What news from AWS re:Invent last week will have the most impact on you?
Amazon Q, an AI chatbot for explaining how AWS works.
Super-fast S3 Express storage.
New Graviton 4 processor instances.
Emily Freeman leaving AWS.
I don't use AWS, so none of this will affect me.
DevOps / Operations / Software Development

10 Things to Consider When Allowing Access to Production

The realities of development often necessitate granting access to production, which comes with risks.
Nov 6th, 2023 11:14am by
Featued image for: 10 Things to Consider When Allowing Access to Production
Image from Panchenko Vladimir on Shutterstock

The perpetual tug of war between security and productivity has been an unresolved challenge for developers. In an ideal scenario, production environments would remain untouched, shielded from all but the most trusted hands. As long as nothing is touched, nothing can be broken.

But the realities of development often necessitate granting access to production, which comes with risks. It’s no exaggeration to say that one mistake could break everything. At the same time, break-glass scenarios require the right people to have access to production — and fast.

As with many dilemmas, the question of access to production is a balancing game, in this case between productivity and security. Here are the 10 main factors to consider when determining what level of access to production a team should have and how to strike the perfect balance.

The 10 Main Factors

  1. Code Errors

  • Benefit: Faster feedback loops: Immediate feedback on code changes and their results can help developers find errors faster and catch them early in the development process.
  • Risk: Accidental outages: Developers, in their quest to improve, might inadvertently disrupt production services through coding errors or misconfigurations.
  1. Code Quality

  • Benefit: Improved software quality: Access to production gives developers firsthand insights into how their code behaves in a real-world environment, leading to enhanced code quality.
  • Risk: Data loss or corruption: Inexperienced developers could accidentally delete or change critical data, resulting in data loss or corruption.
  1. Security

  • Benefit: Shorter mean time to detection: Direct access enables issues to be identified and resolved more quickly, reducing downtime.
  • Risk: Introducing vulnerabilities: Accessing production systems may introduce security vulnerabilities, potentially exposing sensitive data or creating security holes.
  1. Access

  • Benefit: Rapid deployment and updates: Developers can deploy changes promptly, a crucial feat in fast-paced development cycles.
  • Risk: Unauthorized access: Misuse of access privileges, intentional or not, can lead to data breaches or security incidents.
  1. Accountability

  • Benefit: Knowledge transfer: Developers who are familiar with the production environment can transfer their expertise, improving overall team capability and reducing reliance.
  • Risk: Limited accountability: Identifying the source of problems or breaches can be challenging in shared or unregulated environments.
  1. Environment Stability

  • Benefit: Effective monitoring: By watching for anomalies, developers can detect issues and respond to them proactively while enhancing system availability.
  • Risk: Operational disruptions: Frequent access for troubleshooting can destabilize the production environment.
  1. Autonomy

  • Benefit: Agile development: Developers can practice agile techniques more effectively directly in the development environment, facilitating rapid experimentation and feature rollout.
  • Risk: Uncontrolled changes: Changes made without proper oversight can lead to undocumented alterations and management difficulties.
  1. Costs

  • Benefit: Operational cost savings: Empowering developers to oversee routine operational tasks and troubleshoot issues can reduce additional operational costs.
  • Risk: Legal and compliance issues: Mishandling sensitive data can result in costly legal and compliance problems.
  1. End-User Experience

  • Benefit: Continuous improvement: With feedback and real-world data from the production environment, developers can continuously improve applications and services, leading to better user experiences.
  • Risk: Resource constraints: Excessive troubleshooting activities can cause unnecessary strain on resources, potentially causing latency or errors.
  1. Team Structure and Responsibilities

  • Benefit: Enhanced collaboration: Getting developers and operations working together more efficiently improves system performance and stability.
  • Risk: Lack of separation of duties: Developers with both development and production access may encounter conflicts of interest.

A Path to Balance

In modern dynamic organizations, managing access can quickly become more complicated than it should be. A more agile solution involves enabling application developers to provision and deprovision their own access, ideally with automated workflows, provided it adheres to strict access controls. With the right mechanisms in place, developers can gain temporary access for debugging, access that is automatically revoked when no longer needed.

Automated least-privilege access governance solutions like Apono empower organizations to strike the right balance. By prioritizing both security and productivity, these solutions ensure that access to production remains not just a necessity, but a managed and secure asset, benefitting developers and organizations alike.

About Apono

Apono is a cloud native centralized access management platform that keeps organizations secure with simple and precise just-in-time permissions across the DevOps domain. Apono is self-servable, takes just minutes to deploy and easily integrates with your existing cloud services, Kubernetes, data repositories, and other R&D applications. With Apono, you can view existing permissions and easily enable dynamic contextual access workflows directly from Slack, Teams or CLI.

Try it for yourself and check out the documentation page for in-depth information, use cases and more.

Group Created with Sketch.
TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
THE NEW STACK UPDATE A newsletter digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.