In this digital era, everyone is aware of custom software development services. Software supply chain in essence is how software is developed and distributed to customers. The concept of a software supply chain highly correlates with the traditional supply chain of goods. The meaning of the traditional supply chain is straightforward. It is related to the delivery of your product, including all the necessary events from development to the delivery of the product.
To clarify this concept, let’s look at the example of the supply of an automobile. The supply chain of a car includes major in-house components which includes engines and third-party components like handles, wiper blades, brake lights, and manufacturing processes like tooling and assembling the car. The workers work to make the final products and, finally, supply the car to the potential customers. Software supply chain operates in a similar manner to the process outlined above. Continue reading this blog to develop a better understanding of the software supply chain.
What is a Software Supply Chain?
A software supply chain is a well-structured process that explains how the components or raw materials go through development and are transformed into the final products and, finally, distributed to the customers.
The awareness of the usage of open-source components in SDLC is increasing and therefore, in 2014 a new phrase, software supply chain, was introduced. Sonatype was the first to embrace this phrase and also use its extension, “software supply chain management.”
The software supply chain includes the following components:
- In-house components like custom codes.
- Third-party components like open-source dependencies and libraries.
- The manufacturing infrastructure includes DevOps tools that make up the CD/CI process.
- The workers develop the software and distribute it.
- The delivery pipelines.
How Does Supply Chain Work?
The traditional supply chain’s manufacturing process is divided into four stages: procurement, production, distribution, and customer interaction with the product. In the same way, the software supply chain consists of the same manufacturing stages, such as sourcing, development, DevOps, and customer success.
Let’s discuss each stage in detail.
Sourcing of the Components
Sourcing is like procurement. In this stage, the open-source components from the storage place are pulled into the development environment. This is the most strategic stage of the software supply chain, where cost and quality matter a lot. Open-sources are free of cost, but the cost is still a pertinent factor because the development process of software is expensive, and low-quality components need rectification.
Therefore, the selection of the highest quality open-source components is an essential component of the software supply chain. Successful organizations rely on trusted open sources and utilize them during software development. According to an estimation, the use of open-source components is increasing on a daily basis, and the downloads of Python and Java components increased by 92% and 71% in 2021, respectively.
The next step after procurement is development, like the production stage of the traditional supply chain. The difference between the production and the development stage is that the developer writes their own codes to create the features of the software. In the development stage, the software is built by transferring the components to the developers. After development, the applications are stored until they are ready to distribute. The quality of the application depends on the efficiency of the development process.
After the development, the developers move towards the third stage, which is DevOps. In the traditional supply chain, the third stage is distribution, which refers to the supply of goods safely and quickly to the customers. However, the distribution in the case of SDLC is different from the traditional supply chain.
In DevOps, the continuous improvement and delivery of the software is ensured. Furthermore, DevOps optimizes speed and consistency of the application’s delivery. In short, in DevOps, your goal is to shorten the software delivery cycles while maintaining the stability of the deployment of the finished product.
The last step in the traditional supply chain is the customer interface, but we call it customer success in the software supply chain. This stage refers to the interaction of the final application with the customer. The objective of this stage is to determine whether the software meets the demands of the customers or not.
Security of The Software Supply Chain
Software supply chain attacks are on the rise and statistical analysis by Gartner estimates that about 45 % of companies will experience software supply chains attack worldwide by 2025. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you secure the software supply chain.
When it comes to securing the software supply chain, it is crucial to understand what goes on in a supply chain. If you lack an understanding of the critical stages of the supply chain, it would be easy for attackers to breach your software supply chain.
You can use many tools to secure the software supply chain. These software tools include SAST that help to identify security risks in custom codes. The other is SCA, which rectifies the security vulnerability in third-party dependencies.
These are the basics about the stages of software supply that one must understand in order to secure a software-delivering pipeline and protect it from security threats.