Digital platforms are all around us. Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, AirBnB, and Upwork are more than just websites. They create a place where vendors, customers, and agencies come to buy or sell services. Consumers don’t connect with the platform owners. The platform is self-service, available on demand, and formed around the needs of most clients.
Platforms are now essential for the way we connect with others. When discussing “platform engineering,” we examine a more specific type of work.
Digital adoption is essential for companies to succeed in the digital economy. Platform engineering is using existing software, hardware, and services to create new solutions that add value to the user.
Platform engineers create platforms for software developers. Like Twitter users share different opinions, software developers must share different skills. Every person working on a software project has additional input to the project. A platform engineer’s job is to make it easy to talk for these people to communicate.
For developers, platforms are a kind of digital glue. They stick a team together, creating accessible and efficient communications. They are an essential step in ongoing digital adaption.
In this article, we will introduce the essential trend of platform engineering. To kick off our discussion, we’ll discuss how it was created and explain its many advantages for development teams. Then, you’ll receive a brief overview of some important processes in platform engineering that can help streamline your workflows.
What Is Platform Engineering?
The challenges for agile software development teams are not new. Developing great software has always required collaboration. But it is tough to share their progress when each specialist developer works with different tools. Platform engineering solves this old problem for our cloud-native era.
Platform engineers work closely with all stakeholders to create a platform optimized for performance, security, and reliability. They design, build and maintain an internal Developer Platforms (or IDP) infrastructure. The IDP is a digital product that links many other services.
Platform engineering is becoming an important trend in software development. To understand why we must know why it is superior to older solutions.
Why Is Platform Engineering Important?
In the old days of software development, software engineers were constantly waiting for contributions from other teams. Platform engineering makes a major cultural shift away from this inefficient system. It helps different teams to offer self-service solutions to one another in real time.
In an older software development model, exchanges between teams were very inefficient. Application developers created code, but before seeing it work, they had to send the product to a builder, tester, sysadmin, operations managers, and more. In one popular phrase, developers had to “throw it over the wall” before moving forward. It took a lot of work just to develop a workable product.
Agile Software Development was designed to make this process faster. Individual agile teams had many of the skills necessary for workable solutions. But in practice, infrastructure services were still handled by other teams.
A platform engineering team develops platforms to help every team share their work. An Internal Developer Platform means that every team can operate independently while constantly sharing their work with others.
What are the benefits of using Platform Engineers?
Platform engineering gives a new solution for old problems. This innovation brings many benefits. In particular:
- All developers have a much better working experience. Working with others is low-friction: it is easy to complete the routine tasks that used to be so difficult.
- Easy to bring new engineers into a development team. Every software team works differently, with distinct steps to reach a working product. When a dedicated platform supports those steps, new employees can do their job more effectively and quickly.
- Developers are free to work autonomously. Platform engineering gives everyone the freedom to work through their own problems. With a platform connecting self-service features, developers can plug into different operations for a working solution.
- Easy to address common issues. A good platform engineering team will listen to feedback and ensure the internal developer platform can adjust to their problems.
These features mean that software development teams can work much more efficiently.
Principles of Platform Engineering
As Gartner defines it, platforms are a kind of “middleware.” It stands in between different products. However, they must still adapt to a set of best practices.
Every platform needs a purpose
Platforms are not an off-the-shelf service. The particular needs of an organization must drive them. That’s why each business needs a dedicated platform engineer who can respond better to the specific needs of the development tasks.
The platform is a product
The platform engineering team is not a service desk. Their purpose is not to answer every single query from day to day. Instead, they must listen to input and feedback and create a solution that customers can use on a self-service basis. The platform should be usable, reliable, trustworthy, and adaptable.
No need to repeat work
Yes, platform engineering teams help to solve specific problems within software engineering organizations. However, they do not need to start with every problem from scratch. Consider leading examples like AWS, GCP, Azure, and the IBM Cloud platform. These services mean developers don’t consider the infrastructure underlying the development environment.
When Is The Right Time To Introduce a Platform Engineering Team?
The smallest development teams do not need a dedicated platform team. The right time to create the team depends on several factors, including the organization’s size, the complexity of its systems, and the frequency of software releases.
As an organization grows, managing and maintaining software systems become increasingly difficult. When many different units try to collaborate on a project, the time will be right to hire a platform engineer to create and maintain the IDP.
If the software systems have become highly complex, a platform engineer can ensure that the software systems are scalable, maintainable, and reliable.
Finally, if the organization releases software updates frequently, a Platform Engineering team can help manage the release process and ensure that the updates are delivered reliably and efficiently.
Platform Engineering Makes Everything Easier
Overall, we can see that platform engineering has a very valuable purpose. This field has a very positive future. As a 2020 Deloitte report explained, “When designed correctly, platforms can become powerful catalysts for rich ecosystems of resources and participants.” Companies that invest in platforms will quickly find positive results.
Unsurprisingly, major companies like Tesla and Google implement development platforms as part of their digital transformation roadmaps. Platform engineering offers many benefits to software development teams, including better working experiences, easy onboarding of new employees, autonomous working, and easy solutions to common issues.