A TYPICAL TECHNOLOGY PROJECT
Technology projects often face a range of challenges that can slow down development and hinder progress. One common issue is the need for software engineers to perform manual procedures to get their code into production, such as setting up repositories, managing infrastructure, and creating CI/CD pipelines.
Unfortunately, many of these processes are ad-hoc and lack prior planning, as teams often want to jump into development as quickly as possible. Moreover, there is often little standardization, resulting in inconsistent setups across different projects and cloud infrastructures, making it difficult to reuse configurations.
These manual procedures are also error-prone, leading to delays in the path to production. Additionally, they are often not properly documented, which can cause a significant knowledge gap when key employees leave the organization.
To overcome these challenges, platform engineering can be leveraged to remove obstacles that slow down developers and improve the efficiency of software development.
WHY PLATFORM ENGINEERING?
Platform engineering offers a powerful solution to the challenges faced by technology projects. By providing a layer of abstraction through an Internal Developer Platform (IDP), platform engineering simplifies the process of deploying and operating software in production while leveraging the different cloud services used by an organization.
The platform engineering team is responsible for planning, designing, and managing the cloud infrastructure and developing the IDP. This enables engineers and developers to focus on delivering value to production quickly and reliably by simply using the exposed APIs.
To use an analogy, platform engineering is like using ready-to-cook food instead of cooking from scratch. It frees up time for more important activities, such as spending time with family or recuperating from a night out. However, the benefits of platform engineering go beyond mere convenience. The IDP is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of an organization and its circumstances, providing a reliable and efficient solution for deploying and operating software in production.
WHAT IS PLATFORM ENGINEERING?
According to platformengineering.org, “Platform engineering is the discipline of designing and building toolchains and workflows that enable self-service capabilities for software engineering organizations in the cloud-native era.”
DEVOPS VS PLATFORM ENGINEERING
DevOps and Platform Engineering are two distinct disciplines with their own unique characteristics.
Here are some key differences between the two:
DevOps is typically ad-hoc and request-based, meaning that tasks are carried out as-needed depending on the current stage of the project. Platform Engineering, on the other hand, is typically more planned, standardized, and continuously improved based on the specific needs of the organization.
DevOps is also characterized by a high degree of manual intervention, but there is also significant potential for automation. In contrast, Platform Engineering provides an Internal Developer Platform that offers API access to automate many infrastructure setup and configuration tasks.
Finally, DevOps often requires human interaction, which can result in delays if the DevOps team is unavailable. In contrast, the Internal Developer Platform is a self-service platform, which means that developers can carry out tasks themselves without needing to rely on other teams.
KEY BENEFITS OF PLATFORM ENGINEERING
Platform engineering offers several key benefits, including:
Self-service Internal Developer Platforms: One of the biggest advantages of platform engineering is that it provides developers with self-service Internal Developer Platforms. This means that developers can carry out tasks on their own without needing to rely on other teams, resulting in faster and more efficient workflows.
Standardized and Automated Processes: Platform engineering also involves standardized and automated processes, which reduces the chances of errors and ensures consistency in the development process. This helps to improve the quality of the final product and reduce the time it takes to deliver it to clients.
Increased Developer Focus: By separating the responsibilities of managing infrastructure from the development team, platform engineering allows developers to focus more on what they do best – building great products for their clients. This results in higher productivity and faster time-to-market.
RISKS OF PLATFORM ENGINEERING
While platform engineering offers many benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved. Here are some key risks to consider:
Help Desk Mentality: The platform team should not be seen as just another help desk that simply spins up environments on demand. Instead, it should be viewed as a dedicated product team serving internal customers, with clear goals and objectives.
Lack of Clear Plan: Without a clear plan, platform engineering initiatives may fail to achieve their goals. There should be well-defined goals for the platform engineering team, along with a clear plan to achieve them, just like any other product that is to be delivered to external clients.
Reinventing the Wheel: It’s easy for platform engineering teams to get caught up in building in-house solutions rather than using off-the-shelf options that can be tailored to their specific needs. This can result in wasted time and effort and may not always provide the best solution for the organization.
In summary, platform engineering offers several benefits that can significantly improve the speed and quality of development, including self-service platforms, standardized and automated processes, and increased developer focus on building great products. However, if the risks are not proactively addressed, there is a risk of increased costs and loss of productivity. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider these risks and take steps to mitigate them when implementing platform engineering initiatives.