Is DevSecOps making a Difference in Information Security?

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It seems nary a week passes without a story about a hacking incident making the evening news. Additionally, many CIOs report a skills gap when it comes to employing experienced information security professionals. As such, the demand for these IT pros is now going through the roof – as well are their salaries.

So what about DevSecOps, the cybersecurity focused variant of the DevOps methodology, slash, organizational structure? We’ve talked about it in the past and are wondering if it is truly making a difference in today’s technology world. Let’s take a closer look.

The Current State of DevSecOps in the Industry

Last month, SD Times looked at what inroads DevSecOps is making throughout the software development industry. They asked the same question as us: is it truly making a difference considering the never-ending scourge of cyber attacks and similar forms of nefarious behavior. Considering the difficulties some organizations encounter when implementing DevOps itself, it is simply too new to make much impact?

Derek Weeks, vice president and DevOps advocate at Sonatype, echoes that opinion. “I will say I think we’re early on in the DevSecOps movement of practices that are being implemented. I think with the organizations that have attempted to do it, they are seeing early successes and are happy with that. The vast majority of the market has not gotten their feet wet with DevSecOps practices yet,” said Weeks.

When looking at the recent tech news, however, it becomes time to quote Spock: “Mr. Scott, speed is of the essence.” The core of the issue involves successfully implementing security within a software engineering organization’s current DevOps initiatives. If those practices are still emerging, obviously adding the “Sec” to DevOps becomes more difficult.

A Cultural Change is Essential for a DevSecOps Implementation

A successful DevSecOps implementation requires both a cultural shift within a software development shop as well as buy-in from the executive team. Of course, these same things are necessary for switching to DevOps itself. Obviously, a mature DevOps organization will likely find it easier adding security to an existing framework.

Weeks feels security practices need to be actually embedded in the software development workflow, as opposed to tacked to the process after the fact. Making information security practitioners serve as a gatekeeper instead of collaborator isn’t the best approach. They need empathy for the entire SDLC. 

Training software engineers in the proper application of cybersecurity technology ultimately works better. This serves to foster the kind of teamwork and collaboration that is the hallmark of DevOps itself. It also provides companies the chance to close their information security skills gap in an internal fashion.

John Martinez, vice president of customer solutions at Evident.io, commented on the inroads DevSecOps is making at his firm: “I think the DevOps side of DevSecOps has definitely been much faster to respond and I think we’re starting to see, at least on our side, the cross-pollination on the security side where a lot of the agile practices are starting to fit over on the SecOps side.”

Ultimately, DevSecOps is a still emerging practice. However, the importance of companies successfully implementing it cannot be overstated.

That’s it for this edition of the Betica Blog. Stay tuned for additional insights from the wide world of software development. Thanks for reading!

Are Developers finally starting to Understand DevOps?

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Software developers remain a curious and opinionated bunch. Over the last few decades they tend to adapt slowly to new methodologies, with DevOps offering little exception to this golden rule. A recent survey reveals things are finally beginning to change, as it shows application engineers beginning to actually “get” DevOps.

Of course, we recently wrote about network administrators feeling DevOps is all about the “Dev” in the first place. What follows is an analysis of the survey to see what these changing opinions mean for the process of software engineering. Perhaps you might gain an insight or two to help your own team’s project work?

Survey says DevOps makes Software Development Faster

Most organizations implementing DevOps do so in the hopes of making their software development process faster and more efficient. A survey of software engineers, CTOs, and IT pros by application maker, GitLab, notes that these wishes appear to be coming true. News about the survey appeared last month on the Developer Tech website.

According to the GitLab study, two-thirds of those polled feel DevOps greatly improves the speed of the software development process. This 65 percent moves upwards to 81 percent when only taking into account the opinion of managers. 29 percent of those surveyed plan new DevOps investments in the current year.

The best shops using the methodology are able to spend at least half of their workday actually writing code. Changes get deployed on demand. In short, these top organizations are twice as productive as those whose DevOps implementation is either immature or nonexistent.

Challenges to Efficient Application Engineering Remain

In their survey, GitLab highlighted a few challenges to the software development process. Two-thirds of the respondents noted the lack of clear direction on application engineering projects. Slightly over half mentioned the need for rework and unexpected scope creep, while 31 percent felt unrealistic expectations hampered their efforts.

Leveraging automated processes to improve efficiency is a high priority at 60 percent of the surveyed organizations. Around 90 percent of those companies are currently using Agile, DevOps, or a mixture of both. 16 percent are still using the venerable Waterfall methodology for some or all of their development work.

Continuous testing also plays an important role in the ultimate success of any company’s DevOps adoption, a concept highlighted by Razi Siddiqui, SVP and CIO at GCi Technologies. “It’s a key indicator that your DevOps/agile practice is mature, and your QA strategy must take into account that 100% test automation is not practical – nor is it possible,” said Siddiqui.

Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab, commented on their survey conclusions. “The survey reveals software professionals finally see the need for DevOps in their workflow and are beginning to adapt their workstyle in order to make this a reality. Despite the progress in the shift in mindset, current DevOps practices are not cutting it. Instead of a single application that accomplishes the goals of both Dev and Ops, many glue together the tools for the two departments, which has proven to be an ineffective means for collaboration,” said Sijbrandij.

It definitely appears that any enterprise software development not using DevOps runs the risk of being left behind in today’s business landscape. Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep returning for additional insights on the wide world of software development.

React.js gets a Fresh Update

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With Facebook’s founder testifying to the U.S. Congress, in unrelated news, the company’s React.js UI library for JavaScript recently received a new update. Version 16.3 of React provides a host of new features for developers hoping to add some efficiency to their web applications. If you are interested in downloading it, the update is available on Facebook’s own GitHub repository.

If your team isn’t using React, check out our previous articles covering it and its mobile variant, React Native. What follows is a high level overview of React version 16.3. News about the new update appeared in InfoWorld, among other sources.

A Look at the New Features of React.js 16.3

The main changes in the updated version of React involve improved management of the component lifecycle, as well as a new API to help developers better deal with context in their application. These new component lifecycles include: getDerivedStateFromProps and componentWillReceiveProps, which gives programmers a safer option than using the legacy versions. Another one, getSnapshotBeforeUpdate, safely handles the reading of properties before performing an update.

Some lifecycles are receiving an “unsafe” prefix to warn developers not to use them. Runtime safety isn’t the issue as much as the likelihood of deprecated functionality and subsequent incompatibility with future versions of React. In short, they are warning you about potential future bugs. Another reason for this is providing a “heads up” to engineers maintaining open source applications using React.

Facebook engineer, Brian Vaughan commented on what led to this new lifecycle functionality. “A few days ago, we wrote a post about upcoming changes to our legacy lifecycle methods, including gradual migration strategies. In React 16.3.0, we are adding a few new lifecycle methods to assist with that migration,” said Vaughan.

Another option involves using the new StrictMode component. This serves to identify any unsafe legacy lifecycles when running in development mode. It also warns about other side effects from using older lifecycles and React functionality. Expect additional features to be added to this component in future updates.

The New React Context API adds Efficiency

In addition to providing a boost in efficiency, React’s new Context API allows for static type checking and deep updates. Data is able to be passed through a component tree without the manual inclusion of props. The old API is expected to still work for a few more versions, so start updating your code to use to new one.

Facebook cautions about overusing the new API. “Don’t use context just to avoid passing props a few levels down. Stick to cases where the same data needs to be accessed in many components at multiple levels,” said the social network’s development team.

Other fresh features in React 16.3 include a new API for managing refs, called createrefAPI. This lets programmers access DOM nodes or React elements derived from the render process. The forwardRef API facilitates code reuse by help devs use higher-order components for this purpose.

Since React is effectively becoming a standard for UI development in web applications, we hope this look at its latest version provides some insights for you and your team. As always, thanks for reading the Betica Blog. We hope to see you again very soon!