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In today’s IT world, the need for organizations to protect the sensitive information of their customers is more than ever. Governments around the world have enforced policies to protect companies against poor management of sensitive information.
This blog post by Moin Syed, Principal Consultant – Advisory & Transformation Services at Cigniti Inc., discusses the importance of regulatory compliance in IT and how can it be achieved while practicing modern software delivery approaches like agile and DevOps.
Compliance is one of the very critical components in IT. But in IT this has a negative inference. The reason being that it brings too much of documented processes involving discussions, paperwork which in turn slows down the most important work of releasing the software.
As the trend of implementing DevOps in IT organizations continues, there is a need to understand how this will impact security and compliance controls. These controls are key enablers of software development activities. So it is very important for organizations to think how regulatory compliance fits in with the cultural and organizational shift which is brought by DevOps to support continuous delivery of software.
Regulatory Compliance in DevOps
DevOps advocates delivering software in an agile fashion by automating the IT delivery chain. This appears to contradict with the goal of regulatory compliance which ensures organizations to not to be exposed to the potential vulnerabilities. Regulatory compliance is mandatory in regulated industries like Healthcare, Banking and Finance.
DevOps automation techniques for continuous delivery can appear to dissatisfy regulatory compliance. But the fact is that DevOps automation can help organizations not only to stay compliant but actually increase their compliance levels. DevOps teams must not only include compliance activities early in the software lifecycle as in the case of testing but also automate the compliance tests. Instead of leaving the security and compliance concerns for later in the release cycle, it is better to deal with them early in the development lifecycle. By doing so, it will be easy to remove the compliance bottlenecks early and bring security, quality, agility and stability into the software value chain. Automation of processes and tests will help reduce the risk of introducing security flaws due to human error.
Maintaining audit trails of software development activities is one of the key requirements of regulatory compliance. The continuous integration mechanism in DevOps can log and track precisely what version of each source code file contributed to which version of the software. Also with continuous deployments, each build can be tagged to assure that the deployments are inspected to deny unauthorized changes moving forward. The automation testing of every build can be checked for regulatory issues. Automation of infrastructure provisioning is another area of DevOps that will help satisfy the regulatory compliance. Infrastructure provisioning scripts are verifiable and testable which can be reliable and reproduce results. All these satisfy the mandatory regulatory requirements.
By adopting the DevOps automation techniques which extend the entire software delivery pipeline, the ability to control, audit, and protect the organizational assets will only increase. This will ensure that the organizations are compliant with regulatory requirements.
The guiding principles of DevOps like automation and validation actually provide in-depth audit and change information to satisfy audit and regulatory compliance needs. Another compliance concern is governance; it is also addressed in DevOps by advocating processes for creating, communicating, and enforcing policies which also includes security and compliance policies across an organization. DevOps actually complements existing processes and methodologies such as ITIL & Agile which help organizations to be compliant.