REI Insights

Start Small To Dream Big with DevSecOps: Get Faster, Cheaper, and Secure Software Developed Across Your Agency
June 7, 2023

Government agencies are under increasing pressure to provide better software solutions and services with limited budgets while facing security risks from adversaries seeking to exploit vulnerable systems and applications. DevSecOps is a method to get secure software developed faster and cheaper. However, DevSecOps can be difficult to implement, especially for agencies with large and complex systems. The key to success? Start small to dream big. By planning to learn from a pilot executed by taking achievable steps, agencies can evolve towards their ultimate vision for agency-wide DevSecOps with low risk and greater confidence.

Across government, DevSecOps has emerged as a critical approach for getting faster, more secure, and more efficient software development processes while promoting collaboration and breaking down silos between development, security, and operations teams. But implementing it can be a tall order.

Deployment of DevSecOps requires a cultural shift, a commitment to ongoing collaboration, adoption automation, continuous testing, and continuous delivery practices and tools. However, by starting with small steps and building momentum, agencies can successfully implement DevSecOps and realize its benefits across the enterprise.

Getting Started:

The first step is to pinpoint the key stakeholders and get buy-in from the team. This includes developers, security professionals, and operations staff. Everyone on the team must understand what DevSecOps is and its purpose. Explain how it will benefit the agency with increased security, faster time to market, and better collaboration between teams.

If a team is used to traditional approaches like waterfall, DevSecOps could take some getting used to. DevSecOps is a cultural shift that means everyone owns the security, not just the security team.

And don’t forget the leadership: Engage these folks often and communicate progress and successes, even hurdles, to gain their support. When leadership jointly owns success, they will support you as you tackle more complex problems.

Once everyone is on board, next assess the current state of the development process and identify areas that need improvement. After that, the team can start implementing DevSecOps practices.

That could include leveraging DevSecOps accelerators for automating security testing and integrating security into the development process. Implementing automation tools is critical to achieving the speed and efficiency required for DevSecOps. To streamline the process, use Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) practices and tool chain for automated testing and security scans.

Rather than trying to implement DevSecOps across an entire agency, starting with a small pilot project is better. Doing so allows agencies to gain experience and build momentum, which can help them tackle more complex projects in the future.

Securing Your Process:

Security is a key component of DevSecOps, so ensuring it’s integrated into every process step is essential. This includes implementing secure coding practices, performing regular security testing, and conducting ongoing security assessments. Never think of security as a checkbox added to the end of the development process.

Setting goals allows agencies to test and refine their DevSecOps processes in a controlled, low-risk environment. This can help identify potential issues or challenges early and learn from them, allowing agencies to address them before they become significant problems.

Education and awareness building can be done internally, but another way is to bring in an industry partner experienced in implementing DevSecOps in government. A partner can ensure that the adoption process is smooth and that any bumps on this journey are addressed.

Partnering for Success:

REI is such a partner that has successfully deployed DevSecOps at numerous agencies. REI adopts a context-specific hybrid approach for applying DevSecOps Accelerators, CI/CD manual, and automation testing towards optimal automation with minimal risk. We assess the current maturity of the DevSecOps, Containerization, and CI/CD process to introduce tools and techniques that gradually increase maturity in achieving full automation. We advance automation through Infrastructure as Code (IaC) techniques to reduce deployment time and minimize manual verification and testing for faster release of new features and enhancements.

In addition to bringing in an experienced partner, also invest in training. DevSecOps requires new skills and knowledge, so ensure your team has the skills to effectively implement DevSecOps practices and the CI/CD tool chain.

Remember, building momentum and creating a sense of progress helps keep team members engaged and motivated. If you show success or progress at each stage of the process, it’s easier to gain buy-in and support from those involved and, ultimately, have a successful outcome and break down internal resistance to change.

Monitor progress regularly and measure success against your objectives and milestones. Use metrics such as deployment frequency, lead time, and mean time to recovery to track progress.

Leveraging Continuous Improvement:

Finally, continuously improve. DevSecOps is a continuous learning process and adapting to changing circumstances and requirements. Use feedback from stakeholders and performance metrics to home in on areas to improve and tweak your plan accordingly.

DevSecOps is a methodology that can help agencies improve service delivery while ensuring their systems and applications are secure. By deconstructing the process into manageable steps, agencies can successfully implement DevSecOps practices. So, start small, dream big, and use DevSecOps to achieve your agency-wide goals.

And remember, be patient and stay committed. DevSecOps is a journey, not a sprint.


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