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Internal Developer Platform (IDP) benefits and its key components

Gursimran Singh | 27 October 2022

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Introduction to Internal Developer Platform

IDPs were intended to compartmentalize complexity and make life easier for developers and operations teams while improving project quality and performance. What are an Internal Developer Platform, the Components of IDPs, and the advantages to firms that use one? Continue reading to find out.

As cloud computing, devops, containerization, and microservice architectures have become the building blocks for modern application development, the need for a straightforward solution for internal software development teams to manage those resources has grown.

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In today's world, having a faster time to market is critical to the success of ever-growing businesses. Every consumer now expects their applications to be updated regularly. Internal developer platforms are platforms that elite corporations like Google, Netflix, and Amazon build and use to minimize the operational load on their DevOps teams and provide required abstractions to their software development teams.

What is an Internal Developer Platform?

These are a self-service layer that encompasses technologies and tools that allow developers to engage with their organization's delivery configuration independently, allowing them to self-serve environments, deployments, databases, logs, and whatever else they need to operate their apps.

These are becoming increasingly popular because they assist teams and entire organizations in streamlining processes and communication related to feature development by allowing team members to focus on what matters most to them.

Developers use Internal Developer Platforms established by Ops teams. Ops teams define which resources start-up in which environment or respond to requests. They also define application configuration templates and manage permissions. This allows them to automate regular processes like spinning up environments and resources and enforce standards to make their setup easier to maintain. Changing configurations, deploying, spinning up fully provisioned environments, and rolling back give developer teams more control. A core API layer, open-source drivers that the API uses to provide the underlying infrastructure, and a self-service UI and CLI are the three fundamental components of it.

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What are the critical components of it?

The critical components of the Internal Developer Platform are listed below:

  1. Infrastructure orchestration
  2. Role-based action management
  3. Application configuration management
  4. Deployment management
  5. Environment management
  6. Observability

Infrastructure Orchestration

It allows the developer to self-serve the application's infrastructure and frees up the Ops team from transactional tasks. It orchestrates the existing infrastructure for smoother deployments of the application.

Role-based Action Management

It offers a fine-grained degree of access management. Allows operations teams to specify who has the authorization to ship what code in a specific environment or make certain changes to which services. However, it also enables teams to collaborate with other contributors and provides limited access to certain aspects of your delivery configuration.

Application Configuration Management

This allows the Ops team to specify golden paths and standards for implementing application configuration changes. Making the setup auditable and easy to maintain generates new manifests for each deployment. Removes the need for developers to fiddle with scripts while also making the configuration scalable and dependable. It guarantees that the environment is consistent. Its are in charge of all internal or external resources linked with an application, such as databases.

Deployment Management

Introduces a self-service deployment configuration that is dependable and repeatable, resulting in consistent environments. It generates manifests during deployment, starts infrastructure orchestration, and ensures that your code is delivered. It allows you to undo and redo deployments and apply other automation.

Environment Management

The most typical request from development teams is to set up a new environment, but doing so takes a long time. As a self-service feature, developers must establish or restore environments from the it platform. It allows developers to create fully provisioned environments on-demand with ease. It enables them to manage these settings at scale while ensuring consistency and ease of maintenance.

Observability

Container logs and deployment errors are displayed in the IDPs. Observability automatically links apps and environments to the Monitoring App. Enhancing visibility and surfacing concerns encourages developer self-service and ownership to build a scalable and manageable app. Also, it lowers the cost of monitoring setup that is done elsewhere.

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What are the advantages of Internal Developer Platform?

The IDP is an excellent solution for meeting the ever-increasing demand for faster development and release cycles with total automation. Its extremely valuable and beneficial to firms because they help streamline projects and increase team member satisfaction. Here are the following benefits:

  1. Using an it, you can overcome the complexity of application configuration management. IDPs are in charge of all internal or external resources related to an application, such as databases.
  2. The development team isn't reliant on operations; it can handle deployments and environments independently using pre-built platform settings and processes.
  3. It enhances deployment frequency while increasing productivity and visibility. It also minimizes load and lead time. It also encourages developers to be inventive and try out new internal configurations.
  4. Its help you introduce faster release cycles for applications, resulting in a shorter time to market.
  5. The operations team designs ideal deployment pipelines for developers to use during the development process to publish frequent modifications to their application services automatically.
  6. Its meant to lighten the work of DevOps personnel by allowing developers to self-serve their applications by deployments, automating resources, continuous integration, etc.
  7. Clients receive their products faster and at a lesser cost; software releases become more stable since the project may start right from the beginning.
  8. With it, one can centrally manage all the services under one roof. It becomes easy for the team to debug the failures and errors coming in the application.
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Who needs IDP and How do the stakeholders benefit from it?

The platform/operations/devops team and the developer team are the two main user groups on it, each having its point of view.

The platform/operations/devops team sets up the platform, creates API hooks into the necessary infrastructure and tools, and establishes access and compliance controls. In most cases, the platform is configured by a single product owner or, in bigger businesses, a dedicated internal platform team.

That team should operate as a product owner, partner with engineers to gather needs, alleviate frequent pain points, and iterate the platform as needed, all based on essential user metrics in the highest-performing firms. They should also be skilled at internal platform evangelism. Developers are then given a pared-down version of the platform that should abstract away any infrastructure decisions, allowing them to concentrate on delivering.

All customizing power should be in the hands of the devops team, and golden routes should be created for developers who don't want to worry about the infrastructure.

How do the stakeholders benefit from it?

IDPs are beneficial to organizations because they streamline projects and help improve team member satisfaction. How do they manage it? The following are some key stakeholders who benefits from  IDP. 

  1. The operations team makes the most efficient technologies and tools; its workload is balanced, pressure is relieved, and all repetitive tasks are automated, resulting in increased team productivity.
  2. The development team does not rely on operations; it can manage deployments and environments on its own using pre-configured platform configurations and processes. This improves productivity and visibility while decreasing load and lead time and increasing deployment frequency. It also encourages developers to be innovative and experiment with internal configuration.
  3. The company relies on flawless platform processes that have been pre-planned, allowing it to start projects quickly and with less effort.
  4. Clients receive their projects faster and at a lower cost; software releases become more stable because the project can begin right away and by relying on the internal platform's out-of-the-box processes and workflows.
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What are the tools of the internal developer platform?

Internal Developer Platforms can be implemented in two ways- either you could purchase a framework or create one from scratch.

A full-fledged IDP framework, whether in-house or third-party, must actively provide five core features: infrastructure orchestration, application configuration management, deployment management, role-based access control, and environmental management. IDPs are built on top of the core DevOps tooling, and a trustworthy internal platform should reflect this. An IDP must allow the developer to manage the application configuration while maintaining scalability, dependability, and flexibility. It must integrate with your existing infrastructure and provide visibility and easy monitoring of the infrastructure. It must abstract the complexities of developing a new environment, saving developers time and increasing productivity. 

  1. Backstage: Backstage is a platform for developing developer portals. It is open-source and developed by Spotify, enabling huge teams that efficiently create and manage thousands of services and provide visibility into each developer's and team's resource usage from a centralized control plane.
  2. GimletGimlet is a partial internal developer platform that offers a simple infrastructure orchestration, environment, and deployment management platform, allowing developers to manage infrastructure independently. SaaS platform focuses on running Kubernetes deployments for mid-sized businesses but does not provide application configuration management, making it a partial IDP.
  3. UpboundIt is an environmental management and infrastructure orchestration platform which allows developers to manage infrastructure across multiple clouds and self-serve their infrastructure needs. It is available as an API, GUI, and command-line interface. Upbound, like Gimlet, does not provide full-featured application configuration management, making it a partial IDP.
  4. DevOpsBoxIt is a NoOps platform built on top of comprehensive DevOps tools that provides an abstraction layer to assist developers in provisioning and managing their infrastructure on the fly. It features its solution that provides application infrastructure orchestration, configuration management, environment management, and appropriate RBAC.
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What are the frequently asked questions?

The below are the FAQ's of  internal developer platform:

What is an internal developer platform?

These are similar to snowflakes in that no two are alike. Each platform differs from one organization to the next based on its stack, culture, codebase, and toolset, making it difficult to find an agreed-upon definition. It is a self-service layer that allows developers to interact with their organization's delivery setup independently, self-serve environments, deployments, databases, logs, and anything else they require to run their applications.

What is an open developer platform?

Open platform is a publicly available open standard platform which  allows the developer to change existing functionality,

What is the difference between open platforms and open source?

Open platform is a publicly available open standard platform which  allows the developer to change existing functionality,  Open source is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution of source code

Summary

Internal Developer Platforms alter how Ops and Development teams collaborate. They enable you to achieve a truly "you build it, you run it" mentality through a completely distinct ownership culture. Through automation, an IDP lowers transactional conversations between operations and developers. Internal Developer Platforms substantially impact both the operations and development teams' productivity. Many large organizations nowadays use it extensively because of the great benefits to development and operations teams.

What's Next?