Are you thinking about switching from DevOps to platform engineering? You're not alone. In order to remain competitive, many organizations are making this crucial change as the world of software development and operations continues to change. This article will discuss the reasons behind the transition, what it implies, and most importantly, how your organization may successfully manage the change.
Our recent survey has revealed a dramatic shift in the market, with platform engineering becoming increasingly recognized and used by a wide range of organizations. As we move into this new era, it also made clear the need for deeper comprehension and readiness.
This shift represents a fundamental evolution in how we design, build, and deliver software. It brings an array of new opportunities but also fresh challenges. So, buckle up as we illuminate the path toward platform engineering, drawing upon insights from our survey and industry expertise to lay out a roadmap for your successful transition from DevOps to platform engineering. Let's arm you with the knowledge to thrive in this new era.
Understanding the shift
To understand this shift from DevOps to platform engineering, it's crucial first to clarify what distinguishes these two practices:
|DevOps||At its core, DevOps is a dynamic, agile relationship that bridges the gap between development and operations within an organization. It is not merely a set of tools but a cultural shift that promotes a collaborative approach to delivering software quickly, efficiently, and reliably.|
|Platform Engineering||Platform Engineering takes these DevOps principles a step further. It involves creating self-service, platform-like experiences that empower developers, thus enabling them to focus more on writing code and less on configuring the underlying infrastructure. This approach helps to abstract complexities, increase standardization, and deliver greater operational efficiency.|
Now, the question arises, why is this shift occurring? And what advantages does platform engineering bring to the table?
Firstly, our recent survey findings highlighted a significant trend: organizations that have adopted platform engineering practices noted an improvement in standardization (50.4% of respondents) and faster product delivery (43.2%). These benefits directly correlate with the challenges observed in DevOps practices, such as a lack of standardization, which was identified by 54% of our survey respondents.
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In essence, platform engineering is addressing core challenges that organizations have encountered while implementing DevOps. By enhancing standardization and automation, platform engineering minimizes manual errors, improves efficiency, and ensures more predictable and reliable software delivery.
Moreover, the advent of cloud-native technologies and containerization has accelerated the shift towards platform engineering. These technologies allow for greater scalability, flexibility, and resilience, which are increasingly important as software systems become more complex.
In sum, this transition to platform engineering is driven by a quest for improved operational efficiency, standardization, and speed in software delivery. As organizations continue to tackle complex systems and strive for innovation, the shift to platform engineering is a logical and promising next step in the evolution of software development and operations.
Preparing for the shift
Transitioning from DevOps to platform engineering involves a shift in approach, skills, and toolsets. The process demands careful planning, and organizations should consider several key factors.
Firstly, it's crucial to understand that platform engineering goes beyond tooling to encompass culture and processes. Much like DevOps, successful adoption involves fostering a culture of collaboration, learning, and transparency. Our survey results highlighted that resistance to change is a primary obstacle when implementing DevOps practices, and the same can be expected when shifting to platform engineering.
Secondly, organizations need to be prepared to invest in the skills necessary for platform engineering. This includes an understanding of software engineering and systems engineering principles, and proficiency in cloud technologies, infrastructure as code (IaC), CI/CD, containerization, and orchestration. The demand for these skills will likely increase as platform engineering continues to gain momentum, as suggested by our survey.
Another vital aspect of the transition involves selecting the right tools and technologies. In our survey, we found that the lack of standardization was a major challenge in implementing DevOps practices. In response to this, platform engineering emphasizes the importance of using standardized toolsets to reduce variability and improve predictability. It's advisable to choose tools that align with your organization's needs and goals. GitOps, AI and Machine Learning, DevSecOps, developer platforms, and serverless computing were identified as key emerging trends in our survey.
Finally, organizations should anticipate an evolution in their roles and responsibilities. The roles of a platform engineer, SRE, and DevOps engineer might converge or become more specialized, depending on the organization's size and structure. Organizations need to clearly communicate these changes and provide the necessary training to help their teams adapt.
Adopting platform engineering is a significant step towards achieving operational efficiency, standardization, and faster product delivery. It represents a natural evolution of DevOps, and organizations that recognize and prepare for this shift stand to gain a competitive edge in the new era of software development and operations.
Key steps for the transition
The transition from DevOps to platform engineering is a considerable undertaking that necessitates careful planning and execution. Below, we outline a step-by-step guide for this process, informed by our recent survey findings, along with potential challenges and proposed solutions.
|Assess Your Current State||Start by taking a comprehensive inventory of your current DevOps practices, tools, and culture. Identify what's working well and what needs improvement. A critical aspect revealed in our survey was the lack of standardization when implementing DevOps practices; consider how this factor might be influencing your operations.|
|Define Your Goals||What do you hope to achieve with platform engineering? Faster delivery times, improved standardization, or increased efficiency? Clear objectives will guide your transition process and help measure your progress.|
|Identify Necessary Skills and Tools||Our survey identified GitOps, AI/ML, DevSecOps, developer platforms, and serverless computing as emerging trends. Evaluate which skills and tools are relevant to your organization and plan to acquire them.|
|Foster a Platform Mindset||Platform engineering is as much about culture as it is about tools and technology. Cultivate a culture that emphasizes learning, collaboration, and transparency.|
|Plan Your Transition||Create a detailed roadmap for your transition. This might involve phases such as pilot projects, broad implementation, and continual refinement.|
|Implement Gradually||Avoid attempting to change everything at once. Instead, implement changes gradually and learn from each step. Our survey found that resistance to change was a significant challenge in implementing DevOps practices, and a similar challenge can be expected here.|
|Measure Progress||Establish clear metrics for success, such as deployment frequency, lead time for changes, change failure rate, and mean time to recovery (MTTR).|
|Refine and Improve||Platform engineering is a continual process. Learn from your experiences, and continually refine your practices, tools, and culture.|
While this transition may present challenges, including resistance to change and the need for new skills, the potential benefits make the journey worthwhile. By strategically navigating these steps and addressing any obstacles that arise, your organization can effectively transition to platform engineering, thereby leveraging its benefits of increased efficiency, standardization, and faster product delivery.
Platform Engineering at HubSpot
In an interview between Zoe Sobin and Karolina Toth on the Level-up Engineering podcast, they outlined the challenges and support surrounding platform engineering at HubSpot. At HubSpot, they have adopted platform engineering to create a self-service platform that empowers their developers to focus more on writing code and less on managing the underlying infrastructure.
Since HubSpot’s platform engineering team has been responsible for building and maintaining the platform, they have seen a significant improvement in operational efficiency, standardization, and software delivery speed. Our research supports these findings from HubSpot, as 50.4% of respondents from our survey said that adopting platform engineering has improved standardization across their organization.
The successful implementation of platform engineering at HubSpot underscores the potential benefits of this approach, including improved operational efficiency, faster software delivery, and increased standardization.
Investing in Platform Engineering at Shopify
Another interview saw Jean-Michel Lemieux (former CTO of Shopify and VP of Engineering at Atlassian) speak about his insights on the importance of investing in platform engineering on the Engineering Enablement podcast. Within this interview, he advocates for allocating 50% of R&D resources to platform work, arguing that it provides long-term business impact.
Throughout, we see that Lemieux's perspective underscores the strategic importance of platform engineering by advocating for more investments for platform work to drive long-term business impact and improve operational efficiency. This reflects the core findings from our research that outlines how 65% of respondents agree or strongly agree that platform engineering is the next evolution of DevOps as it allows for significant improvements in organizations' development and operations processes.
In this evolving technological landscape, platform engineering emerges as a transformative force, moving beyond the traditional DevOps approach. As evidenced in our recent survey and throughout this blog post, it provides many benefits, including increased operational efficiency, faster development cycles, and improved scalability.
Understanding the shift is essential - it's not just a renaming of DevOps, but a fundamental evolution. With a clearer focus on creating developer platforms, platform engineering promotes more effective collaboration, better standardization, and self-service capabilities.
The transition might seem daunting, but as our case studies have shown, successful implementation can yield tremendous benefits. The key is thorough preparation - understanding the necessary tools, technologies, and skills, and planning a detailed, step-by-step transition strategy.