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Platform Engineering

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In an era of ever-evolving digital landscapes, businesses and organizations are continually seeking ways to streamline operations, enhance collaboration, and accelerate the delivery of innovative solutions to their customers. This is where Platform Engineering emerges as a game-changer, revolutionizing the way we approach IT infrastructure and DevOps implementation.

In this blog, we will delve into the fundamental concepts of Platform Engineering and its profound implications for IT and DevOps teams. We will uncover how Platform Engineering fosters a culture of agility, efficiency, and scalability, ultimately empowering businesses to thrive in today’s fast-paced and competitive market.

So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey, immersing ourselves in the world of Platform Engineering. Discover how Platform Engineering reshapes the landscape of IT and DevOps. Let’s delve in!

What is Platform Engineering?

Platform Engineering focuses on designing, building, and maintaining robust and scalable platforms or frameworks that support the development, deployment, and management of applications and services. These platforms serve as a foundation for other applications to run on, providing a set of tools, services, and infrastructure to streamline and accelerate the software development process.

Key aspects of Platform Engineering include:

  • Infrastructure Management: Platform Engineers are responsible for setting up and managing the underlying infrastructure, which may include cloud computing resources, virtual machines, containers, networking, and storage. They ensure that the infrastructure is reliable, scalable, and optimized for performance.
  • Platform Services: Platform Engineers design services and APIs that developers can use to build applications efficiently. These services may include authentication, logging, monitoring, caching, database access, and other common functionalities that applications typically require.
  • Automation and DevOps: Automation plays a crucial role in Platform Engineering. Engineers create tools and workflows that automate tasks like deployment, testing, and monitoring. This helps reduce human intervention and ensures consistent and error-free processes. This aligns closely with the principles of DevOps implementation, where development and operations teams collaborate closely to achieve faster and more reliable software delivery. It helps in implementing Infrastructure & Software Delivery Automation Solutions.
  • Security and Compliance: Platform Engineers must prioritize security and compliance requirements to protect the applications running on their platforms. They implement security measures, access controls, and encryption to safeguard sensitive data and prevent potential vulnerabilities.
  • Scalability and Performance: Platforms need to be designed with scalability in mind. They should be able to handle increasing workloads and user traffic without compromising performance. Platform Engineers employ techniques such as load balancing, horizontal scaling, and performance optimization to achieve this.

Cloud Platform Engineering is essential for organizations seeking to accelerate their development cycles and promote consistency across applications. It enables development teams to focus on building features and functionality unique to their applications while relying on a standardized and reliable platform for the underlying infrastructure and services.

What Problems Does Platform Engineering Solve?

Platform engineering directly addresses the overall developer experience. Developers are becoming increasingly frustrated. According to a recent survey, DevOps teams spend more than 15 hours per week on activities other than coding on average. These activities include internal tool maintenance, development environment setup, and pipeline debugging. The cost of this is astronomical, with businesses in the United States alone losing up to $61 billion annually, according to Garden.io.

The complexity of managing today’s cloud-native applications drains DevOps teams. Building and operating modern applications requires significant amounts of infrastructure and an entire portfolio of diverse tools. When individual developers or teams choose to use different tools and processes to work on an application, this tooling inconsistency and incompatibility can cause delays and errors. To overcome this, platform engineering teams provide a standardized set of tools and infrastructure that all project developers can use to build and deploy the app more easily.

Additionally, scaling applications is difficult and time-consuming, especially when traffic and usage patterns change over time. Platform engineering teams address this with their golden paths, which are environments designed to scale quickly and easily, and logical application configuration.

Platform engineering also helps with reliability. Development teams that use a set of shared tools and infrastructure tested for interoperability and designed for reliability and availability make more reliable software.

It also allows developers to access the tools they need themselves. Instead of using an IT ticketing system or having a conversation about creating a new database, a developer can simply spin it up in a user interface and know the configuration of any alerts, replications, and operating parameters.

Finally, platform engineering addresses the high cost of building applications the traditional way, in which the development team purchases a broad range of tools and environments, frequently with overlapping functionality. Through standardization and automation, platform engineering minimizes these costs.

How Platform Engineering Bridges the IT and DevOps Gap

Platform Engineering plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between IT and DevOps by fostering collaboration, standardization, and automation across the software development lifecycle. Here’s how Platform Engineering achieves this:

  • Standardization of Infrastructure and Services: Platform Engineering establishes a standardized set of infrastructure components and services that can be used by both IT operations teams and development teams. This common foundation eliminates discrepancies and ensures that everyone is working with the same underlying technology stack. It also helps in implementing Infrastructure & Software Delivery Automation Solutions.
  • Automated Provisioning and Deployment: Platform Engineers automate the provisioning and deployment processes. This enables developers to request and access the necessary resources and environments without relying on manual intervention from IT operations. This self-service approach accelerates development cycles and reduces the time required to set up and configure new environments.
  • Collaborative Design and Governance: Platform Engineering involves collaboration between IT operations and development teams in designing the platform. This fosters a shared understanding of requirements, constraints, and best practices. Additionally, the platform governance ensures that the platform meets the needs of both teams while adhering to security, compliance, and performance standards.
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): Platform Engineering enables the seamless setup of CI/CD pipelines that automate the build, test, and deployment processes. Developers can seamlessly push code changes into production-like environments, while IT operations can focus on managing the underlying infrastructure. This streamlined approach eliminates friction and ensures a smooth handoff between development and IT operations.
  • Monitoring and Observability: Platform Engineers implement monitoring and observability tools that provide insights into the performance and health of applications and infrastructure. Both IT operations and development teams can access these metrics and collaborate on resolving issues, leading to faster incident response and improved application reliability.
  • Shared Responsibility and Empowerment: Platform Engineering encourages a culture of shared responsibility, where both IT operations and development teams take ownership of their respective areas while collaborating on shared goals. This empowerment promotes trust and facilitates a collective effort to deliver high-quality software.
  • Continuous Improvement: By continuously gathering feedback from both IT operations and development teams, Platform Engineers can make iterative improvements to the platform. Regularly incorporating new technologies, optimizing processes, and addressing pain points ensures that the platform remains relevant and valuable to all stakeholders.

Platform Engineering acts as a bridge between IT operations and DevOps by creating a standardized, automated, and collaborative environment. This shared platform empowers both teams to work together efficiently, breaking down silos and aligning their efforts to deliver software faster, more reliably, and with higher quality.

Platform Engineering often involves implementing containerization technologies like Docker and container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes. Containers provide consistency across development and production environments, while orchestration tools allow for automated scaling, self-healing, and easy management of containerized applications. Opting for a reputed Kubernetes management solutions provider helps enterprises in hassle-free and secure Kubernetes management.

What Are the Differences Between DevOps, SRE and Platform Engineering

Organizations venturing into the cloud native world must do things differently to get transformative results; cloud native problems require cloud native solutions.

The first step is usually to adopt a DevOps culture if they don’t already have one. But DevOps needs support to make the transition and operate in cloud native environments. SRE and platform engineering teams provide such support.

It might be possible to get by with just two — or even one of these teams — but an organization aiming to modernize some or all of their workloads to cloud native should consider establishing all three teams.

  • DevOps: Responsible for the complete life cycle of the apps, from source to production, and modifies/enhances apps post-production.
  • SRE: Primarily focused on application scalability, reliability, availability, and observability. This team typically acts in crisis management mode when the performance or availability of an app is at risk.
  • Platform engineering: The definition is still evolving, but platform engineering’s role of setting standard tools and processes to speed development is acknowledged as an extraordinarily helpful bridge for DevOps to make the transition from monolithic to microservices-based cloud native computing.

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Each team has specific roles and objectives, yet all three work together best to ensure the business can deliver cloud native applications and environments according to industry best practices.

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Reference

  • https://www.puppet.com/resources/state-of-platform-engineering
  • https://medium.com/opstree-technology/platform-engineerings-impact-on-it-and-devops-45b96290b406
  • https://dbaplus.cn/news-152-5546-1.html
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