We have covered the key themes we expect to see at the RSA Conference, so now we will cover a theme or two you probably won’t see at the show (or not enough of, at least), but really should. The first is this DevOps things guys like Gene Kim are pushing. It may not be obvious yet, but DevOps promises to upend everything you know about building and launching applications, and make a fundamental mark on security. Or something I like to call “SecOps”.

DevOps, Cloud, and the Death of Traditional IT

Recently in one of my cloud security classes I had a developer in attendance from one of those brand-name consumer properties all of you, and your families, probably use. When he writes a code update he checks it in and marks it for production; then a string of automated tools and handoffs runs it through test suites and security checks, and eventually deploys it onto their infrastucture/platform automatically. The infrastructure itself adjusts to client demands (scaling up and down), and the concept of an admin accessing a production server is an anachronism.

At the latest Amazon Web Services conference, Adobe (I believe the speaker was on the Creative Cloud team) talked about how they deploy their entire application stack using a series of AWS templates. They don’t patch or upgrade servers, but use templates to provision an entirely new stack, slowly migrate traffic over, and then shut down the old one when they know everything works okay. The developers use these templates to define the very infrastructure they run on, then deploy applications on top of it.

Microsoft Office? In the cloud. Your CRM tool? In the cloud. HR? Cloud. File servers? Cloud. Collaboration? Cloud. Email? Cloud. Messaging? Get the picture? Organizations can move almost all (and sometimes all) their IT operations onto cloud-based services.

DevOps is fundamentally transforming IT operations. It has its flaws, but if implemented well it offers clear advantages for agility, resiliency, and operations. At the same time, cloud services are replacing many traditional IT functions. This powerful combination has significant security implications. Currently many security pros are completely excluded from these projects, as DevOps and cloud providers take over the most important security functions.

Only a handful of security vendors are operating in this new model, and you will see very few sessions address it. But make no mistake – DevOps and the Death of IT will show up as a key theme within the next couple years, following the same hype cycle as everything else. But like the cloud these trends are real and here to stay, and have an opportunity to become the dominant IT model in the future.