People are excited about the promise of platform engineering empowering development teams via an internal developer portal (IDP). Once possible reason is that DevOps fragmentation is crushing any anticipated value. It’s true, IDPs are important. However, platform engineering is more than a portal.
If you want to address the DevOps fragmentation problem you must also build a cross-team, service-focused operations practice. Have you considered how to build the shared infrastructure backend of a platform team’s IDP, and who will build it?
Requirements for self-service offerings
In order to have scalable, reliable self-service offerings for developers you must build them on shared, standardized infrastructure management practices and platforms. Consolidating the infrastructure control plane with consistent, predictable APIs is the practical way to accelerate application-dev teams without compromising speed, security, cost or compliance.
A service-focused platform engineering effort embraces DevOps principles. Additionally, it focuses on dev and ops collaboration, even as they work to hide operational complexity behind robust APIs, simple CLIs and shiny portals.
Avoid the developer end-run around operations
Sadly, developer-first Platform Engineering is at risk of becoming yet another end-run around operations. When DevOps collaboration principles are ignored it usually leads to security risks, uncontrolled expenses, and yet another operational mess for your already stressed infrastructure team to manage.
How can your company avoid this trap and build a world-class collaborative Platform Engineering effort? Try our “will my Platform Engineering effort succeed” flow chart!
Focusing on the value development teams are seeking, not just a new portal. Providing reliable and streamlined access to infrastructure through a consistent API is the true foundation. Any portal is only as effective as your ability to sustain that integration.
Focus on operational excellence
We have observed a consistent pattern in our customers’ operations teams creating acceleration of value “up the stack” over and over again. RackN Digital Rebar helps our customers focus on operational excellence. It turns into a dev-enablement super-power because it is never limited to just an IDP.
Here are some of the things our customers have done using RackN Digital Rebar:
- Banks turning complicated on-premises data center builds into a routine, no-touch process
- Media companies deploying on-demand powerful rendering workstations
- Gaming companies supercharging CI/CD systems with pooled infrastructure
- Top service providers seamlessly offering specialized bare metal into their catalog.
In each case, the operations team provider their developer costumers access to infrastructure via a single API. How that API is consumed is best left up to those developer teams.
“A portal team will only ever deliver a portal”
Matthew Reinbold states this very clearly:
“A portal team will only ever deliver a portal, even when there may be better options for facilitating the core interaction of the platform. For many API platforms, especially internal ones, the desired outcome should be better/easier/faster/more-secure delivery fulfillment.’
Our customers’ successful platform engineering efforts involve collaboration between developers and operations. In most cases, this close collaboration works via a well-defined contract, delivered through a meaningful and simple infrastructure API. One example is the declarative approach taken by Digital Rebar. This means our customers don’t regress back to the developers versus operations mindset. Instead, the operations teams are able to streamline infrastructure interactions as automated services.
To sum it up, RackN Digital rebar gives operations teams a way to provide their services as a shared resource that has consistent, reliable and secure APIs. Those APIs are the fuel that supercharges self-service via portals, CI/CD pipelines, CLIs and more. More importantly, they supercharge the collaboration necessary to empower infrastructure in a meaningful way,