As IT and software development continue to evolve, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to get with the times. This means removing silos, embracing Agile, and realizing that markets are far more competitive than they used to be. It also requires investment in cultures of continuous improvement rather than temporary changes for individual projects.

‘DevOps’ is an approach to managing software pipelines that has become a major presence in businesses around the world. It emphasizes collaboration, automation, and consistent tracking to optimize software-powered products and services without compromising on speed. 

‘DevSecOps’ is an extension of this. Developed years after DevOps, the new version prioritizes security to the same extent as development (Dev) and operations (Ops). It reflects the growing importance of security in business, not just as a safety net but as a value generator in its own right.

There are certainly more similarities between the two than there are differences. However, they are not identical, and certain businesses and engineers will still be able to benefit from choosing one over the other.

So, what are the differences between DevOps and DevSecOps? How can candidates choose between them?  In this article, we’ll take a look at how businesses can decide whether to invest in DevOps or DevSecOps.

Choosing DevOps

DevOps was originally created to revolutionize traditional software development pipelines. Previously, teams would be siloed. Developers would rush to release code without thinking about its implementation before simply handing it over to operations staff to deal with. There was little communication between teams, and as developers continued to produce code faster and faster, operations staff would struggle to keep up. This would inevitably create bottlenecks, with businesses having to trade speed for quality and reliability.

Rather than a methodology or framework in its own right, DevOps is more of a generic approach with several ‘pillars’ that can be utilized as an organization deems appropriate. It is intended to create cultural shifts within a business that shift entire pipelines towards new ways of doing things. This requires a strong example from those in leadership positions, whether they are senior DevOps engineers, stakeholders, or anyone else.

One of the main tenets of DevOps is collaboration. Silos are broken down, with all members of staff within a pipeline becoming jointly responsible for meeting targets. Software developers will apply their skills to upgrading operational processes, while operations specialists will upskill developers in how to consider implementation during the early stages of development. This can vastly increase both speed and morale as all ‘DevOps engineers’ work together to make everything as efficient and reliable as possible.

Another pillar of DevOps is automation. This is applied to manual tasks wherever possible, not only to increase speed but also to achieve a higher level of reliability. Much of this is driven by the use of open-source software, and new tools are being developed constantly for different parts of typical IT pipelines. 

DevOps engineers will also implement continued automated testing to check the viability of code and ensure potential issues are caught early on. Meanwhile, automated metrics tracking will highlight potential areas for improvement while also providing the data necessary to keep stakeholders informed.

Overall, DevOps helps practitioners continually optimize the frequency, quality, and predictability of code deployments. All of this is vital in modern markets, where many companies are forced to make several releases per day. At the same time, DevOps also teaches the inevitability and value of failure, encouraging DevOps teams to experiment in different areas, even if the only end results are new learning experiences.

However, it is important to remember that, as we said earlier, DevOps is not a prescriptive framework that can be applied to a single project. Rather, it is an approach to drive major cultural changes and long-term improvements. Similarly, ‘DevOps engineer’ is not a career path in and of itself. Instead, it is an umbrella term provided to anyone within a DevOps pipeline regardless of their particular skills or experience. And even following DevOps certification, candidates still need sufficient experience to unlock senior positions.

It takes commitment on behalf of businesses and candidates to gain as much value as possible from using DevOps. However, with the right level of investment, DevOps training can create continuous benefits.

Choosing DevSecOps

An issue that developed with DevOps over time is that its original points of focus, while essential, now have a great deal of competition in terms of what software-powered organizations need to prioritize. These days, there is a much bigger focus on security, both for the sake of protecting customers and adding value to business offerings. 

The problem is that traditional DevOps would treat security largely as an afterthought, applying tests and changes just prior to the point of release. Issues would not be picked up early in the pipeline, giving them a chance to evolve into dangerous vulnerabilities that would either place clients in danger or create bottlenecks as engineers rushed to make repairs. With security and compliance targets now playing such a critical role in software development, this approach is no longer feasible.

‘DevSecOps’ is one of several approaches that appeared to deal with this. It applies the ‘shift left’ approach to security, as well as development and operations, integrating it into the start of software pipelines and having ‘DevSecOps engineers’ contribute to planning, development, and all subsequent stages.

DevSecOps engineers will consult with (and upskill) development and operations teams in how to consider security and watch out for flaws. They will also apply the pillars of automation and continuous testing to not only enhance the creation of security early on. This approach can also create time for making further improvements to pipeline processes or even add additional security features to services.

Rather than being entirely separate, DevSecOps can best be described as a version of DevOps that simply prioritizes code just as much as the speed of development and effectiveness of operations. 

That being said, it also has the same drawbacks as DevOps, in that businesses must be prepared to pursue major cultural shifts if they want to truly benefit. Practitioners should also treat DevSecOps itself as a lesson that the priorities of software development, as well as security, will continue to evolve.

Should I choose DevOps or DevSecOps?

Together, DevOps and DevSecOps represent three factors that cannot be ignored if you want your business to compete: quality, speed, and security. The importance of the lattermost factor cannot be ignored, and it could be argued that DevOps, in general, is moving towards a DevSecOps mindset as a result.

It is easier to make the decision from an individual perspective. Are you a security specialist? Is security relevant to your role? If not, DevOps may be the more obvious choice. It is certainly more well known than DevSecOps, and the pillars of the approach are relevant to all DevOps cultures regardless of their emphasis on security, database management, and so on. 

Combining DevOps and DevSecOps

If you ask a practicing engineer, they will tell you that, essentially, DevOps and DevSecOps are the same thing. DevSecOps simply reflects the shifting priorities and capabilities of software development and the adaptation of the DevOps pillars to reflect this. DevSecOps itself also teaches security management within the context of DevOps, rather than training security specialists from nothing.

It is perfectly acceptable for DevOps and DevSecOps to both be applied within a culture. Unless DevOps engineers are resistant to security being shifted left, there shouldn’t be any resistance. Even if you already have a DevOps culture in place, investing in DevSecOps training for relevant engineers should not cause any disruption.

What you must remember, however, is that both DevOps and DevSecOps must be actively applied. A business must work hard to establish and maintain the culture, with managers and senior engineers taking the lead. The communities surrounding the two approaches are also extremely active, and achieving ‘continuous improvement’ will require looking out for and adopting new developments in the future.

As an individual, training in both DevOps and DevSecOps from the start isn’t generally necessary. You can learn the pillars of the basic approach by studying either, and if you find work with a practitioner organization, you will usually find they have their own unique way of doing things regardless.

As we mentioned earlier, the primary deciding factor should be how security currently fits in with your skills and expertise. DevOps engineers are hired based on their individual qualifications rather than just their knowledge of the approach. If security-based tools and insights are not relevant to the kind of role you are seeking, studying DevOps classic may be the answer.

Studying DevOps and DevSecOps with Good e-Learning

Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider, as well as a Trusted Education Partner for the DevOps Institute. We work with highly experienced subject matter experts to deliver courses that not only equip candidates to pass their exams but also provide them with practical knowledge to carry into their careers.

Each of our courses comes with a variety of online training assets, including knowledge checks, instructor-led videos, and practice exams. We provide six to 24 months of study for every course, and students can access them via any web-enabled device thanks to the Go.Learn app.

Good e-Learning regularly produces webinars, blogs, and downloadable materials to take students beyond the syllabus of their course, and our support team is also fully qualified to answer questions on individual topics. When a student is ready to sit a certification exam, they can also contact us for a FREE exam voucher, along with free resits via Exam Pledge.

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Philip is a content writer with experience across multiple industries, including gaming, home improvement, and now e-learning. He graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in History before taking on various odd jobs and volunteer writing positions, but soon broke into professional writing as a retail journalist. Now focusing on content writing, Philip is a tireless enemy of cliched corporate jargon. He believes that marketing content should be clear, concise and relevant to readers. Rather than assuming that customers know all about your solution, it is up to you to identify with their problem and offer something that will really get their attention. As such, he strives to understand the real-world applications of Good e-Learning’s product portfolio so that it can be explained in a way that is both coherent and down to earth. If you cannot understand what you are selling, you won’t get far! In his spare time, Philip enjoys watching movies, gaming and writing with friends.