What Is Policy As Code (PAC)?

What Is Policy As Code (PAC)

Policy as code helps streamline software development processes with automation and collaboration tools that allow teams to write policies in human-readable text files. This enables them to easily adapt resource configuration and improve testing and compliance efforts.

DevOps workflows also benefit from using policy-driven approaches, with developers creating rules and procedures in a general purpose or domain specific programming language to enhance monitoring, security and compliance measures.

What Is Policy As Code PAC?

Policy-as-code (PaC) allows organizations to scale deployments while improving security and compliance, by storing policies as code in programming language and an enforcement engine.

PaC provides for automation and integration that accelerates time to market while embedding security into infrastructure, applications, microservices, data, visibility, accuracy and consistency for greater speed to market.

Defining Policy-As-Code

Policy-as-code approaches help simplify DevSecOps workflow by creating and executing policies during development, giving developers more freedom in testing code against policies without additional approval or delay, as well as decreasing engineers’ response times when issues arise. With such an approach in place, quality code will be thoroughly validated early on to prevent costly mistakes later.

Policy-as-code provides teams with an efficient means of using collaboration tools, version control systems, and automation in their efforts. This means defining and updating policies can occur concurrently with infrastructure provisioning, CI/CD pipelines, or any other automation tools. Furthermore, policy-as-code allows developers to move faster when it comes time to deploy software.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which codifies system configuration parameters into human-readable form, applies similarly to policy as code: It converts rules, best practices and policies into automated forms that can be automated using policy engines that work similarly to software compilers when translating structured code into implementations. Policy engines check for inconsistencies and syntax errors to reduce enforcement or implementation errors ideally eliminating policy enforcement errors from occurring altogether.

Policy-as-Code vs. Infrastructure as Code

Policy-as-code provides a more systematic approach to configuring systems. Additionally, it ensures policies are continuously implemented throughout development processes reducing errors in production as well as making auditing current configurations simpler.

Teams that use code to define and manage policies can leverage an easy-to-use high-level programming language to align with their infrastructure provisioning workflow, making it possible to develop, test and enforce policies across their entire infrastructure.

Policy-as-code can also be easily utilized by DevSecOps teams and other stakeholders involved in deployment processes, since its human-readable syntax allows it to be readily used by them as well as run through CI/CD tools to automate deployment and update of infrastructure configuration.

Snyk offers solutions designed to work seamlessly with existing infrastructure and platforms, automating policy decisions that were once handled manually and error-prone. Their wide array of systems help users implement policy-as-code during software lifecycle management and manage it throughout its existence.

Why Do You Need Policy-as-Code?

Policy-as-code can provide many advantages, such as increased visibility and collaboration, easier testing, faster time to market, avoiding human errors and adhering to policies consistently across teams, as well as making it simple for developers to see the effect of changes with an automated process for testing, verifying and improving policies.

Policy as Code provides organizations with another advantage in controlling access across infrastructure environments, enabling them to limit unauthorized access or ensure cost optimization. When combined with an authorization platform, Policy as Code helps ensure only authorized users gain access to sensitive digital workloads and apps.

But there are various tools available to us that can assist us with creating this type of policy-enforcement framework. Puppet Enterprise allows users to easily create, test, and deploy policies as infrastructure code; HashiCorp Sentinel enforces policy enforcement for Kubernetes deployments; while GitLab CI/CD allows integrations with policy engines in order to test, verify, and approve configurations before being sent into production.

How Does Policy-as-Code Work?

Policy-as-Code is an approach for documenting policies, rules and best practices as code. Enforcement and implementation can then be automated through software called a policy engine for increased automation and reduced human error – leading to faster operations overall. Policy engines can apply across any kind of infrastructure whether network security configuration or Kubernetes cluster parameters are involved.

Utilizing a quality tool with support for policy-as-code will enable your organization to reap maximum benefit from this concept. With such software at your fingertips, you will be able to develop, test, communicate and enforce policies more easily while reducing error risks from manual processes.

Policies written in a scripted language can easily be stored and integrated into version control systems like Git. Engineers can easily integrate them into continuous integration/continuous deployment workflows to perform automated testing against them and ensure changes don’t break existing code, leading to improved software delivery. They can even be run against an isolated test environment to check that minor code modifications won’t alter existing policies or leave holes in coverage.

1. Policy

Policy-as-code allows organizations to manage policies by creating, editing, sharing and enforcing them through code. This enables teams to accelerate processes using DevOps automation features while minimizing risks of human error. Furthermore, Policy-as-code makes it easy for stakeholders from different domains (like developers and security engineers ) to understand and collaborate on policies.

Traditional policies are written up as human-readable text documents, which is time consuming and costly to update with changes, making it easy for policies to be misinterpreted or disobeyed improperly.

Policy-as-code requires policies to be written using programming languages such as Python or YAML, then stored in version control systems such as GitHub or BitBucket and enforced by a policy engine. Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment pipelines can then easily test these policies before being deployed to production servers, with configuration reviews before going live enabling teams to ensure consistency and accuracy; particularly important when dealing with complex infrastructure environments like clouds and datacenters.

2. Query

Policy-as-code files are easily readable scripted files that provide all the terms and conditions on how something should be done, usually written using high-level programming languages such as YAML or Python that is compatible with different tools used within an organization. They are then entered into a policy engine which uses them as decision making criteria about implementing applications or infrastructure projects.

Most policy-as-code solutions can leverage data from external systems to inform their decision-making processes, including accessing an AST tool, version control system or even results of code quality scanning tools such as Checkov.

Organizations can take advantage of specialized tools without needing to build them from the ground up, eliminating duplication of effort and risk as policies are applied across environments. Policy-as-code allows organizations to take full advantage of DevOps workflows while improving overall consistency and speed in application security testing, helping teams achieve higher software quality without impacting development velocity.

3. Data

Organizations use policies to ensure new software releases are of high quality, easy to deploy, and secure; but these processes rely heavily on human interpretation – which makes them time consuming and error prone.

Policy written as code can be leveraged with automation tools to simplify collaboration among teams on reviewing, revising and suggesting changes to policies – helping improve and accelerate processes.

Policy as code helps mitigate errors by validating policies before they enter production, helping increase security and ease compliance with regulations such as GDPR. With policy as code you can also automate policy management across environments – for instance with popular configuration management, CI/CD, and automation tools such as Open Policy Agent (OPA), HashiCorp Sentinel, Terraform all providing capabilities for policy as code implementation – such tools can take in policies for compliance testing purposes before performing steps to address any potential issues with their policy implementation.

Benefits of Policy As Code

Policy-as-code simplifies team collaboration on the implementation and management of policies. By treating policies as code, they can be managed using similar tools and processes used by developers when building applications – including version control, automation, and testing. By adopting this approach enterprises can reduce deployment times significantly.

Policy-as-code can provide visibility into the policies and compliance standards a system must abide by, helping stakeholders gain an understanding of what’s going on within it without the need to reach out to engineers for answers.

Policy-as-code provides automated verification and testing, helping ensure policies are updated accurately without creating critical errors in production environments. This reduces manual processes which are susceptible to human error.

Policy-as-code offers another advantage by enabling organizations to quickly switch back to previous configurations if a change to the policy causes issues, facilitating faster deployment while helping organizations avoid costly errors that often accompany large scale infrastructure deployment projects.

1. Automation

Policy-as-code allows you to streamline policy management using various tools. With Policy-as-Code’s automated solutions for policy administration, you can implement best practices like version control, testing, CI/CD automation and streamlining repetitive tasks more quickly – saving both time and resources by streamlining repetitive processes.

Also, using policies written in code reduces human error in infrastructure configuration. With policies written down, updates can easily be made using automated auditing tools and any changes can be tested in a sandbox environment to ensure any modifications don’t break existing rules or leave holes in coverage; this way, risks are minimised while costly mistakes don’t slip through to production systems.

Policy-as-code can also be integrated with infrastructure provisioning, Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), and cloud security tools, ensuring all infrastructure complies with your organization’s policies and standards during setup.

HashiCorp Sentinel is a policy-as-code solution that integrates seamlessly with Terraform to automatically enforce policies during infrastructure setup. You can create policies for any cloud or on-prem environment and manage them using a central database; plus it enables human readable language definition that supports proven software development practices like version control, automated testing and continuous delivery/continuous deployment (CI/CD).

2. Codification

Policy-as-code allows developers to easily express policies as code, making them reusable and automatable. Furthermore, Policy-as-Code also enables teams to test, verify, and validate policies prior to deploying them into production – speeding time-to-market while decreasing human errors while improving security and compliance outcomes.

With the policy-as-code approach, it’s easier than ever before to create and deploy policies across your IT environments without risk of critical errors being introduced into production systems. Furthermore, version control systems and automated testing tools enable you to verify whether policies work as intended before merging them into your CI/CD pipeline.

Codifying policies as code provides best practices for development and configuration management, and facilitates collaboration among external and internal teams by enabling them to use their preferred tools for writing, editing, reviewing, testing and deploying policy changes.

There are various policy-as-code tools on the market, such as Puppet Enterprise, Open Policy Agent and HashiCorp Sentinel. Each one supports its own programming language and offers different capabilities – for instance Puppet can enforce policies using human readable expressions while Open Policy Agent and HashiCorp Sentinel work with cloud native tech stacks such as Kubernetes and CI/CD tools.

Use Cases of Policy-as-Code

Policy as code provides an ideal approach for overseeing infrastructure configurations related to security and compliance. By automating deployment processes through version control and streamlining deployment times for production environments, policy as code allows teams to avoid human error while cutting deployment times down significantly.

Policies written as code make validation simpler with automated tools and CI/CD systems, ensuring they meet expectations before deployment to production and easily rolling back changes if something goes wrong in production.

Policy-as-code facilitates collaboration among teams. This feature is particularly beneficial to security and ops teams, who can work together to ensure that releases meet all stakeholder needs.

Policy-as-code is generally created using a high-level language that integrates seamlessly with other tools used within an organization, such as continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), infrastructure provisioning or management tools such as Puppet or Ansible. Once written out, this high-level language is then fed into a policy engine which processes it against data. Popular examples of policy engines include Open Policy Agent and Hashicorp Sentinel.

Difference Between Policy As Code and DevSecOps

Policy as code is a policy management technique in which policies are written using high-level language in an easily understandable format, in order to enable version control and automation from provisioning through testing and deployment, ultimately leading to less human error and faster operations. The benefit of taking this approach lies in reduced human error while simultaneously speeding up operations.

Policies also give your organization the flexibility to set policies for infrastructure environments, making this invaluable if your organization uses multiple cloud or application environments. For example, in a sandbox environment you could use policies to limit how much each project can use of its allocated resources – this ensures your sandbox remains manageable and allows for controlled testing of applications in an ideal testing environment.

Policy as code allows companies to write and deploy policies for application authorization and utilization, including efficient infrastructure usage and firewall enforcement policies. This approach helps organizations take full advantage of cloud or hybrid infrastructure while strengthening security and compliance posture.

Policy-as-code complements DevSecOps by automating and streamlining the policy development process, enabling teams to rapidly develop and deploy applications without compromising security or compliance, testing policies against existing systems can also make uncovering errors easier in the CI/CD pipeline.

How to Implement Policy-as-Code?

Policy-as-code (PaaC) is an approach to writing policies using scripted languages compatible with the tools you use for deploying infrastructure and managing security posture. It enables version control and automation from provisioning through testing to deployment, as well as encouraging collaboration across teams such as developers, testing, and security departments.

Implemented alongside an authorization platform, Policy-as-code improves security, compliance and auditing by providing a framework for establishing requirements and best practices. This eliminates manual processes while simultaneously decreasing human errors through code-based automation.

Implementing policy as code begins by writing a high-level description of what must be done or not allowed, then translating that description into code by using an engine similar to an IaC system or software compilers. A policy engine automatically checks for inconsistencies and syntax errors before automatically creating implementations of your policies that you can choose between using or disregarding as needed.

Since policies are written as code, they can easily be integrated with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools and automatically tested for consistency, accuracy, and any issues – making them more reusable and helping speed up deployments. Furthermore, as needed changes or modifications may be made to policies as needed reducing time-to-market and improving agility.

Use Cases of Policy-as-Code

Policy as code (PaaC) is an IT policy design and implementation method using programming languages such as Python, YAML or Rego with an associated policy engine for enforcement. Policy as code provides greater auditability of policies as it makes them easier to audit them for consistency, coverage and security purposes.

Collaboration can be made simpler when teams use familiar tools, making working together less daunting and speeding up workflow. Furthermore, having policies written as code allows stakeholders to review and comment quickly on them – speeding up workflow!

Policy testing can also be easily conducted within a sandbox environment or integrated with CI/CD pipelines, to identify errors that would otherwise arise during production such as incorrect configuration deployment or vulnerabilities introduced into systems. Finally, policy can speed up deployment by shortening deployment cycles for applications to reach production.

1. Infrastructure Provisioning

Policy-as-Code allows you to leverage best practices, or “Rule Packs”, that meet operational criteria, and deploy them across your tools with pinpoint precision for repeatable and fine-grained control. With Policy-as-Code you can take advantage of best practices (and any “Rule Packs”) created based on them in order to provision infrastructure environments (sandbox, development, pre-production and production) or implement policies to control costs (for instance limiting spending to certain amounts for each project).

This approach also makes it easier to automate testing, compliance checks, policy approvals and errors handling in your toolchain. Furthermore, this approach facilitates greater collaboration among security, compliance and development teams as multiple stakeholders can contribute their code directly into a central repository, where changes are easily visible for review.

While Infrastructure-as-Code focuses on infrastructure provisioning, Policy-as-Code goes much further to enhance security operations, compliance management, data management and overall DevSecOps framework. To implement Policy-as-Code successfully you will require a policy engine compatible with both your infrastructure and technology (for instance HashiCorp Sentinel for Terraform or Chef InSpec for Kubernetes or GitLab CI/CD), as well as an API for loading policies.

2. Kubernetes Controls

GitLab and HashiCorp Sentinel can work in concert with policy enforcement platforms to identify vulnerabilities and verify that policies are met before deployment, helping you create a sandbox model of application behavior that prevents outside parties from exploiting any vulnerabilities in your infrastructure.

These systems use policy engines like Open Policy Agent (OPA) or Kyverno to process high-level code language that describes decision-making process. This engine takes data about software applications, environments and services before applying policies that determine whether an activity should be allowed, blocked or restricted based on policy rules.

Traditional processes rely on human interpretation of policy for interpretation; with our automated and repeatable process, risk of human error and time to detect problems is reduced significantly while also helping ensure consistent enforcement throughout development lifecycle and providing you with swift responses for unexpected infrastructure changes.

3. Auditing and Compliance

Deploying policies as code helps audit and enforce compliance more easily, while simultaneously reducing risks. Policies can be tested for accuracy prior to deployment and version control systems such as Git can track changes that were made so as to pinpoint who made changes and allow you to revert back to previous versions if needed.

Traditional policy implementation and enforcement has traditionally been a time consuming and error prone manual process, while policy-as-code solutions automate policy management by translating policies into infrastructure code that can be read and executed by a policy engine, which then evaluates it for inconsistencies or syntax errors and converts them into real time actions.

Many popular automation, configuration management and CI/CD tools offer policy as code support. For instance, Puppet Enterprise utilizes human-readable domain-specific languages (DSL) to define and enforce policies as code, making them easy to test and deploy.

4. Access and Authorization Controls

Policy-as-code allows developers to automatically test and verify applications and infrastructure against organizational policies, quickly discovering errors or noncompliance and quickly correcting them, thus speeding up software development process.

Policy-as-code empowers engineers to use a programming language such as Python to quickly develop rules and logic that are reusable across IT environments and avoid manual updates. Policy-as-code also facilitates automation across the software development lifecycle from provisioning through testing and deployment, eliminating manual work in its place.

Policy as code solutions provide IT organizations with a useful way of protecting cloud configurations and scaling infrastructure, while simultaneously increasing consistency, scalability and compliance across multiple environments while mitigating costly mistakes like cloud misconfiguration. When integrated with their respective CI/CD pipelines they also automate policy verification and testing so the right configurations always get deployed.

5. Expense Control

Policy-as-code provides an alternative to traditional policy enforcement processes, which typically rely on semiautomated or manual processes and require engineering teams to embed policies directly into applications, by enabling engineers to write policies as text files and store them with text files for storage. All stakeholders involved can then review, understand and comment upon them via code review.

As well, storing policies as code makes it easy to monitor and manage the versions of each policy, providing engineers with an efficient means of quickly rolling back if a policy becomes problematic. Doing this saves both engineers and stakeholders both time and effort in dealing with any errors that arise in new versions; in turn, this enables DevSecOps operations while decreasing errors or misconfiguration risks.


Policy as code allows security and compliance policies to be written in a high-level, human-readable language compatible with tools used for application development. Once written, they can then be fed into a policy engine which creates decisions aligned with those policies for automated and rapid enforcement. This approach provides organizations with more efficient policy enforcement solutions.

Policy as Code also empowers continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes to easily incorporate access and configuration policy workflows, making them easily implementable by developers for faster and safer application deployment across all environments. This approach provides for secure deployment processes with greater automation.

Finally, this solution enhances collaboration between engineering teams and security and compliance professionals by providing them with a centralized management platform to work in. This enables them to test and verify any changes to access and security policies before being deployed in production, thus minimizing human error.

Puppet Enterprise is an efficient, scalable, and flexible policy as code solution used by thousands of enterprises to manage infrastructure in the cloud, data center, hybrid environment and edge environments. Utilizing its human-readable Ruby DSL domain-specific language (DSL), Puppet Enterprise makes managing infrastructure consistent easier than ever – schedule a demo now to see how Puppet Enterprise can help your organization build and run it reliably and securely!

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.