General security

DevOps, SecOps, DevSecOps, PrivacyOps & AIOps: What’s the difference?

August 25, 2020 by Graeme Messina

Introduction

Many people often wonder about what DevOps is and what a DevOps engineer actually does. DevOps tools range from scripts to applications and systems to help automate and integrate development procedures within an IT operations environment. We have gathered a list of useful information and we hope to give you a better idea as to what the DevOps meaning is within IT operations.

Over the years, there has been a move within IT operations towards development integration. This resulted in what we now know as DevOps (Development Operations), which in turn led to a shift in the way that companies roll out software products and maintain infrastructure. DevOps has automated and streamlined many different aspects of day to day computing. This method of delivering continuous improvements through seamless integration has led to many different types of operations, namely: DevOps, SecOps, DevSecOps, PrivacyOps and AIOps.

DevOps, SecOps, DevSecOps, PrivacyOps & AIOps: Definitions and explanations

Defining DevOps

DevOps can be thought of as a combination of best practices within software development and IT operations, giving us the name DevOps. The whole idea is to reduce the time it takes within the development life cycle to bring a product into production while providing continuous delivery with high-quality software outcomes. 

DevOps works very well with Agile software development best practices, as many of DevOps’ features were taken from Agile’s approach to software development.

DevOps in a nutshell

DevOps focuses on something known as continuous integration. It uses a central repository to store code in, and developers continually merge their work with each release of software. This framework lets developers automatically run tests against their new code, finding bugs and issues before any problems are accidentally released into the live environment. This lets developers find bugs and release high-quality products.

As each new change is made, the code will be built and tested automatically, meaning that there is always a version of the code ready for deployment. This is a huge advantage for organizations that release software often, allowing for bug fixes and deployments with seamless operation.

Developers are able to leverage the infrastructure of the operational environment within their code, letting them trigger different tools and services across the organization from within their application. Examples of this are change management controls, network and firewall configurations, backups and more. Specific actions can be automated and managed from within the code, giving developers control of the infrastructure.

DevOps focuses heavily on collaboration, which means that departments within the organization often share workflows and tasks between them, ensuring rapid cooperation and deployments are possible. DevOps also focuses heavily on understanding application performance, so logging and live diagnostics are a huge part of DevOps.

Defining SecOps

What is SecOps? SecOps was created as the need for greater security within IT operations became essential for doing business. The end result is that the tools that are used by security teams, as well as security best practices, are all rolled up into the development of systems used by IT operations within an organization. 

When SecOps is used, business data is more secure and greater agility is possible for businesses thanks to the integration of security and operations together into an integrated methodology.

SecOps in a nutshell

SecOps comes from the same kind of thinking that DevOps does, which means that there is a large Agile component to successfully implementing it. SecOps is great at opening up an organization and removing silos. This is no small feat as it often requires that the entire organization lets go of the concept of individual competing departments in favor of a unified and open series of teams and departments.

SecOps differs from DevOps in a few ways. For instance, dev teams are not necessary in order for a company to adopt SecOps. In the barest of cases, all that is needed to adopt SecOps is for the IT operations and security teams to work more closely together and involve one another in each other’s processes.

This makes SecOps more of a collaborative framework and could be thought of as a first step towards adopting a more open operational model. Once SecOps is up and running, and the different teams are working well together, then more advanced frameworks can slowly be introduced, like DevSecOps.

Defining DevSecOps

We’ve probably all heard about it, but what is the actual DevSecOps meaning? DevSecOps takes SecOps a step further as it integrates not only the best practices of software development, security and operations, but it also introduces accountability across the organization. By adopting this kind of framework, organizations are able to make decisions about security requirements just as quickly as they would for a development or operational matter while focusing on the security ramifications of each decision.

DevSecOps in a nutshell

DevSecOps is a merger between the principles of DevOps and SecOps which brings the best of both worlds together. This means that once adopted, companies can expect to reap the benefits of faster deployments with enhanced collaboration between teams. We can think of it as DevOps with all the security benefits of SecOps.

What this means is that instead of a security team looking over code once it is completed and highlighting areas of concern, they are included in the entire process and actually affect the way in which products are created from the start. This kind of security integration helps to fight many vulnerabilities that are found in the OWASP threat lists. By integrating security from the design phase, you can add important features like data validation.

The great thing about this approach is that security procedures can be built into every stage of the product life cycle. Security is implemented from development to deployment while maintaining the flexibility and agility of DevOps.

Defining PrivacyOps

PrivacyOps takes new global privacy standards into account such as PIIA, LGPD, CCPA and GDPR, and then integrates them into their automation procedures, infrastructure, best practices and orchestration systems. If information cannot be retained past a certain time frame, then it must be removed in accordance with the PrivacyOps standards that have been adopted throughout the organization.

PrivacyOps in a nutshell

PrivacyOps makes sense for organizations that operate in a market that is highly regulated and where privacy is a priority with authorities. Breaching any of the various privacy regulations makes the organization vulnerable to fines or even being kicked out of a specific region. By integrating PrivacyOps, the organization becomes more aware of what their privacy obligations are not only to their customer-facing services, but between internal departments as well.

PrivacyOps also establishes the need for enhanced record storage and data retrieval, especially when important records need to be accessed at a moment’s notice. This creates a system that management can look at in real time and understand their current privacy risks. If changes to the sector are implemented that would affect privacy regulations, then PrivacyOps offers a rapid means to change data collection and retrieval standards to remain compliant with regulatory requirements.

PrivacyOps is another framework that encourages wider collaboration between teams. For instance, PrivacyOps normally encompasses teams that would not normally be associated with IT operations, such as legal departments, compliance departments and even marketing. In addition to these teams there are also more traditional collaborative efforts from teams such as Security, Developers and the IT department.

Defining AIOps

What is AIOps? Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) uses big data with machine learning and artificial intelligence to automatically detect and resolve common IT operations issues. This is very useful for large networks where there is a lot of data constantly being gathered.

AIOps in a nutshell

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more commonplace in business. The ability of these technologies to train on large data sets creates a lot of value. AIOps is referred to when AI and ML technologies are combined with a DevOps type framework. The deep learning capabilities of this approach are highly beneficial because of the speed at which training on large datasets occurs.

If new data is added to an existing set, then retraining is relatively quick and easy to do for AI systems. 

Another key advantage to adopting AI into your operational environment is the way that it helps to identify insights into the way that your system operates. Companies that use AI to work with their data are often surprised by the solutions that the technology uncovers while analyzing their data. 

Operationally speaking, AI can identify patterns in the way specific tasks are carried out. Once those patterns are identified, you can place triggers that will start additional procedures to respond to certain events. These automated responses act on behalf of the DevOps/AIOps teams and can seriously free up some extra time for engineers so that they can focus on more pressing issues instead of completing repetitive tasks.

Conclusion

Like so many comparisons in the world of IT operations and cybersecurity, there are no definitive answers on what the best framework is. This is because each company and department will have different requirements. 

No single framework can cover an entire organization’s requirements, which is why you are most likely to find that companies use a selection of approaches that merge together into a collection of different frameworks. Each industry and sector will have specific requirements that lean towards one framework or another, so there is no way that a definitive winner can be picked.

Instead, we have defined each one and discussed why the methodology does what it does, and why a company might consider one approach over another. There are so many similarities between each one that you would be hard pressed to point out a clear-cut example in the real world. Organizations are beginning to realize the importance of adopting an Agile-like approaches in running their companies, which is why the lines between each ops style are beginning to blur. Modern businesses require automated, secure and reliable systems, and as we move closer towards realizing this goal, the more robust and widespread these systems become. 

 

Sources

  1. Future of DevOps: DevSecOps, AIOps and something else?, Hacker Noon
  2. What Is SecOps | SecOps Definition: Redefining core security capabilities, SaltStack
  3. What is DevSecOps?, Forcepoint
  4. The Pursuit of Productivity: DevOps, PrivacyOps and AIOps, Infosecurity Magazine
  5. AIOps (artificial intelligence for IT operations), TechTarget
Posted: August 25, 2020
Articles Author
Graeme Messina
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Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics and computer security. When not building networks and researching the latest developments in network security, he can be found writing technical articles and blog posts at InfoSec Resources and elsewhere.