tech debt.
  • Proactive approach to vulnerabilities for built-in quality: Moving beyond the reactive security measures typical in DevOps, DevSecOps champions a proactive approach to software quality. By identifying and addressing potential issues from the onset of the development process, it ensures quality is built into the software, enhancing product integrity and security.
  • Advanced tool integration for comprehensive security: The transition to DevSecOps consists of the adoption of specialized security tools alongside traditional DevOps automation and orchestration tools, such as Jenkins, Docker, and Kubernetes. Methodologies like Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Software Composition Analysis (SCA), Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST), and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) become integral, offering deep insights into software dependencies, open source components, and application performance. These tools scan for vulnerabilities, analyze for security risks, and ensure the software's resilience against threats.

Beyond efficiency: Embracing security in software development

In the shifting development landscape, DevOps and DevSecOps represent two methodologies tailored to meet the industry's changing demands.

DevOps has been pivotal for organizations prioritizing rapid development and deployment, focusing on enhancing efficiency and speed.

However, in an environment increasingly threatened by security breaches and supply chain attacks, DevSecOps emerges as a holistic framework that integrates security that, when done well, accelerates development.

This approach is not merely a refinement of DevOps but the next step-change iteration  that addresses the intricate challenges of modern software creation. It empowers organizations to optimize, accelerate and grow.

Tags: devsecops, DevOps transformation, DevSecOps journey, Post security/devsecops

Written by Aaron Linskens

Aaron is a technical writer on Sonatype's Marketing team. He works at a crossroads of technical writing, developer advocacy, software development, and open source. He aims to get developers and non-technical collaborators to work well together via experimentation, feedback, and iteration so they can build the right software.