6 Signs You Need Platform Engineering

By Heba Eid
July 25, 2023

Platform engineering has emerged as a trend in 2023. In this blog, we recap a recent webinar, where Weaveworks experts delve into platform engineering and how it’s different from an internal developer platform/portal. We also explore the benefits and share 6 tell-tale signs your company needs a platform engineering approach.

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Earlier this month, we hosted an insightful webinar titled "Six Signs You Need Platform Engineering," which delved into one of the hottest topics in cloud-native and DevOps circles in 2023. Joe Dahlquist, VP of Product Marketing Management, and Mohamed Ahmed, VP of Developer Platforms at Weaveworks led the webinar.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of developer enablement and experience, self-service, security and governance, platform engineering, and Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) have emerged as powerful tools to elevate development velocity, increase deployment frequency, and enhance reliability and security. Though not entirely new concepts, they have become the focal point of the industry's attention, known as the "Year of Platform Engineering."

Platform Engineering vs. IDP

In the realm of platform engineering, terms like IDP (Internal Developer Platform) and/or Internal Developer Portal are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion and complexity in the discussions. The industry has become a hotbed of buzzwords, and companies are incorporating SEO-rich keywords related to these terms in their materials. However, it's important to understand that these terms represent different concepts and tools, and they shouldn't be treated as mere buzzwords or just new ideas.

Joe started by explaining what platform engineering is and what IDP refers to. Let’s jump right in.

What is Platform Engineering?

Platform engineering can be seen as the evolved state of DevOps, addressing the next layer of challenges an organization faces after achieving DevOps maturity. It cannot be sold as a pre-packaged solution off the shelf. Instead, it offers a methodology to standardize tools and technologies used by developers and DevOps engineers.

The benefits of platform engineering include abstracting away complexity and manual steps, reducing friction between development and operations teams, and decreasing developer dependency on Ops teams. This scalability allows app development teams to grow without a one-to-one relationship with operations teams, ensuring smoother support for daily software and feature releases. Moreover, platform engineering can significantly increase developer velocity while improving the reliability of applications and infrastructure, often yielding greater reliability in the cloud-native environment.

We’ve recently published a blog around platform engineering and its basics which delves more into this topic.

The GitOps Guide to Building & Managing Internal Platforms

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What is an internal developer platform (IDP)?

An internal developer platform (IDP) serves as a tool for platform engineering and is usually constructed by platform teams, representing the progressive stage of DevOps or the engineering aspect within a DevOps organization.

These platforms are designed to establish and uphold essential guidelines, such as golden paths and governance, ensuring that developers can carry out specific tasks independently, like configuring a cluster per the organization's standards. However, they also enforce boundaries to prevent actions that deviate from established standards.

What is an internal developer portal?

The other IDP—the internal developer portal—functions like a portfolio within an Internal Developer Platform. Developed by platform teams, it serves as a graphical interface for developers to interact with the platform engineering solution. This portal plays a crucial role in simplifying the complexities of tools and processes, offering streamlined experiences such as one-click infrastructure setup.

Furthermore, the Internal Developer Portal provides essential visibility into various aspects, including application status, pipeline information, versioning details, and error notifications—critical information developers need. Think of it as a well-proportioned window providing developers with the right level of insight into the platform. These three elements of platform engineering can sometimes be mistaken or misunderstood, leading to confusion among stakeholders.

Benefits of Internal Developer Platform

Joe then hands it over to Mo to discuss the benefits of internal developer platforms for both application developers and platform engineers. These personas are usually engaged in either building the platform or using it for application development.

For application developers, having an internal developer platform results in increased productivity, standardization which consequently improves collaboration, better testing and deployment, and enhanced security.

Platform engineers, on the other hand, see reduced toil, efficient resource management, improved compliance and governance, by using internal developer platforms. It also makes it much easier for platform engineers to scale their operations.

Next, Mohamed jumps right into the topic at hand: the six signs that companies need platform engineering. Watch the entire webinar in its entirety to learn more about the benefits of platform engineering.

Key moments in the webinar:

  • [Min: 0.00] Intros
  • [Min: 2.55] IDP vs. IDP vs. Platform Engineering
  • [Min: 3:30] What is Platform Engineering
  • [Min: 5:00] Internal Developer Platform
  • [Min: 6:08] Internal Developer Portal
  • [Min: 8:45] What's in it for Application Developer

  • [Min: 11:30] What's in it for Platform Engineers
  • [Min: 19:22] Six Signs You Need an IDP
  • [Min: 36:26] Platform Engineering Strategy

  • [Min: 43:45] Q&As

Watch the replay here:

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