Policy-As-Code Definitions and Benefits

Encora | May 05, 2022

A popular approach to policy management is called policy-as-code. This is a practice where policies are described, improved, shared, and enforced using code. Using policy as code allows the creation of code-based automation and removes the need to manually check for policy compliance. This process allows teams to work more efficiently and reduce the number of human errors. In this article, we’ll discuss what is policy-as-code, the many benefits of policy-as-code, two policy-as-code use cases and where to go to get expert engineering help with policy-as-code. 

What is Policy-As-Code?

Before we can go into a thorough definition of what policy-as-code is, we first need to define policy in the context of computer programming. Any rule, condition, or instruction that dictates IT processes or operations is considered a policy. This is often found in the context of security, with policies in place to make sure code is secure and compliant. A policy could also be a pre-planned response to an event like a security breach. 

With policy-as-code, programmers write the IT policies into their code using some programming language. The language used will vary depending on the policy-as-code administration and enforcement software your team will be using. Future code updates can be monitored by others on their team to ensure compliance through version control systems (VCS). Finally, enforcement programs can be used to make sure all policy requirements are met. Your program could be standalone or built into a platform that is larger. 

Benefits of Policy-As-Code

Managing rules, conditions, and procedures manually is clumsy, time-consuming, and greatly increases the chances of human error. Automating policies using code offers many benefits, including: 

1. Become more efficient

Writing out policies in code means that not only can they be shared infinitely, they can also be enforced automatically. This is far, far more efficient than engineers being required to manually enforce a policy whenever the need arises. Policy-as-code also makes it easier to update policies as they change, which can save a great deal of time down the road. Using code to define policies also eliminates different human interpretations of the rules.

 

2. Increased speed

Rather than applying policy manually, policy-as-code greatly speeds up the process. This allows automated policy enforcement to be used. 

 

3. Better visibility

It’s easy for all stakeholders to use the code and understand what is occurring in the system with policy-as-code. It’s simple to check alerts against the rules by seeing what code-based policies are being used. Great visibility benefits all of the stakeholders and will improve the quality of any finished product. 

 

4. Easier collaboration

Collaboration between team members and teams becomes much easier with a unified system for managing policies as policy-as-code. Often different teams, like developers or security, work in very different ways, so having everyone working with the same policy-as-code process, makes it collaboration much simpler. 

 

5. More accuracy

Defining and managing policies with code grants teams more accuracy and protects them from making errors when configuring their system by hand. This saves time and money for the team and the organization. 

 

6. Greater access to version control

If you and your team are tracking your different versions of policy changes on file, then policy-as-code makes it easy to access previous versions if changes to policy cause problems. This can save hundreds of hours of labor, and creates a more secure process. 

 

7. Support Testing and Automation

Policy-as-code makes it simple to validate policies using automated tools. This greatly decreases the chances of serious errors being introduced. It also shortens the amount of time needed to do testing and validation, which decreases deployment time, and increases the quality of a finished product. 

 

Use Cases for Policy-As-Code

Here are two potential policy-as-code use cases.

1. Access control for application services

Employing authorization control for applications is one of the most common use cases for policy-as-code. Authorization is checked by an API to the policy engine, which then outputs if the request is authorized. 

 

2. Specific requirement enforcement within the cloud

Infrastructure provisioning positions you to enforce rules and conditions on resources on the public cloud.

 

Policy-As-Code with Engineering from Encora

Here at Encora, our teams of expert engineers are standing by to help your organization leverage the greater efficiency and security offered by policy-as-code. Increase your team’s deployment speed, the ease of use for all stakeholders, and simplify collaboration between teams. Policy-as-code also increases accuracy, offers version control, and makes testing and validation easier. Whatever your policy-as-code needs are, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started. 

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