Why full-stack observability is critical for a successful DevSecOps approach

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Why full-stack observability is critical for a successful DevSecOps approach
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Why full-stack observability is critical for a successful DevSecOps approach

In the face of ever-growing security threats, DevSecOps teams need full-stack observability to help break down siloes and allow technologists to continue to deliver innovation, argues Erwan Paccard, Director of Product Marketing at Cisco AppDynamics

In response to the pandemic, technologists implemented digital transformation projects 3X faster than any previous time, according to The Agents of Transformation 2021: the rise of full-stack observability. Rapid innovation for enterprises has remained a constant challenge for IT teams as they continue to manage the increased pressure placed on them to provide flawless digital experiences and sustain digital business growth. At the same time security threats have increased at an unprecedented rate. Ransomware attacks, for example, skyrocketed by 62% in the last two years and in another recent report the average cost of a data breach among companies reached $4.24 million per incident in 2021, the highest in 17 years. Here, Erwan Paccard, Director of Product Marketing, Cisco AppDynamics explains why DevSecOps teams need full-stack observability to continue to deliver innovation in the face of ever-growing security threats.

Ensuring the security of a business' software and IT infrastructure is critical, but so too is the need for security and innovation to thrive side-by-side. Historically software developers and security teams have worked in silos with conflicting goals of disruption to innovate versus stability to manage risks. These conflicting goals can dramatically slow response times and hamper the vital improvements required to strengthen defenses against cyber-attacks. The emergence of DevSecOps - a modern approach to software development where DevOps and security teams collaborate and come together earlier in the software lifecycle - is a vital step in the right direction. 

But are DevSecOps teams failing to maximize their full potential due to a lack of comprehensive visibility across the entire IT environment? Can full-stack observability provide the answer as enterprises look to balance rapid digital transformation with a strong security posture?

From DevOps to DevSecOps

DevOps consists of a team of developers and IT operations converging together throughout all of the phases of application development and production support to deliver better digital services, faster. The goal of a DevOps approach is to accelerate innovation through numerous smaller increments to better control innovation with easier problem identification and resolution.

DevSecOps takes things a step further and incorporates security considerations at the beginning of the application development lifecycle for a more proactive approach to reduce risks of threats to sensitive customer data.

From application availability, performance, and the customer experience all the way down to supporting services, internal networks and servers, DevSecOps brings application and security teams together to pre-emptively fix code vulnerabilities, avoid risky patterns and better defend against cyber-attacks. This involves engineering threat modeling and vulnerability assessments into the application as it is built rather than at the end of the development cycle.

In order for DevSecOps teams to be successful, not only do they need transparency and clear communication, but they need to embrace a cultural shift of teams working together to avoid bottlenecks. It is also crucial that they use unified processes, data and tools to ensure everyone is aligned with the same clear overview of the entire IT estate, from the software to the underlying supporting hardware and services.

The need for full-stack observability

Full-stack observability provides an overview of the entire IT estate enabling teams to monitor the entire IT stack, from customer-facing applications down to supporting services, core network and infrastructure. Full-stack observability is vital for technologists to identify and fix availability and performance issues before they adversely affect customers and the business. It gives DevSecOps teams visibility into the entire IT stack, including traditional legacy systems through to new, native cloud environments as well as hybrid deployments, and provides enterprises with in-depth visibility across the entire IT estate, using high fidelity metrics, event, logs and traces.

An advanced full-stack observability platform will go even further, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to proactively track availability, performance and diagnose problems early before the impact on customers and the business. This approach gives DevSecOps teams the means to understand the impact of health and utilization patterns of the entire IT estate, to drive software updates, patches and improvements as rapidly as possible and align with user and business priorities.

Full-stack observability with business context enables IT performance issues to be linked to business impact, so organizations can prioritize the actions that need to have priority and be equipped to make key decisions that ensure customer satisfaction and maximize revenue.

96% of technologists surveyed in the Agents of Transformation report recognize that having the ability to monitor all technical areas across their IT stack and directly link performance to business outcomes is essential to delivering fast-class digital experiences and accelerating digital transformation. However, 66% of them admitted that they lack the strategy and tools to do this.

Working together to modernize application development

A modern software architecture uses highly distributed topologies and requires a new protection approach against security threats. This can only be done with the required speed and efficiency by adopting a DevSecOps approach to developing new products and services. This needs all members of the team to be able to view application availability, performance, health and utilization pattern data through a single lens.

Having access to real-time availability, performance and security data through a modern observability platform is essential not just for optimizing an application's availability and performance, but also for directly identifying and targeting evolving threats on the ever increasing attack surface of highly distributed applications. This will enable teams to detect and react to security issues faster, improving the organization's overall security posture.

When teams are aligned around a shared data overview, they can share responsibility for any issues, and collaborate more effectively to reduce application downtime. The integration of full-stack observability into an organization's DevSecOps arsenal will ensure that it is able to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

This article was produced in association with Cisco AppDynamics

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