Last week at the DevOps Connect event held in conjunction with RSA Conference, the security and continuous delivery worlds united to deliver an overarching message that security teams that can embed themselves in DevOps patterns can not only secure IT at speed, but they can actually contribute to a more reliable, repeatable and higher quality release cycle.
“DevOps extended the value of Agile so that we went from just continuous integration to continuous integration and continuous deployment,” says Josh Corman, CTO of Sonatype. “If the three measures of any software manufacturing lifecycle is speed, efficiency and quality/risk, then I think this Rugged DevOps era ideally allows you to go even faster, be even more efficient because of fewer break fixes and faster mean time to repair and better quality and lower risk.”
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Corman and Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project, developed on this idea in their talk, which pushed the thought that the ultimate Zen state of software delivery to strive for is a software supply chain.
“The way we can get more safety and security into digital infrastructure, is to move to the ultimate evolved posture of software development as a supply chain,” Corman explains. “This makes you even faster than DevOps–even more efficient and with higher quality and risk mitigation without tradeoffs.”
The idea of the software supply chain further builds on the lean manufacturing principles of W. Edwards Deming, who many in the Agile and DevOps worlds see as the spiritual grandfather of these movements.
“If you take Deming to his logical consequence, we’re going to start paying attention to the quality of our suppliers, the quality of our supply and the traceability and visibility of which parts went were, such that when there’s another Heartbleed, we can do a prompt and Agile response,” he says, explaining that that avoiding known bad parts, such as a bad version of struts in car manufacturing or a faulty SSL component like the one that caused Heartbleed, “will make you keep top speed, halve your blowouts, faster meantime repair, better traceability and make the auditors go away with less pain”
Security teams have traditionally been known as roadblocks rather than speed enhancers to development processes. But looking at it from the perspective of creating an effective software security supply chain, security actually plays a role in further speeding up production if it is helping organizations depend on higher quality components of production code and the code running infrastructure.
“If we get better at our component selection and our traceability of what we’re using where, we can reduce the number of break-fixes or reduce the number of unplanned unscheduled work,” Corman explains
He emphasizes that security debt tracks roughly with technical debt and CISOs should be having conversations with DevOps teams to that end. In the end security work pays down principle on technical debt, making it possible to spend more time writing code and less time on rework
“I’d love to give us a more defensible opportunity which embraces what devops already cares about and doesn’t articulate how we can make them safer, instead articulate how we can make it faster and more efficient,” he says.
As security pros start to do so, they might be surprised at their reception by the developers and operations folks. As Kim explained in their talk, in the end everyone does want the kind of quality that a cooperative security team can bring to the DevOps equation.
“When security imposes itself on day-to-day DevOps processes, dev and ops say ‘thank you,'” he says.