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Building a DevSecOps Culture - from a Technical Perspective

GSA IT continues to cultivate its own DevSecOps strategy. Originally we began with DevOps - which differs from other well-known lean approaches, like Agile, in that it focuses on improving delivery outcomes versus the process of delivery. Granted, even if the engaged software development team is not practicing an Agile approach, DevOps can still be successfully implemented in any environment. Further, it promotes a more cohesive collaboration between Development and Operations teams as they work towards continuous integration and delivery.

DevOps Integration: Plan, Code, Build, Test, Deploy, Operate, Monitor tasks surrounded by various related vendors' logos

Source: Edureka!


Utilizing DevOps

DevOps is a composition of enhanced “engineering” practices that reduce lead time and increase the frequency of delivery. The primary goal of DevOps is to ensure Operations team members are engaged and collaborating with Development from the very beginning of a project / product development. As Edureka! states, “Gartner believes that rather than being a market per se, DevOps is a philosophy, a cultural shift that merges operations with development and demands a linked toolchain of technologies to facilitate collaborative change.” It requires pushing past departmental lines for more effective planning, design, and release of projects / products.

DevOps Utilization: Code, build file, jenkins build, develop, test, production

Source: McKinsey & Company

Moreover, as we continue to build upon automated delivery, we find there are opportunities to test for issues beyond typical bugs - potential security flaws, design defects, and code weaknesses. Imagine being able to identify and and fix flaws earlier in delivery process, before they are exposed to the public.

DevOps + Security = DevSecOps

To this end, there’s a growing movement, called DevSecOps, to incorporate Security into the coding process. Its primary focus is to ensure loopholes and weaknesses are exposed early on through monitoring and analytics, so that remediation actions can be implemented efficiently.


Source: Hypergrid

Checkmarx quotes DevOps advocate Shannon Lietz, “The purpose and intent of DevSecOps, is to build on the mindset that ‘everyone is responsible for security’ with the goal of safely distributing security decisions at speed and scale to those who hold the highest level of context without sacrificing the safety required.”

In GSA IT, we are actively pursuing a DevSecOps model that will not only engage Security throughout the development and operations processes, but more specifically, ensure their involvement as we align the Authority to Operate (ATO) / Lightweight Authority to Operate (LATO) process with the cloud delivery process.


Automation is an imperative in any DevSecOps environment, at least where it makes sense. A strong DevSecOps environment should employ tools that automate the following:

GSA IT-Approved Tools

GSA IT currently uses the following approved tools to support DevSecOps delivery:

Build (Plan) Build (Code) Test (CI) Deploy (CD) Operations (Security & Monitoring)
JIRA, Slack, Trello Ansible, GitHub, Jenkins Jenkins, Selenium, CircleCI Ansible, Jenkins, Terraform, CloudFormation AMI, ClamAV, CloudWatch, Nessus, OSSEC

Measuring DevSecOps Success

When utilizing DevSecOps practices, success is often measured by the efficiency of continuous development, threat detection, and release cycles. Metrics include:

Delivery efficiency is gained through Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery activities that encourage and support frequent code check-in, version control, sensible test automation, continuous low-risk releases and feedback. Security issue detection gains are achieved through “threat modeling, code reviews, and red teaming.” Over time, Jez Humble says these metrics lead to “the top five predictors of IT performance:”

Benefits of a DevSecOps Environment

DevSecOps provides a number of benefits between Development, Security, and Operations - it eliminates silos, promotes collaboration and teamwork, identifies vulnerabilities early, and provides better, faster delivery. However, be wary of creating a departmental silo from Business team members. The Business can provide valuable support by engaging DevSecOps team members upfront and ensuring Development team members’ time is accounted for and visible.

DevSecOps also contributes business value through dollars and resources saved, improved operations, diminished security threats, reduction of re-work and increased quality through automated testing, as well as the delivery of projects / products early and often with less cycle time to the customer. As Edureka! further notes, the benefits of a DevOps (or DevSecOps) environment include:

Technical Benefits:

Business Benefits:

Good Reads

These are good references for understanding DevSecOps culture and tools: / Office of the CTO

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