In an age where we can achieve almost anything on our smart devices, it is no surprise that the complexity of developing and delivering software has grown in the last decade. Therefore, technology approaches like Platform Engineering are essential to aid in the process of overcoming the challenges organizations face when creating software products.
What is Platform Engineering, the Internal Developer Platform, and why should CIOs and CTOs invest in these approaches?
What is Platform Engineering?
As we also mentioned in our Platform Engineering 101 guide, according to Gartner’s definition,
Platform Engineering is the discipline of building and operating self-service Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) for software delivery and life cycle management.
Adequately termed developer enablers, platform engineers create and maintain tools like the "Internal Developer Platform" that allow engineers to ship code to production efficiently.
Platform Engineering is significant in many of today's organizations, as software engineers must navigate error‑prone procedures to get their code into production. These procedures include manually creating and configuring repositories, managing infrastructures, creating and managing CI/CD pipelines, etc., all of which can become very taxing as an organization grows.
Organizations can leverage Platform Engineering to plan, design, and manage their cloud platforms to mitigate problems that might arise during these procedures.
What is an Internal Developer Platform?
Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) are platforms created by the Platform Team in an organization to aid Operations Team enabling Developer self‑service.
IDPs allow teams to be autonomous, giving them self‑service access to the tools (or allowing them to create them from scratch) they need to initiate, manage, and monitor development processes.
This extra layer between the developers and operations team simplifies the interaction with the infrastructure, allowing organizations to industrialize and govern cloud‑native development and operations. An IDP helps to create and ship features efficiently without sacrificing system quality or security, and at the same time, it improves the Developer Experience.
A good IDP reliably manages application configurations, orchestrates infrastructures dynamically and intelligently, creates new and fully provisioned environments when needed, provides a pipeline for continuous delivery or deployment, and, more importantly, provides projects with privacy. To handle these tasks effectively, the IDP delegate these tasks to different core components.
With an IDP, it is possible to explicitly define what type of infrastructures we should deploy and what applications are supported. Adhering to the criteria defined in the IDP, developers can focus on developing software as the IDP manages deployment, auditing, monitoring, etc. Mia‑Platform Console is a perfect example of an Internal Developer Platform.
Main responsibilities of an Internal Developer Platform
Alongside the management of deployment, the IDP is tasked with the following responsibilities:
- Designing and exposing APIs;
- Developing and orchestrating microservices;
- Managing real-time data streams and event-driven architectures;
- Governing and monitoring runtime on Kubernetes.
Advantages of an Internal Developer Platform
This section discusses the advantages of incorporating an IDP in your organization.
By defining the infrastructures and deployed applications supported by an IDP, you understand what to put in the system and, more importantly, what you are getting.
- Compliance and governance
With an IDP, you can define a build process step that allows you to run analysis on the code. This analysis will enable you to avoid anti‑patterns and check whether the application has the quality to get built.
IDP provides developers with the tools required to finish their tasks without contacting the operations team.
By simplifying interaction with the infrastructure, the IDP enables developers to ship modular software without worrying about the orchestration and complexities of a microservice architecture.
Modules can be easily reused in other products, speeding up the creation of new applications. Along with the IDP, we can set up a Service Catalog to facilitate the discovery of existing components.
Why should Platform Engineering matter to CTOs?
It is without a doubt that DevOps has been an essential stride in the management of software development. However, software management methods like DevOps pose some challenges to developers, requiring them to take on more loads and tasks and learn many more tools. For this and other reasons, people are starting to wonder whether DevOps and SRE are coming to an end.
Although the "you build it, you run it" phenomenon works well in big organizations, smaller organizations may struggle to implement true DevOps, as they lack the same resources to invest in talent and optimize developer workflows.
Another drawback of DevOps is giving developers, especially senior developers, the responsibility to manage environments and deployments, whereas their input is more valuable in coding and product development. Developers spending more time handling environments and deployments indicate misuse of one of the most valuable resources an organization can possess. It also means that it will take longer to create and ship software, a problem that Platform Engineering mitigates. This lack of resources to implement true DevOps can manifest in anti‑patterns, a common and usually ineffective response to a recurring problem.
This post discusses what Platform Engineering and Internal Developer Platforms are and why organizations should consider implementing them in their operations.
This article was written by Michel Murabito, Developer Advocate at Mia‑Platform.
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