Platform engineering was one of the major topics discussed in KubeCon Europe 2023. Why, you may ask? Because more and more teams globally are discussing reducing the cognitive load of developers and enhancing the developer experience (DevEx). Platform engineering provides just the remedy by allowing teams to provide quicker delivery of software to production.
What is platform engineering?
Platform engineering is an emerging concept that aims to fast-track software development and delivery processes. It revolves around the creation and management of a dedicated platform for software engineers and other team members, one that contains the required tools, interfaces, and necessary capabilities to carry out their tasks.
What kind of tasks come under platform engineering?
Platform engineering teams establish tools and processes that help developers be more productive. They engineer the “platform” which developers build against. Some of the tasks that platform engineering involves are:
- Provisioning infrastructure such as staging environments, CI pipelines and automated testing systems for developers to use.
- Creating internal APIs and processes to track the status of changes and automate deployments.
- Liaising with the operations team to ensure development infrastructure accurately matches production.
- Implementing security, reliability and compliance safeguards that identify problem code before it gets merged.
- Providing self-service controls around the above, so developers can create staging environments, run tests and perform security audits on-demand, without waiting on other teams.
This work produces a platform that lessens the workload for developers. The difficult peripheral parts of software delivery are shifted onto the managed platform, allowing engineers to focus on building new features.
Why must software development teams know about platform engineering?
As software projects grow in complexity and scale, developers have to deal with more technologies, tools and services, which can overwhelm them and ultimately, slow them down. Platform engineering allows them to focus on building new features and delivering value to customers without worrying about the peripheral things.
Platform engineering is the process of designing and implementing toolchains that improve the software delivery experience. It involves setting up automated infrastructure and self-service controls that allow developers to work more efficiently. It is an evolution of DevOps that helps you achieve good DevOps performance at scale.
What are the benefits of platform engineering?
Platform engineering gives organizations a unified system to manage, standardize and scale typical DevOps processes and workflows. By vetting and curating a catalog of resources, platform teams create simplified paths that accelerate development while also giving developers the autonomy to use their own preferred tools when necessary. Some of the benefits of platform engineering are:
- Faster time-to-market: Developers can deploy code faster and more frequently, using automated pipelines and self-service controls.
- Higher quality: Developers can test code more thoroughly and catch bugs earlier, using realistic environments and security checks.
- Lower costs: Developers can optimize resource usage and avoid waste, using standardized infrastructure and dynamic scalability.
- Greater innovation: Developers can experiment with new ideas and technologies, using flexible platforms and modular architectures.
Platform engineering vs. DevOps
First things first, will platform engineering replace DevOps? Not likely. Platform engineering tackles common problems organizations experience as they grow. It helps you to get the benefits of DevOps at scale. An internal developer platform (IDP) helps stream-aligned teams focus on delivering valuable features alongside running their software in production.
DevOps is an open-ended concept that different organizations will implement in different ways. Platform engineering is a more concrete technique that provides a clear framework for building and maintaining a platform that supports DevOps practices.
How to get started with platform engineering?
If you want to adopt platform engineering in your organization, here are some steps you can take:
- Assess your current DevOps maturity and identify the pain points and gaps in your software delivery process.
- Define your platform vision and goals, such as what kind of tools and services you want to offer to your developers, what level of automation and standardization you want to achieve, and what metrics you want to track.
- Build or buy your platform components, such as cloud infrastructure, CI/CD tools, testing frameworks, monitoring systems, etc. You can use existing solutions or create your own custom ones.
- Integrate your platform components into a cohesive system that provides a consistent interface for your developers. You can use APIs, orchestration tools, configuration management tools, etc.
- Promote your platform adoption among your developers by providing documentation, training, support and feedback channels. You can also incentivize your developers by showcasing the benefits of using the platform.
Platform engineering is next-level DevOps. It helps you scale your software delivery process and improve your developer experience by creating a platform that automates infrastructure provisioning, deployment management, testing validation and security enforcement. With it, you can enable your developers to work faster, better and happier.
If you need help with adopting your software systems to the latest and best technologies like platform engineering and DevOps, feel free to reach out to us. We offer the best-in-industry DevOps Consulting Services.