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Platform Engineering Overview - Tools and Best Practices

Navdeep Singh Gill | 25 April 2023

Platform Engineering

Introduction to Platform Engineering

The future is set to adopt platform teams to optimize development practices and help the overworked engineer maintain a streamlined application development and delivery process. It is trending because it optimizes developer experience and accelerates delivery processes to drive customer value.

Gartner predicted that by 2027, more than 50% of enterprises would use cloud platforms to accelerate business processes. It will become necessary when an organization has multiple DevOps teams, each working on maintaining visibility, security, and resilience in their evolving application. The essential requirement of it is to scale the activities of DevOps and enable consistency and agility.

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The Shift of Software Career

Initially, some teams were responsible for writing and some for running the code. Soon, this was seen as a mistake, and with technological advancement and complex system DevOps, a collaborative practice was introduced to lighten the workload and streamline the process.

Before, some engineers wrote code, and some ran the code. Now, all engineers write the code, and all run the code. It takes it to the next level; the bifurcation of responsibility makes it easy for the developer to develop the application and create an answer to everyday challenges for the current DevOps.

What is Platform Engineering?

Its responsibility is to scale the practices of the DevOps team and modernize the DevOps approach to enable efficiency. Most of the time, its responsibility is confused with DevOps. They are similar in some aspects but hold a lot of different functionality.

For example, It some application is to build a common collaboration between it and DevOps teams. The team should provide a base for the development and assist the DevOps team with tools to make the development delivery faster and more reliable.

It leverages the cloud platform and allows the development team to deploy software. Many Software Developers face challenges with multiple manual procedures, including managing and creating repositories and infrastructure components for production. That’s why it is incorporated into these processes and provides effective development processes, reduces cost, and removes obstacles for developers.

Cloud Computing - The New Frontier for Platform Engineering

Cloud Computing has become an essential part of modern business as we near the end of the decade. It allows the organization to reduce its infrastructure footprint while still providing high-quality services to its customers. The cloud offers many benefits, including scalability, availability, and data integrity. It also allows software engineering organizations to reduce costs and increase flexibility. The great thing about the cloud is that you can easily create your private cloud or use an existing public cloud such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure. You can also use a hybrid approach, using a private cloud while using public cloud services when needed. 

Why is Platform Engineering important for large enterprises?

Any organization can have multiple DevOps teams with different responsibilities. It can ensure consistency and allow for better productivity and efficiency. It has a variety of benefits for an organization. The product developed by the team enables DevOps to write and run the code with maximum efficiency. Let’s see some of the benefits of platform engineering teams:-

  1. Enhancing the Development Processes: It automates the process for the DevOps team. Without it, the manual processes become almost impossible to solve and are error-prone. With the heavy reliance on automation, developers can focus on seamless software development and delivery, including speeding up the software development processes and driving business value to enhance customer experience without compromising the quality and speed of the product.
  2. Removing Bottlenecks: Imagine a superstar developer with immense skills in Kubernetes, helm charts, and Terraform modules which can quickly complete any production task, but small companies cannot afford to hire such excellent developers. Still, with it, any developer can code and operate software in any environment while improving the customer experience and delivering quality services with consistency and agility.
  3. Enabling innovation with efficiency development: Platform engineers have the major task of automating the processes to let the DevOps team focus on critical operations. They provide a self-service portal and allow for innovations by experimenting and practicing new technologies and tools.
  4. Scalability with Automation: It can enable the development team to create, remove, and update the environment without knowing anything about it. Platform engineers provide self-service capabilities, so even a junior developer can quickly code and deploy the application.
    In short, most organizations are starting to realize the need for it to advance with effective software development support and innovative initiatives to provide a seamless developer experience and the development of customized applications with a continuous architectural approach.
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How does Platform Engineering work?

  1. It is the process of building and maintaining the underlying infrastructure and platforms that support software systems' development, deployment, and operation. It involves a set of tools and processes that help large software engineering organizations to automate the provisioning and management of cloud resources, improve the performance and availability of software systems, and increase collaboration between development and operations teams. 
  2. Its process typically starts with the design and implementation of a platform architecture that defines the overall structure and components of the platform. This includes defining the underlying infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and networks, and the platform's software stack, such as operating systems, middleware, and frameworks. The platform architecture serves as the foundation for the platform and is critical to its overall performance and scalability. 
  3. Once the platform architecture is in place, platform engineers use various tools and processes to automate the provisioning and management of cloud resources. These tools include infrastructure as code (IAC) tools, such as Terraform and CloudFormation, that allow engineers to programmatically provision and manage cloud resources. They also use configuration management tools, such as Ansible and Chef, to automate the configuration of servers and software components. Containers like Docker and Kubernetes are also widely used to package and deploy software applications, making them portable and easy to manage.
  4. Platform engineers also use monitoring and logging tools to collect and analyze data on the performance and usage of the platform. This data is then used to optimize the platform and ensure it runs at peak performance. By monitoring various metrics, such as CPU and memory usage, network traffic, and error rates, platform engineers can identify and troubleshoot issues and plan for future scaling needs.
  5. In addition to managing the infrastructure and platforms, platform engineers work closely with development teams to ensure that the platform supports the development and deployment of software applications. This includes providing the necessary APIs, libraries, and frameworks developers need to build and deploy their applications. Platform engineers also work with development teams to implement continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, which automate the software delivery process and improve the speed and quality of software releases.

How does it upgrade regularly?

Platform engineers also collaborate with operations teams to ensure the platform is highly available and performs well in production. This includes implementing and maintaining backup and disaster recovery plans and performing regular software updates and upgrades. By working closely with operations teams, platform engineers can ensure that the platform runs smoothly and that any issues are quickly identified and resolved.

It also involves working with security teams to ensure the platform is secure and that all necessary security best practices are followed. This includes implementing role-based access control, network segmentation, and encryption. By implementing robust security measures, platform engineers can help protect the platform and the software systems that run on it from potential threats and vulnerabilities. 

An approach in which developers merge their code into a shared repository several times a day. Download it to explore continuous integration vs. continuous deployment.

What are its major benefits in industries?

As mentioned above, it is the key to fast development in the cloud. There are many benefits to developing applications using the cloud, but one of the most significant is the ability for developers to build and deploy their applications faster.

Automates the provisioning and management of cloud resources; it allows developers to focus on building and deploying applications rather than managing the underlying infrastructure. This leads to faster development cycles and the ability to respond quickly to changing business needs.

Reliable and scalable infrastructure

It improves the overall performance and availability of software systems, reduces downtime, and increases the efficiency of the software delivery process. Increase collaboration between development and operations teams; it provides a standard set of tools and processes. Also enables these teams to work together more effectively and efficiently.

Enhance the security of software systems.

It provides a secure foundation. It enables organizations to implement security best practices, such as role-based access control and network segmentation, at the infrastructure level.

Easy Scalability

It helps to increase the scalability of software systems by providing the necessary tools and processes to scale resources up or down as needed quickly. This allows organizations to handle increased traffic and user demand without compromising performance or availability.

Consistent Deployment

It also provides a consistent and repeatable way of deploying and managing software systems. This helps organizations reduce the risk of human errors in the process and makes it more predictable and manageable.

Reduce Operational Costs

It also enables organizations to standardize how they manage and operate their software systems, which can help reduce overall operational costs. 

Adopting cloud platforms helps to reduce costs, increase agility, and improve the performance and reliability of its IT systems.Click to explore about our, Cloud Platform Engineering

How is it different from DevOps and SRE?

  • First, let's talk about SRE, which originated at Google and has a lot of similarities with DevOps practices. The main objective lies in the fact that it is used to maintain the software infrastructure and ensure a smooth, reliable, and robust system.
  • On the other hand, DevOps - Is oriented toward building and maintaining several infrastructures and works with almost anything, from data centers to containers and clouds. DevOps teams are mostly responsible for infrastructure capacity planning, scaling, performance tuning, and delivering value to the customer with reliable software delivery.
In it, the goal is to optimize for the best performance for the Software development team and automate the process for effective software delivery. While sharing a lot of similarities in practices, the above-mentioned differences between DevOps, SRE, and Platform Engineering are brief.

What are the best Platform Engineering Tools?

The best tools are listed below:

  1. Kubernetes
  2. Crossplane
  3. Gitlab CI
  4.  Backstage
  5. Qovery
  6. ArgoCD
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The future is for Platform Engineering, and even the current implementation provides a competitive edge to the organization. To enable the DevOps team with commonly used systems and architectural patterns to evolve and optimize the operation for it to grow. Even if organizations tend to stay on DevOps, there will be multiple DevOps teams at some point, and the proper execution of processes will require a team with a self-service and customized solution for every particular requirement.