Platform Engineering & What It Does?

Platform engineering is an upcoming technology approach that can speed the delivery of your application and consequently its ability to produce business value.

How platform engineering bridges the gap with developers by providing self-service capabilities and automated infrastructure operations. It has gained popularity recently because of its ability to optimize the developers’ experience and accelerate the product team to deliver business value to its customers.

“Platform engineering emerged in response to the increasing complexity of modern software architectures. Today, non-expert end users are often asked to operate an assembly of complicated arcane services,” says Paul Delory, VP Analyst at Gartner. “To help end users, and reduce friction for the valuable work they do, forward-thinking companies have begun to build operating platforms that sit between the end user and the backing services on which they rely.”

Software engineers have been building applications/ web platforms for years

  • On-premises- Ticket is driven, bare metal, long lead time
  • First-gen PaaS- self-service, VM based, one size fits, on demand
  • Next-gen PaaS/ Custom Platform: self-service, container-based, fast feedback, good UI/UX

The recent rise of operations-savvy developers and tools that enable them to increase their productivity by 2x has led to the boom in the creation of custom platforms.

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What draws a person to this custom platform is that the theory of one size fits all doesn’t hold true here. You can build your abstraction to deliver precisely the kind of setup your organization requires.

Many tech giants like Netflix and Google have increasingly used platform engineering to accelerate their performance. This may make it sound like it’s a niche category only limited to a select few individual tech giants or unicorns. This however is not true. Many developers have claimed and stated it perfectly when they say we should be building tooling and platforms for “99% of the developer”

These developers are getting work done outside of the hip companies and frameworks, which often get neglected in conversations about “what developers want.” There’s a massive gap between what “developer-influencers” are talking about and the daily reality of most developers. When you look at what gets covered by the tech media, or the speakers at top tech conferences, it’s often people from high-growth individuals like Airbnb or Stripe, or established, highly profitable companies like the FAANGs.

How Platform Engineering Works

The capabilities of platform engineering depend entirely on its end user. A platform is a tool that is used by data scientists, developers, or end users. All of these variations on the kind of user and targeting they have for a specific platform. A team of experts designs a platform suited to their specific usage to make the delivery of their application faster. They need to understand how this platform would take care of the needs of its target user, prioritize their work and deliver faster and more efficient results.

The goal is a frictionless, self-service developer experience that offers the right capabilities to enable developers and others to produce valuable software with as little overhead as possible. The platform should increase developer productivity, along with reducing the cognitive load. The platform should include everything development teams need and present it in whatever manner fits best with the team’s preferred workflow.

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How Platform Engineering is Useful to a Company

There are huge transformations that a company requires when it considers building a platform engineering team. On one hand, the company has to detract its resource and allocate it to increase the productivity of its developer which many companies don’t have the foresight to acknowledge its immediate gain. These platforms help in boosting the productivity of the organization and help deliver value to the company when the thought of the long-term goal. The following is why companies need platform engineering 

  • Platform Engineering Team are developer enablers as they create and maintain a set of tools and workflows to allow engineers to ship code to production in an efficient and reliable manner
  • They ensure fast delivery of software to production
  • Provides for automated infrastructure operations
  • Centralizes standards, documentation, and infrastructure in one place without making it into a rigid process
  • Allows developers to create cloud infrastructure you whitelist and takes care that it stays that way
  • For a larger organization or platform engineer creates roles-based access control (RBAC) for users with different levels of permissions
  • Reduces cognitive load for the developers