In this article, we will explore the concept of platform engineering in depth, discuss how it differs from DevOps, and outline some best practices for building and managing a platform.
Platform engineering refers to the process of designing, developing, and maintaining a software platform that serves as a foundation for building and deploying other software applications. In other words, platform engineering involves creating the underlying infrastructure and tools that enable other developers to build and deliver their own software applications more efficiently and effectively.
At its core, platform engineering is all about enabling software developers to focus on what they do best – building great applications – while abstracting away the underlying complexities of infrastructure and deployment. By creating a standardized platform that provides a consistent set of tools and processes, platform engineers can help to accelerate the development process and ensure that applications are built to the highest standards of quality and reliability.
There are many different aspects to platform engineering, including:
Architecture and Design: One of the most important aspects of platform engineering is designing a platform architecture that is flexible, scalable, and reliable. The process entails recognizing the essential elements of the platform and guaranteeing that they are constructed in a manner that enables simple incorporation with other systems.
Infrastructure Management: Platform engineers are responsible for managing the underlying infrastructure that supports the platform, including servers, databases, and networking. This involves designing and deploying the infrastructure in a way that is secure, reliable, and scalable.
Tools and Processes: Platform engineers are responsible for developing and maintaining the tools and processes that enable other developers to build and deploy applications on the platform. This includes things like version control, continuous integration and deployment, and testing frameworks.
Monitoring and Maintenance: Once the platform is up and running, platform engineers are responsible for monitoring its performance and making sure that it is running smoothly. This involves identifying and resolving issues as they arise, as well as planning for future growth and scalability.
Security: Platform engineers are responsible for ensuring that the platform is secure and that sensitive data is protected. This includes implementing security protocols and procedures, as well as monitoring the platform for potential security threats.
Platform Engineering vs DevOps 
While platform engineering and DevOps share some similarities, they are distinct practices with different goals and responsibilities.
Symphony orchestra and Jazz band 
Comparing platform engineering and DevOps is like comparing a symphony orchestra and a jazz band. Platform engineering is like a symphony orchestra, where each individual musician plays a specific instrument and follows a predefined score. The conductor is in charge of coordinating all the musicians to create a harmonious and cohesive performance. Similarly, platform engineers build the infrastructure and systems that support software development and delivery, following established processes and guidelines.
DevOps, on the other hand, is like a jazz band, where individual musicians have more freedom to improvise and create their own unique sound. Each member of the band has a different role and contributes to the overall performance in their own way. Similarly, DevOps practitioners have more autonomy to experiment and innovate in their approach to software development and delivery, using tools and processes that work best for them.
Just like a symphony orchestra and a jazz band can both produce beautiful music, platform engineering and DevOps are both essential to creating high-quality software products. The key is finding the right balance between structure and flexibility, and leveraging the strengths of each approach to achieve your goals.
DevOps is a cultural and organizational movement that emphasizes collaboration and communication between development and operations teams. The goal of DevOps is to create a culture of shared responsibility for the entire software delivery pipeline, from development to deployment and beyond.
Platform engineering, on the other hand, is a technical practice focused on building and managing the infrastructure and services that support the software delivery pipeline. While platform engineers may work closely with development and operations teams, their primary responsibility is to design, build, and maintain the underlying platform infrastructure.
In other words, while DevOps is focused on the culture and collaboration needed to deliver software quickly and reliably, platform engineering is focused on the technical systems and infrastructure needed to support that culture.
Best Practices for Platform Engineering
Building a successful platform requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to consider when building and managing a platform:
- Start with a clear understanding of your requirements: Before you start building your platform, you should have a clear understanding of the needs of your organization and the teams that will be using it. This includes understanding their technical requirements, as well as their workflows and processes.
- Use automation and infrastructure as code: Automation is a key enabler of platform engineering. By using tools like CTO.ai, you can automate the creation and management of your infrastructure, making it easier to scale and maintain.
- Build for scalability: Your platform should be designed to scale as your organization grows. This means using scalable technologies like Kubernetes and building your services with scalability in mind.
- Design for resilience: Your platform should be designed to be resilient to failures. This means using redundant systems, designing for high availability, and planning for disaster recovery.
- Prioritize security: Security should be a top priority when building your platform. This means using secure design principles, enforcing access controls, and regularly auditing and monitoring your systems.
- Foster a culture of collaboration: While platform engineering is primarily a technical practice, it's important to foster a culture of collaboration between your platform engineering team, your development teams, and your operations teams. This means creating open channels of communication and actively seeking feedback and input from all stakeholders.
Platform engineering is a critical practice for organizations looking to scale and optimize their software delivery pipeline. By building a well-designed platform, organizations can improve scalability, reliability, and security, while also fostering a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility.
To build a successful platform, organizations should start with a clear understanding of their requirements, use automation and infrastructure as code, design for scalability and resilience, prioritize security, and foster a culture of collaboration. By following these best practices, organizations can build a platform that meets the needs of their teams and supports their overall business objectives.
Written by: Advait Ranade