The concept of merging different areas of development, operations, security, and other “cyberisms” has created a new approach to technical work. First was DevOps, the combination of development and operations. Then, security became part of the equation with DevSecOps. Now, there’s the emergence of XOps, which supports organizing operations with business needs.
With this new strategy, how are organizations rethinking the cybersecurity talent discussion? Let’s find out.
What Is XOps?
XOps describes the uniting of DevOps, DevSecOps, AIOps, and MLOps. It links the critical components of development, deployment, and maintenance to monitor and maintain the process. It injects the power of AI so that automation of these cycles is accurate and repeatable.
XOps is another attempt to reduce system development workflows, intending to deliver software or applications faster while ensuring quality remains.
It’s not solely a mechanism for accelerating the delivery of new iterations. It’s also a practical application to keep operations streamlined and running smoothly. The industry sees it as the evolution of Ops, tying together functions into a cohesive group that considers every aspect of these cycles.
How Did XOps Emerge?
Companies depend on technology more and more, which every enterprise, department, employee, and user needs. The expectations and role of IT to do this has become more critical, with the ultimate objective of providing the best user experiences. As a result, XOps has become very attractive and something that organizations are pursuing.
XOps exists within DevOps, requiring greater collaboration to deliver shortened cycles. It has the same tenets of DevOps, which focuses on a team working together, communicating consistently, and eliminating silo work.
XOps will only thrive when it has a culture to sustain it, which also means that you need the right people, processes, and tools. Next, we’ll review the specific components of XOps and how they impact an organization’s technical teams.
The Components of XOps
XOps provides the ability to monitor, manage, and maintain your infrastructure, applications, and devices. When practicing it, your team has complete visibility into your infrastructure, regardless of size or complexity. Applying XOps to your organization drives the ability to automate IT operations and the development of applications and web projects.
As a result, you can simplify operations and monitoring with the added boost of AI and machine learning. So, there are three main elements:
- DataOps: Automation for all operations in an enterprise (e.g., IT, application, web)
- MLOps: A framework for machine learning and AI models that’s scalable
- DevOps: Users can manage workflows and collaboration with all stakeholders
Is XOps truly something your business should consider? It has many benefits and advantages for companies with any development activities. It’s also a unique strategy that can help technical folks adapt and develop better people skills, which are vital to the success of any Ops principles.
Here are some more of those benefits.
The Benefits of XOps
If you’re already familiar with DevOps, you know how it can streamline, accelerate, and improve. XOps has similar benefits, including:
- Reduction of costs: If you apply automation to processes, you can reduce their expenses and avoid human errors.
- Improvements in reliability: Having systems up and running continuously and avoiding downtime is possible with XOps, as you use a consistent toolbox to perform repeatable tasks.
- Increased productivity: For teams that aren’t at capacity, XOps helps bridge the gap and maximize the talent you do have. The right tools and automation allow your technical workers to focus on the aspects of the cycle that need the most human intervention.
- Simplifying the system: You have a single point of control with XOps that enables you to manage the entire process and reduce the complexity of a large network.
- Modularity and flexibility: The concept of XOps considers modularity in its design so that you can expand the functionality of the framework with new tools or modules.
Realizing these benefits can be a big win for your IT operations and your business. Cutting costs is likely at the top of any company agenda, but with XOps, you don’t compromise quality or security. This sentiment is a big concern for companies, with 70% of information security and IT managers saying their organization sacrifices data security for faster innovation.
That’s a sticking point for cybersecurity professionals. In the ecosystem of XOps, all the parties within the IT umbrella must collaborate effectively. However, cybersecurity may throw up many objections. So, why would they have issues with XOps? It’s most likely a people problem, not a technical one.
Cybersecurity and XOps: Challenges to the Status Quo
It’s no secret that there are serious problems in the cybersecurity landscape. They have nothing to do with technical aptitude and more to do with the mindset, perspective, and approach of cybersecurity professionals.
In my book, The Smartest Person in the Room, I provide insights and commentary on what’s happening in the cybersecurity war. It has far more to do with the actions (and inactions) of those fighting on the side of good.
Cybersecurity folks often have a narrow vision of the world and have very ones and zeros thinking. They have all the answers before you ask the questions. If they don’t like the question, they dismiss it with geek speak and railroad everyone into doing it their way. They often struggle to communicate effectively, have awareness of others, and collaborate. Such fixed mindsets increase the risk to your organization and make implementing XOps a no-go.
So, how do you convert these cybersecurity professionals to understand and embrace XOps?
Implementing XOps: How to Get Cybersecurity on Board
XOps doesn’t happen without the commitment and cooperation of cybersecurity. If the goal of XOps is to iterate smarter and faster, cybersecurity wants to know how and its impact on security. That’s what’s going to be the priority of your cyber team.
Friction arises when cyber specialists resist any change they aren’t entirely fluent in, and since XOps is relatively new, they’ll be throwing up yellow flags. You do have to “sell” them on the benefits. They have to pivot how they think and interact, which is no easy task. It is, however, the focus of the Secure Methodology™, which I developed for this reason.
Here are some quick takeaways for applying the Secure Methodology to support a pivot to XOps.
Using the Secure Methodology to Drive Support for XOps
The Secure Methodology has seven steps, which all drive technical folks to learn and grow. The process helps them improve their soft skills and expand their minds from black-and-white thinking. Here’s how each one can support the adoption of XOps.
- Awareness: There are two aspects of awareness, for self and others. Technical minds often lack self-awareness because it requires reflection. Understanding the self is only part of this and must expand to considering others. With enlightened awareness, people will work together better and have stronger problem-solving skills.
- Mindset: You want to grow someone from a fixed mindset to one of growth. Encouraging openness to new ideas, which XOps is, is how you move people from fixed to growth. It’s all about change, which is hard but certainly possible.
- Acknowledgment: There are many layers of acknowledgment, including self-acceptance and how leaders use it with teams. Praising positive change and outcomes is vital in cybersecurity culture and XOps. This positive reinforcement also facilitates gradual change.
- Communication: Developing better communication skills for your team is a must for XOps. Your cyber team must work with development, operations, and others. The requirement is articulating concerns or ideas in an inclusive way. Additionally, listening to and truly understanding others is the other part of communication.
- Monotasking: Should you only be doing one task at a time? It’s a different approach than doing many (multitasking). Really, it’s about focusing efforts on what thing at a time, which improves the quality of everything. Since XOps invites automation into the workflow, cyber workers can monotask without the pressures of repetitive tasks.
- Empathy: In the sixth step, empathy ties directly to perspective. Your cyber team needs to “get” the points and viewpoints of development, operations, and others. In developing empathy in your people, focus on communication skills that uncover answers versus jumping to conclusions or going off assumptions.
- Kaizen: The final phase is not the end. Rather, it’s the practice of continuous improvement and progress. As your technical employees improve their soft skills, they’ll continue to grow, and that’s crucial for a thriving XOps culture.
XOps could be an evolution for your organization and the talent that supports it. In building a cyber team capable of adopting XOps, people skills and their ability to be flexible and agile are imperative. Using the Secure Methodology, you can drive your technical employees to improve on these things. When they do, they’ll see XOps for its benefits rather than being naysayers. It’s all about change and growth, which any business needs to cultivate to succeed.
You can learn more about the Secure Methodology by checking out the virtual course, now available!