The platform engineering revolution is underway, bringing efficiency and productivity benefits to developers and IT staff. It can also bring added value to the business, including the ability to turn on a dime when necessary while simultaneously keeping the operating environment as stable as possible, now and into the future.
Most organizations (53%) state that their IT teams need to spend an increasing amount of time managing technologies and infrastructure, and 42% face difficulty scaling applications and infrastructure to keep up with new technologies. (1)
This dichotomy exists with or without a platform engineering program. However, platform engineering has a significant role to play by helping maintain:
- Operability with ongoing change management
- Reliability with agreed-upon service levels
- Resilience with well-defined response plans
- Observability with easy and intelligent access to data
A platform engineering team can have focused and dedicated development and delivery policies and processes shared across the developer and IT teams and all their projects. This can help mitigate what would otherwise be distributed, unchecked activities that can lead to widespread application instability and operational failure.
Below are some areas where the platform team can contribute to adaptability and resiliency.
If the application team is blocked or constrained in its access and use of critical infrastructure components, the business can miss out on first-to-market advantages. More likely, developers will turn to shadow DevOps and shadow IT to meet the immediate needs of the business, frequently leaving future concerns for another day. This might meet the needs of being agile and adaptable but at the expense of reliability and resiliency. It can also negatively impact security and compliance. The total cost of ownership across the technology estate can also feel the pains of infrastructure disorder.
One example sits with some core technologies used to keep the business running: cloud, networking, and databases. Asking developers to be experts with AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, legacy on-premises networking, and various database technologies is an excessive burden. Adding security, privacy, compliance, backup and recovery, and other critical requirements can push them over the edge.
The platform engineering team can deliver transformational agility and efficiency through infrastructure as code (IaC) and automation without compromising adaptability and resiliency. Infrastructure automation can also help enforce security and compliance policies without disrupting developer and IT ops workflows.
A self-service approach to application development and delivery gives developers a degree of flexibility and autonomy to discover, implement, improve, and build upon otherwise complex IT systems. This helps them better align their product choices for all target audiences in every environment imaginable without overloading them with the underlying infrastructure management and operations challenges.
With a focus on a continuous integration and deployment pipeline, the platform team can build the core images and integrate them into production as new targets (systems and users) are identified. Simplifying the delivery process through centralization and automation makes it possible to deploy new features and resiliency updates many times a day and early in the development process. This ultimately brings continuous added value to application users.
As noted earlier, the infrastructure and applications are constantly changing and updating. It’s important to remember that the operations team must also adjust and adapt to those forces and those driven by cloud, web, mobile, and other external influences. As the target environments change, so must the operations, being prepared to respond to errors or malevolent intrusions.
The platform engineering team is in a solid position to support the operations team with rapid responses during even the most incapacitating events, engaging in real-time across the end-to-end flow of creation, operation, maintenance, and monitoring. This applies not only to the platform they’ve built but also to the product and the infrastructure they support.
The goal is to avoid breaking the environment and the application. The platform should be able to handle the abstractions between a highly dynamic infrastructure, applications, and the deployment automation that sits between them. This way, the operations team can focus on enabling the business to be cutting-edge while not compromising on the initial promise of agility and resilience.
1 – The State of Autonomous Operations, Dell Technologies, February 2022