Agility changed everything: the creation of software products went from being an eternal, costly process with an uncertain end, to an iterative scheme with fast deliveries and better possibilities of introducing corrections and adjusting the result exactly to what was needed. However, the acceleration of digitalization in companies motivates them to redouble their efforts to develop applications of the highest quality and maximum added value.
With this idea in mind, the notion of platform engineering is beginning to position itself in the market: a set of self-service capabilities that automate infrastructure operations and thus optimize the developer experience, accelerate the delivery of value and deal with the growing complexity of modern software architectures. It is one of the most frequently mentioned topics of conversation in the DevOps (acronym for the methodology for collaboration between DevOps and Ops) communities right now and emerges as a must-have topic for this year.
An answer to complexity
In fact, the market consulting firm, Gartner, selected it as one of the top twelve technology trends for 2023 and says it emerged in response to the fact that, in a business world with increasingly complex IT scenarios, non-expert users must deal with digital services that directly impact the business profitability. Platform engineering sits precisely in the interface space between the end user and those services, to act as a basis for cooperation between developers and operators.
According to Gartner, by 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams to act as internal providers of reusable services, components and tools for the delivery of intelligent applications.
A platform for every need
The capabilities of an engineering platform depend on the needs of each organization’s end users: at its core, it is nothing more than a product built by a dedicated team of experts and offered to developers, data scientists or end users on a case-by-case basis. In that sense, the construction of the platform is not very different from the creation of any other software product: it starts with the identification of the target user groups and continues with the gathering of their requirements -always focusing on the user experience-, and then moves on to the actual construction.
The concept of platform engineering is closely linked to the concept of internal developer portals (IDP): spaces that provide a set of tools, capabilities and processes selected by experts and packaged for easy consumption by developers.
The evolutionary step
Platform Engineering is the evolutionary step. It focuses on making the developer experience self-service and frictionless to build high value-added software with as little overload as possible. At the same time, it empowers operations teams to define which resources start in which environment, application configuration templates or permissions to automate processes such as maintenance, deployments, sourcing or monitoring, among many other variables.
There are no magic recipes or infallible formulas: the ideal platform for one company may be useless for another or, even in the same organization, for different teams of developers.
The ultimate goal of the engineering platform? To boost productivity in the creation of applications, improve quality, relieve overloads, facilitate the pace of deliveries by the development team and, most importantly, ensure that each piece of software provides real value to the business.