Platform engineering plays a significant role in advancing business operations and expediting outcomes, allowing developers to ship code faster by owning the creation and operation of the underlying automation processes and technologies. Gartner expects that by 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams as providers of reusable services, components, and tools for application delivery. (1)
Platform engineering can bring consistency throughout the organization, abstracting the underlying complexities of the operating software and infrastructure layers, essentially taking care of all the activities required to manage infrastructure operations, service orchestration, technology integration, application delivery, deployment automation, configuration, maintainability, updates, improvements, and monitoring of the platform across all of these elements.
With a platform engineering program in place, one that consolidates support for engineers, operations teams, and business leaders, there are many efficiencies to be gained in development, deployment, management, and maintenance.
While the starting point of platform engineering sits with the initial business plan, requirements, and design, the platform engineering model really begins demonstrating its value in the development phase.
A platform engineering team is tasked with enabling application developers to create products and generate value with as little friction and overhead as possible, utilizing the specific skills necessary to deliver on the platform’s requirements. Their role is to create reusable tools and capabilities in the areas they are most experienced so the app developers can benefit from their work. This eliminates the need for the entire development team to know everything about every technology used throughout the whole infrastructure. The result is a collection of bespoke and curated tools, capabilities, and processes packaged by the platform engineering team for the developers to use.
Dev teams get self-service access to application services and features regardless of technical skill. This removes flow disruptions in software development as they don’t need to worry about how or where—perhaps even if—the apps will run. Easy selection and integration by the development teams across the organization can speed up time-to-release.
With the infrastructure and services developed by the platform team, developers can focus on creating products that delight the users as they no longer have to worry about which underlying and supporting technologies are needed to meet their application’s deployment and operational needs. This can equate to time savings in engineering processes and reductions in time-to-market.
A well-orchestrated environment with standardized configurations can reduce friction and accelerate the delivery of the application into the target operating environments. Using best practices can help consolidate and simplify deployments with accuracy and consistency. These platform engineering features can streamline app delivery for the fastest path for the developers to achieve the target business value.
This standard platform model eliminates the challenges associated with automation and tooling needed for various infrastructure implementations and complex application deployments.
When automation is enabled for delivery, the products reach their destination with clear rules for how to operate for different users within different environments. One key benefit here is the automated handling of errors and exceptions so the delivery and operations teams can continue with fewer issues, delays, and the need for additional intervention from the developers. This means the developers aren’t forced to abandon their primary objective of innovating new features or products.
When a human must get involved to complete the delivery, the platform team tackles the challenge as the main point of contact, finding the best solution to address the immediate need while also managing the resolution to ensure long-term platform resiliency and sustainability.
The platform should be created and maintained to support the needs of developers and operations teams by providing shared, reusable tools that interface to an otherwise complex infrastructure. Essentially, look for ways to keep the infrastructure, processes, and automation standardized and repeatable such that it can be easily maintained by the platform team and used by anyone interested in delivering apps.
Well-defined processes and workflows, especially with intelligent platform-level automation, make it easier for the business to keep its environment running smoothly, the apps functioning at peak performance, and the data available in real-time to ensure the best business decisions be made at all times.
Consistency in the platform shared across the organization reduces the need to hire and staff to cover an otherwise unmanageable number of technologies for each engineering and operations team.
By eliminating monolithic applications consuming services from various open source and commercial providers and data from a single data source, the application will become easier to maintain. Platform abstractions at this part of the process can also improve operational resiliency and system performance.
With a core set of technologies and capabilities being used collectively by developers and operations, it’s also easier for teams to stay on top of ongoing configuration changes and patches with limited impact on product operations and software performance. This happens when the platform team brings core business capabilities together that can be shared amongst all players across all programs and projects.
With this also comes easing in the efforts to keep security and compliance in check, as the sources for these elements can be maintained centrally by the platform team across all operating environments and applications. This reduces the developers’ workload and makes it easier for security and compliance teams for assessment and auditing purposes.
By creating a standardized platform engineering model and cohesive strategy from the platform’s inception, the business can determine how the platform should operate from the very beginning. This ensures that critical requirements are met at every turn—development, deployment, management, and maintenance—even on to the end-of-life stage when it comes time to retire components, services, and applications.
1 – What Is Platform Engineering, Gartner, October 2022