Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Managing the transition from DevOps to Platform Engineering

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DevOps

DevOps has historically been the dominant force in software development, explained by Pearl Zhu as being “for harnessing integration, interaction, and innovation.” With the increasing pressure on companies to keep pace in a rapidly evolving technological space, these capabilities are essential. 

But this is changing. The standardization of DevOps into Platform Engineering demonstrates the efforts many organizations are going to make developers’ lives easier and more productive. While not a new field, this transition represents an evolution in how we design, build, and deliver software.

However, companies must thoughtfully manage this shift — maintaining the benefits of DevOps while reducing discrepancies throughout this evolution. Rather than wholly substituting current systems, the priority lies in upgrading established infrastructure. Through careful change implementation, organizations can elevate their DevOps sophistication to new heights with Platform Engineering, capitalizing on arising opportunities. 

Understanding the change

It’s important to remember that DevOps is more than just tools — it represents a cultural shift in how software is delivered. At its core, DevOps breaks down barriers between developers and operations teams within an organization. To achieve this, DevOps relies on key principles like automation, constant improvement, and close collaboration. 

Netflix exemplifies DevOps success. Its cloud-native model, prioritizing innovation and customer experience, is powered by DevOps culture. This has driven personalization — like the ‘Netflix algorithm’ for recommendations — by deeply understanding user data. Ultimately, Netflix owes its cutting-edge UX to DevOps principles.

Getting the processes right

When software development methodologies are going through a process of change, clearly defining critical terms from the outset helps avoid uncertainty for those adopting it. Ensuring developer crews fully comprehend core concepts equips them with tools to thrive. However, Civo’s research highlights a concerning knowledge gap. Though most DevOps engineers rated their DevOps comprehension as “very good,” only 41 percent claimed familiarity with Platform Engineering. Bridging this awareness divide early enables teams to grasp approaches quickly rather than getting lost in terminology. 

Siloed DevOps causes complexity. Without company-wide standards, teams choose disjointed tools. As teams transition from these silos to a consistent Platform Engineering approach, these issues can balloon into inefficient, insecure systems.

Platform Engineering creates internal developer solutions to help overcome these barriers. A centralized team provides infrastructure, deployments, CI/CD, and managed services as self-service APIs. This plug-and-play foundation lets projects build instead of rebuilding the wheel, with the benefits being far-reaching. Standardization reduces tool sprawl, connecting operations with tighter security, governance, and control. Streamlining efforts lets everyone work faster and focuses developers on delivering innovations quickly.

To put this into action you need to:

  • Audit and align current practices
  • Define platform needs and goals
  • Reskill on new technologies
  • Foster transparency, learning, and user focus
  • Gradually implement and refine platform capabilities per user feedback

Following this pathway, Platform Engineering enters a new period of rapid, reliable delivery. Strategically installing technical capabilities while updating processes, consolidates DevOps gains into a more scalable model to manage complexity.

Organizations leading the way 

Major companies are already demonstrating the potential of platform engineering. As discussed in industry interviews, CRM software company HubSpot adopted a self-service platform approach that allows developers to focus on writing code rather than infrastructure management. A Civo survey mirrors their results — 50.4 percent of respondents cited improved standardization after implementing platform engineering. HubSpot also reported gains in efficiency and delivery speeds. 

Similarly, Jean-Michel Lemieux, former CTO of Shopify and VP of Engineering at Atlassian, has advocated allocating 50 percent of R&D resources specifically for platform work. In interviews, he highlighted platform engineering’s long-term business impacts. Civo’s findings align with this strategic perspective — 65 percent of respondents view platform engineering as the next phase after DevOps, dramatically enhancing development and operations. 

These real-world examples showcase the tangible benefits of committing to platform engineering. Organizations leading in adoption are already seeing increased standardization, productive developers, faster delivery, and greater efficiency. As Lemieux stressed, the emphasis must go beyond piecemeal efforts – significant investment pays dividends. Companies transitioning from DevOps can look to these success stories for inspiration and validation. The evidence makes a compelling case — platform engineering powers competitive advantage.

The Next Phase in Software

Platform Engineering marks the next software development phase, allowing unprecedented speed and scale. By enhancing automation it boosts efficiency and reliability, directly addressing DevOps standardization challenges.

The shift is driven by complex cloud-native systems demanding greater flexibility. As organizations tackle intricate software and pursue innovation, Platform Engineering is the logical next step. Companies that embrace this transition will better capitalize on opportunities and meet rising customer expectations.

Change can be difficult, but the benefits make the process worthwhile — new skills, standardized tools, and gradual implementation ease the path. With careful preparation, organizations can unlock the advantages of Platform Engineering.

Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock

Saiyam Pathak is Field CTO at Civo

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