The software development life cycle (SDLC), sometimes also referred to as the software development process, is a standard project management framework that organizations use to create high-quality software with an accelerated time to production and lowered overall cost. The SDLC approach to software development typically begins by looking for deficiencies that may be present within an existing system, defining the requirements associated with a new and improved system, then designing and creating the software for that new system.
Adopting the SDLC approach helps businesses clarify their goals, more effectively manage software projects, ensure project continuity in the event of departing team members, properly test software before it goes into production, and increase the likelihood of completing the project on time and within budget. The SDLC is also a repeatable process whose later phases feed back into the initial phases, enabling businesses to continually refine and improve their applications over time.
There are many SDLC models in use today, each with its own distinct advantages and limitations. Some SDLC approaches incorporate the agile methodology, which allows for more flexibility and incremental iteration, while others rely on the more linear and sequential waterfall methodology.
Each SDLC framework tends to consist of between five and seven distinct phases, depending on the company involved and its specific goals for software development. The core SDLC phases are usually concerned with software design, development, testing, and deployment.
Here are the seven most common phases found in an SDLC approach:
While businesses often want to get new code out as quickly as possible in order to maximize opportunities in the market, this strategy sometimes fails to properly account for security concerns. Some businesses may discover unintended vulnerabilities that have the potential to gravely compromise their own corporate data as well as that of their clients. Some of the most severe breaches that have appeared in newspaper headlines in recent years have occurred because the businesses involved have not adequately prioritized security concerns early enough in the SDLC.
As awareness of the importance of application security has increased in recent years, more companies have begun factoring security concerns earlier into the SDLC. In doing so, they can better mitigate potential risks, detect bugs sooner, identify user experience problems earlier, and lower the costs involved with remediating all of these issues later on in the software development process. DevSecOps, a security-focused evolution of the popular DevOps concept of software design and deployment, seeks to explicitly embed application security best practices earlier into the SDLC.
Address security early on. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting web applications, so businesses must prioritize security concerns earlier in the SDLC. This is especially true if the software in question is mission-critical. Tapping the benefits of a web application security scanner and conducting other forms of web application security testing earlier in the process helps your business reduce risk, resolve emerging issues before they become major headaches, and cut costs.
The SDLC is an effective methodology for designing and creating software, but it especially shines when all stakeholders prioritize security concerns and thoughtfully weave security testing early into the process. By taking a security-conscious approach to your SDLC and encouraging effective collaboration among your teams, your business can bring high-quality software to market in less time and with fewer headaches along the way.