Keeping up with all the tech words in software can be challenging. There are so many new terms that it’s hard to keep track! But don’t worry; we’re here to help. We’ll explain one of those terms today: platform engineering.
In the last 20 years, the software world has changed a lot. Companies are using machines more to get things done quickly and keep the quality high. At the same time, the old lines separating different software jobs aren’t as clear as they used to be.
Platform engineering is the latest milestone in this ongoing transformation. It’s a relatively new role that has left many people with questions. What exactly is platform engineering? Why is it essential? Is it the same as site reliability engineering?
In this post, we’ll provide answers to these queries and more.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Platform Engineering? (Definition)
Platform engineering is like ensuring a company’s cloud system runs smoothly so its tech experts can quickly and reliably create valuable stuff. Think of it as a team planning, designing, and handling the company’s cloud setup. This setup is essential for software experts and IT folks to implement their creations securely and efficiently.
Software experts sometimes have to do many manual tasks to get their work out there. They must set up storage spaces, manage tech stuff, and create pipelines to move their work from testing to the real deal. Doing all this manually can lead to mistakes and slow things down.
Plus, often, these steps aren’t written down anywhere, so only a few people know how to do them. That can be a problem as the company grows.
Platform engineering fixes all that. It streamlines these tasks, making things faster and less error-prone. It also ensures that everyone in the company knows how to do these things so work flows smoothly and efficiently.
Why Is Platform Engineering Important?
In today’s tech world, companies are realizing the incredible advantages of cloud computing. But with great power comes great challenges. They must tackle these challenges head-on to make the most of cloud technology. That’s where platform engineering steps in.
So, why exactly does Platform engineering matter?
1. Simplifying the Developer’s Life
Imagine being a software developer working on a new project. You have brilliant ideas and innovative solutions to implement. However, the last thing you want is to spend hours or even days grappling with complex setups and unexpected technical issues. That’s where platform engineering comes in.
Platform engineering provides developers with a clean and consistent environment to work in. Think of it as a well-organized toolbox, neatly arranged with all the necessary tools. This means developers can focus on what they do best – creating outstanding software. They can channel their creativity and expertise without being bogged down by the hassles of setting up and troubleshooting technical configurations.
2. Keeping Things Consistent
Consistency is the backbone of efficient software development. Imagine you have a team of developers with a unique approach to building software. Without standardization, projects become chaotic, errors creep in, and confusion reigns.
Platform engineering ensures that every software development process follows a standardized path. It’s like everyone is reading from the same playbook. This consistency streamlines the development process and significantly reduces errors and misunderstandings. Whether it’s you working on a project or a colleague, the approach remains consistent, making collaboration smoother and more efficient.
3. Enhancing Security
Security is paramount in today’s digital landscape. Just as you’d want a vigilant security guard protecting your physical assets, platform engineering provides a similar safeguard for your software. It integrates safety measures at every stage of the software creation process.
It is good to have a reliable security system in place, always on the lookout for potential threats and vulnerabilities. Platform engineers ensure that your application is shielded from dangers and problems. They implement security measures that act as a protective barrier, safeguarding your software from cyberattacks, data breaches, and other digital threats. It’s like having a dedicated guardian watching your app, ensuring nothing harmful befalls it.
4. Performance Monitoring
Have you ever driven a car with a dashboard that provides real-time feedback on its performance? Platform engineering introduces a similar concept for your software applications. It’s akin to having a dashboard that constantly monitors how your software is functioning.
A monitoring system helps you instantly if something goes awry. Platform engineers closely monitor your applications and can quickly identify and rectify any issues that may arise. This proactive approach minimizes downtime and ensures your software runs smoothly, like a well-maintained and finely-tuned machine.
5. Fast-Tracking to Production
Speed is often the key to success. You snooze, you lose, right? Platform engineering acts as a fast track to getting your software into action. It streamlines the deployment process, significantly reducing the time it takes from development to launch.
This agility gives your organization a considerable advantage. You can respond swiftly to market demands, adapt to changes, and seize opportunities, staying ahead of the competition.
Now that we understand why platform engineering is crucial, let’s dive into how it works.
How Platform Engineering Works?
Platform engineering is a new way to make software for big businesses better. It’s all about making things more modern and efficient, especially when a company tries to change how it does things in the digital world.
Assume there’s a special team of experts whose job is to create and look after the “engineering platform.” This platform is like a toolbox filled with valuable tools and tricks that software developers and others can use to do their jobs. It’s also connected to the complicated computer systems that run everything.
Now, what this platform can do depends on what the people who use it need. These users could be the developers who make software, scientists who work with data, or even regular people who use the software. The experts who build the platform need to figure out what these users want, put those things on a priority list, and then make the platform in a way that’s helpful to those users.
When they first started making this platform, they usually began by creating a unique website for the developers inside the company. This website has a collection of tools and processes that experts carefully choose. These tools are made to be easy for the developer teams to use. The experts work closely with the developers to decide what’s best for their needs.
The main goal is to make it easy for developers to do their job without much extra work. They want to ensure developers can be productive and not have to think too hard about complicated stuff. The platform should have everything the development teams need and be set up to fit how they like to work.
Now, because new and better tools are being made constantly, platform engineering is a hot topic in DevOps. DevOps is all about making the process of developing and running software smoother, and these new tools are helping to make platform engineering even better.
What Does a Platform Engineering Team Do?
A platform engineering team creates and manages tools and systems that help engineers easily send their code into the real world. They act as a bridge between tech experts and the complex computer stuff, ensuring developers can focus on creating features without worrying about how things work.
These teams use automation to turn their knowledge into user-friendly tools like websites or APIs. They also solve common problems developers face by listening to their feedback and checking performance data.
Platform engineers ensure all the tools and systems work together smoothly, like hosts at a party. They also educate others by reviewing projects and organizing tech events. In essence, platform engineering teams simplify and enhance the software development process.
Platform Engineering Vs. DevOps
Platform engineering and DevOps are two essential approaches in software development, and while they have some similarities, they also have distinct differences.
In simple terms, DevOps promotes teamwork between developers and operations, while platform engineering provides a smooth highway for these teams by giving them the tools and processes they need.
Usually, companies start with DevOps before they get into platform engineering. Think of DevOps as the warm-up act before the main event.
Here’s a simple breakdown of Platform Engineering vs. DevOps:
|Definition||Builds an internal developer platform that minimizes coordination.||Aims to enhance coordination between developers and operations.|
|Tool Selection||Chooses tools that suit their goals.||Creates a self-service platform for DevOps tools and processes.|
|Role||Provides a centralized self-service platform for DevOps teams.||Enhances collaboration between development and operations.|
|Implementation Order||Implemented after successfully deploying DevOps.||Typically, it begins with DevOps before platform engineering.|
|Involvement||Focuses on creating and maintaining the platform for DevOps.||Engages in various stages of the software lifecycle.|
|External Users||Supports internal teams.||Releases software directly to customers.|
|Business Projects||Doesn’t work on business projects but supports DevOps.||DevOps can engage in business projects.|
So, while these two concepts work hand in hand, they have different roles. DevOps handles the entire process, while platform engineering sets the stage for them.
Platform engineering is a relatively new concept in modern software development. It is a helpful barrier between the software developers and all the technical stuff. It’s a way for organizations to boost their software delivery without sacrificing quality. It makes sure things run smoothly, and everyone’s confident.
The term “platform engineering” is still evolving, and its exact definition can vary. But one thing is crystal clear: automation is its beating heart. So, if you’re ready to improve your software team, try platform engineering.
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