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Software development has evolved from rigid waterfall methodologies to more flexible and streamlined approaches like Agile, and more recently, DevOps. This evolution has taken place, in large part, to shorten development life cycles and meet increased business demands. Today, businesses of all sizes have built an advantage by implementing a DevOps culture and processes, which break down silos between development and operations, allowing organizations to build applications faster.
As organizations implement DevOps on Amazon Web Services® (AWS), they need to understand the security implications. The AWS Shared Responsibility Model makes clear that AWS secures what’s “on the cloud,” while the customer is responsible for securing their assets “in the cloud.” When AWS customers go about securing their DevOps environments, they need to do so in a way that provides robust protection without limiting developer agility.
Traditional software development vs. DevOps
Evolving from Waterfall to Agile
Software development practices have evolved over the years to more streamlined processes for creating higher quality applications at greater speed. Many organizations have moved away from traditional waterfall models, where each phase of development is dependent on the other. In Waterfall models, testing came towards the end of development. This meant that issues often weren’t found until the later stages of a project. Teams would have to backtrack to fix issues and push back release dates. Historically, the steps taken to minimize these unanticipated modifications involved long planning cycles that stifled agility and incurred excessive costs.
In the early 2000s, companies began moving away from this inefficient development model and embraced new Agile methodologies. Based on the Agile Manifesto, these development practices encouraged testing throughout a project (rather than at the end) and greater collaboration amongst different teams. This resulted in smaller, yet faster development cycles.
The rise of DevOps
In more recent years, Agile development has evolved into DevOps. The primary reason for this shift was that Agile development uncovered a new roadblock that stymied agility; the separation of development and operations teams. DevOps removes this roadblock by bringing together stakeholders from both units to collaborate throughout the development cycle. DevOps cultures leverage a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, which enables greater automation throughout a project. When combined with greater collaboration, this automation has resulted in accelerated builds and deployments. By enabling rapid iteration and the delivery of smaller packets of code, DevOps makes it easier to obtain and apply end-user feedback to create higher quality software.
Why AWS for DevOps?
AWS has made it easier for organizations to implement modern development practices like DevOps because it provides a broad and deep set of native cloud services. Access to these services removes the barriers—time, cost, and risk—that have traditionally made it hard to implement new technologies on-premises. Furthermore, AWS constantly updates its service offerings, making it easier for organizations to keep up with and take advantage of the latest technological advancements.
AWS Developer Tools is a subset of the AWS service library, which help you host code and automate the build, testing, and deployment of your applications. To build a CI/CD workflow, developers can take advantage of the following services:
- Software release workflows (AWS Code Pipeline)
- Build and test code (AWS CodeBuild)
- Deployment automation (AWS CodeDeploy)
- Unified CI/CD projects (AWS CodeStar)
Leveraging containers in your CI/CD pipeline:The core of DevOps collaboration
Development practices continue to evolve, folding in the latest technology advancements to move faster, deliver new customer value, and build a stronger competitive edge. Recently, this has led to the inclusion of containers—a standard unit of software that packages up code and all its dependencies.
The advantage of using containers is that they consolidate an application’s code, configurations, and dependencies into a single object, making them modular and easy to spin up/spin down. They also run off of an operating system (OS) kernel, as opposed to their own OS. These factors make them more resource efficient than traditional VMs, while also enabling greater development speed.
The evolution from waterfall to agile to DevOps development practices has been a game changer for businesses, enabling them to create better applications at greater speed and a lower cost. Now that software is at the core of most businesses, it’s critical for organizations to infuse the highest level of agility and nimbleness into their development practices. Delivering value to the market more quickly than the competition can be a key driver of business success. By adopting modern DevOps practices, including the use of containers, businesses can reduce the time to market for applications and updates, accelerate the customer feedback loops, and reduce the risk of introducing new capabilities.
The challenge in securing DevOps environments
Even though DevOps comes with many advantages, that does not mean it comes without challenges. Many organizations are still challenged by securing their new DevOps environments. In particular, businesses face two common challenges.
- Growing pains when changing culture DevOps
requires development teams to think of security from the beginning of a project and throughout its life cycle—a stark contrast from previous operations. Many see this level of security as a bottleneck and work around it to stimulate speed.
- Manual security measures slow development
Many common DevOps tools lack the necessary security capabilities, including automated monitoring and analysis. Without this, it is hard to deliver robust security without slowing development or incurring human error. Security automation is especially important when using containers, as their agile and modular nature make them hard to keep up with manually.