Hurdles and success criteria of DevSecOps adoption

DevSecOps integrates security practices, principles, tooling, and knowledge into all stages of the software development life cycle within an Agile framework. It aims to enforce security in every stage of the DevOps process compared to the traditional practice, where security assurance is typically performed late in the software delivery life cycle.

With this shifting left approach, you can minimize security attacks and breaches and tremendously improve an application’s overall security posture by detecting vulnerabilities early. In fact, based on a Forrester Research report, a transition from DevOps to DevSecOps is one of the top five priorities for IT security and risk leaders in 2019 and beyond.

The hurdles

However, while DevSecOps sounds great in theory, it is difficult to implement and often meets with resistance in practice, including the following hurdles:

Hurdle 1: Resistance from the DevOps team

According to a survey by Threat StackĀ®, 68% of companies state that their CEO demands security but that DevOps teams are reluctant to adopt better practices because they see security as a major constraint on the ability to deliver software quickly. Many developers traditionally focus on project deadlines, feature functionality, and product time to market, and they still don’t fully appreciate the importance of application security. This disconnect is one of the biggest challenges of DevSecOps and explains why many quit the transition halfway.

Hurdle 2: Lack of DevSecOps expertise

The lack of DevSecOps experts is another challenge. DevSecOps are usually application security experts who work as part of the application development team to write secure code and integrate security in the CI/CD pipelines. However, two in five organizations have yet to hire a DevSecOps expert. DevSecOps engineers are becoming highly sought after, but it is not easy to hire the right candidates with the right skillsets.

Candidates need a thorough understanding of popular programming languages and should be familiar with CI/CD tools, security tooling, automation tools. They should also be up to speed with microservices and KubernetesĀ®, along with major cloud hosting providers, such as AWSĀ®, AzureĀ®, and GCPĀ®. Retaining these talents once you hire them is another uphill task for most organizations. The low availability of security professionals with DevOps skills is a challenge that particularly affects small to medium enterprises (SME).

Hurdle 3: DevSecOps adoption without the right automation tools in place

Automation is the key to DevSecOps adoption. Working toward a GitOps model of application delivery, in which humans perform little to no manual intervention in application deployments, reduces the risk of human error and tampering. The most common DevSecOps adoption mistake is implementing DevSecOps without scaled automation that all the relevant stakeholders understand well and trust.

There are plenty of tools available in the market now to implement DevSecOps. The first challenge lies in choosing ones that fit well with your organization. The second challenge is properly integrating them to build, deploy, and test deliverables in a continuous manner. It’s not easy to bring together tools from various departments and sync them on one platform. This dilemma becomes even more challenging when most of the enterprise embraces hybrid clouds. That’s why choosing the right tooling, such as GoogleĀ® AnthosĀ®, which helps enforce security policy, validate, and manage configuration drifts across hybrid Kubernetes clusters, is crucial for the success of DevSecOps adoption.

DevSecOps adoption success criteria

The success of DevSecOps relies on three foundational pillarsā€”people, process, and technology.


How can we cultivate a DevSecOps culture? How do we instill security awareness into the DevOps team? How do we train the developers on basic security so that they can be in a better position to collaborate effectively with the security team?

Every process begins with people. The core of DevOpsOps lies in how well the development team, operation team, and security team integrate. You should bridge the gap between traditional silos in these teams by empowering cross-functional teams. Sponsorship from top management is crucial to drive this cultural change.


How do we implement DevSecOps? What is the right DevSecOps process?

No single DevSecOps approach fits all organizations. Adopting DevSecOps is a drawn-out process, and you need the patience to improve and adjust your strategy along the journey. Start small with DevSecOps. Begin with one scrum team and one project, and establish security as code and an automatable set of security checks and processes that other teams can use. Then improve on your process, and do it again. Repeatability is a path for scalability.


What are the right technologies and tooling to enable DevSecOps adoption? How do we ensure that the selected tools can be adapted to help the developers?

Security solutions that use an automation-first and API-driven approach play a key role in this aspect. The right automation tooling can eliminate the security causes delays mentality. By detecting and fixing security issues during the development phases, you can deliver faster and reduce costs in the long run.


It is impossible to have a completely smooth process right off the bat. However, overcoming hurdles creates opportunities for improvements to your efficiency and effectiveness. Most importantly, start the DevSecOps journey early and be patient, so your organization can see the light of success and value at the end of the tunnel.

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Lee Kiat Lian

Lee is Technical Consultant of Advisory Services, Rackspace Technology, South East Asia. Over 25 years in PS consultancy services, his area of expertise includes cloud architecture design, IAM and cloud security solutioning, DevSecOps adoption and transformation, cloud migration assessment, and adoption strategy.

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