knob pointing between "traditional" and "agile"

Comparing DevSecOps vs. agile is a bit like trying to compare apples to oranges. Both are methodologies in software development, but they’re actually designed to work together. Agile is about flexibility in the development process. DevSecOps is about using security as a fundamental part of these transformations. Essentially, Agile sets the framework for the entire development cycle and DevSecOps layers in security needs. It’s not an either/or scenario. They’re supposed to be combined.

DevSecOps and agile have a lot of components in common. Specifically, in both, there is a hefty focus on collaboration between departments to eliminate information silos. They also are designed to work in a continuous improvement kind of way, where testing and refinement are regular parts of the process. DevSecOps vs. agile pits the two against one another, when it’s really about understanding how they work together. 

What is Agile?

Agile development is more of a mindset than a process. It’s a way of staying flexible when creating new software so developers can pivot as needed. Agile is a significant change from the old “waterfall” method of development. When using waterfall, developers must follow a series of steps. Each one requires completion to move to the next stage. While that structure made it relatively easy to keep track of project status, it wasn’t suitable for speed, flexibility, or when following continuous improvement strategies. 

Agile development, rather than being a series of steps, is a cycle. The strategy allows for greater flexibility where the focus is on creating working software faster, while less critical steps like documentation take a backseat. Overall, agile projects can be a more advantageous approach than their traditional counterparts. While there are many names for each of the stages in the agile cycle, they encompass a general process of six steps:

6 steps of the agile cycle

  • Conception: The idea is fleshed out.  
  • Strategy: Leaders iron out technical project details like budget, resources, and needed personnel.  
  • Construction: This is the design and development stage.  
  • Testing: Tests of the technical function of the product occur, and resolutions are discovered. 
  • Deployment: The software is released 
  • Assessment: Feedback from the initial testers guides improvements. 

Software races through these stages multiple times before releasing to general audiences. By allowing for testing at various points, the developers ensure they’re gaining the best possible product in the shortest period. As a result, it’s one of the more popular software development methodologies. 

What is DevSecOps? 

DevSecOps is the next stage of DevOps. Like agile development, the goal of DevOps is to shorten the time it takes to deploy a program while ensuring the highest quality. However, DevOps takes this even further by combining software with IT operations and other key departments within an organization. 

DevSecOps builds on this by integrating security into the development cycle at every single stage. It creates accountability for the safety of the program and methods of automating processes that protect operations. It’s a broad term that incorporates many different components, but for the most part, most DevSecOps strategies will include:

Built-in Compliance

Transparency

Automation

Collaboration

Compliance rules must be integrated into an underlying system when it comes to specific industries. For instance, a program that manages personal health information should have built-in support for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Observability in the application delivery process allows individuals to catch bad actors before their actions result in a breach or damage to the platform. Feedback loops provide a constant source of information and let experts take remedial action as needed.  One of the major risks to security is people. Human error is a causal event in a percentage of data breaches. Intuitive security automation is a way to eliminate the risk of human error while ensuring security is constant, and that its integrity remains intact. Teamwork is a cornerstone of any DevOps program. DevSecOps takes this a step further by making security engineers part of the overall conversation. This ensures security is a central component of the development and not an afterthought tacked on later.

While every DevSecOps program is different, any good one will include the above elements to ensure the best possible product. In most cases, DevSecOps works in conjunction with an agile strategy to maximize project efficiency. 

Comparing DevSecOps vs. Agile 

Viewing DevSecOps vs. Agile as a black and white dichotomy is a mistake. There’s no need to compare the two because each contains components of the other. An agile environment can easily incorporate DevSecOps. It’s best to combine the two to plug holes that agile development can sometimes create, because DevSecOps can fill gaps. 

With security as a foundation through a DevSecOps perspective, the whole agile approach is made safer and more efficient. There are hundreds of ways to automate these security procedures and ensure reliable user experiences and data protection throughout all pipelines. New Context can work with your company to apply a DevSecOps approach with agile development, among other proven methods, to build a better overall product.

New Context helps you take a more holistic approach to security in development. Check out our DevSecOps Scorecard to see how you compare. Then, contact us or call 1.888.773.8360 for more information on how we can help you improve.

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