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Platform Engineering: The Evolution to DevOps-as-a-Service

devops
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The software development industry is evolving at an unprecedented speed. Gone are the days when developers used to employ waterfall methodologies to bring efficiency and agility into development projects. Today, new frameworks and methodologies exist that sort out all the challenges of productivity, reliability, and scalability. Among those, platform engineering and DevOps are the two approaches that have garnered a lot of attention.

This blog post explains that platform engineering is a transformation of DevOps into a more systematic and service-based model. So, keep reading to understand how platform engineering offers a more scalable and standardized approach to incorporating DevOps practices into business operations. 

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Understanding DevOps

DevOps is a methodology that combines both software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to automate the entire lifecycle of software delivery. Using a set of tools and practices, DevOps integrates and streamlines the development and IT operations with the goal of achieving a quicker development lifecycle.

The key principles of DevOps are:

Collaboration and Communication: It creates an environment of continuous collaboration by breaking down barriers between development and IT operations.

Infrastructure as Code: It includes managing and allocating computing infrastructure using code instead of manual processes.

Continuous Monitoring: This principle of DevOps monitors infrastructure and applications to ensure high-quality productivity, reliability, and availability.

Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): It includes automating the mechanism of integration and deployment and ensures the quick delivery of reliable software.

Common Challenges in the Implementation of DevOps

While the advantages of DevOps are clear, it makes it difficult for companies to successfully implement it due to the following challenges:

  • Tool turbulence
  • Resistance to change
  • Securing the infrastructure
  • Stringent DevOps governance
  • Issues with the metrics and standards
  • Choosing the new tools & integrating them
  • Switching from legacy applications to micro services

Platform Engineering: The Next Step in the Evolution of DevOps

Platform engineering has emerged as the natural evolution and transformation of DevOps. It addresses all limitations associated with DevOps and paves the way for an efficient, reliable, and scalable development environment. Let’s understand what platform engineering is and why it matters.

What is Platform Engineering?

devops

Platform engineering is a modern DevOps approach. It aims to optimize the development processes, decrease operational complexities, and speed up the delivery of software and applications. It achieves this by employing a self-service platform having automated features.

Platform engineering matters as it allows developers to modernize their software delivery using reusable tools & technologies, which ultimately enables simple and smooth software development and maintenance.

Components of Platform Engineering

The following are four essential components of platform engineering:

Automation: It implements automation to manage development, deployment, and monitoring tasks, which minimizes manual effort and error.

Standardization: It includes developing standardized environments and tools to ensure uniformity and reliability across development projects and teams.

Self-Service: It provides developers with easy access to the resources and tools, such as databases and CI/CD pipelines, for faster and autonomous workflows.

Scalability: It includes designing infrastructure and services that can scale with the evolving needs and demands of companies.

Understanding DevOps as a Service (DaaS)

Develops as a Service offers cloud-based tools and services that automate DevOps practices. These DevOps practices include continuous integration, deployment, and monitoring. DevOps as a Service offers a scalable platform that ensures collaboration between software development and IT operations teams. The goal of this service is to encourage quicker and more reliable software delivery.

What is Similar between Platform Engineering and DevOps as a Service?

The following are the top 5 similarities between platform engineering and DevOps as a Service. 

1. Automation and CI/CD Pipelines

Platform engineering aims to develop and maintain automated CI/CD pipelines. Using it, developers can easily test, integrate, and deploy code changes to their software development environments.

On the other hand, DevOps as a Service also recognizes the value of CI/CD pipelines. This service provider offers tools to streamline the overall process of software delivery. This helps them decrease manual intervention and the chances of potential errors.

2. Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Platform engineering allows developers to use IaC to manage and supervise development infrastructure through code. It doesn’t promote manual processes. So, infrastructure as code ensures consistent and version-control deployment of infrastructure.

On the other hand, DevOps as a Service also includes IaC when they offer DaaS services. They assist companies in managing their infrastructure with the help of code. This ensures that infrastructure is consistent, efficient, and as well as scalable.

3. Monitoring and Observability

Platform engineering implements detailed monitoring and observability solutions. These solutions easily track the performance of infrastructure and detect all potential issues in the system. This includes tracking all components of the system and collecting the necessary logs, metrics, and traces.

DaaS providers also offer monitoring and observability tools. These tools are included in their offerings.  DevOps as a Service ensures that businesses get all the insights into their systems so that they can sort out all potential issues timely.

4. Collaboration and Communication

Platform engineering encourages a culture of collaboration and communication between the stakeholders. It promotes that there must be a culture of shared responsibility between the development and IT operations teams.

DevOps as a Service also promotes a culture of collaboration and shared responsibilities. It offers integrated tools that remove all the communication barriers between the stakeholders. Like platform engineering, DaaS also encourages that there must be a continuous feedback process in order to automate the systematic processes.

5. Scalability and Flexibility

Platform engineering solutions are scalable and flexible.  They can handle different workloads according to the changing needs of the business. In essence, platform engineering uses cloud-native technologies and systems that make this solution scalable and flexible.

On the other hand, DaaS also provides businesses with scalable and flexible solutions. Like platform engineering, DaaS solutions also grow with the changing needs of businesses. DaaS providers employ cloud infrastructure and services to make their development and deployment processes scalable.

Advantages of Platform Engineering and DevOps as a Service

Now let’s have an eye-bird view of the benefits of platform engineering and DaaS!

  • Cost efficiency
  • Speed and agility
  • Security and scalability
  • Consistency and reliability
  • Focus on core competencies
  • Flexibility and customization
  • Enhanced developer experience

Challenges and Considerations

1. Customization vs. Standardization

There must be a balance between custom solutions and the efficiency of standardized tools. Platform engineering develops reusable components. However, rigid standards can prevent innovation and cause adaptability issues. Maintaining flexibility as well as coherence is a major challenge.

2. Scalability and Maintenance

When it comes to the scalability of an organization, continuous maintenance and support of software is essential. This needs dedicated resources to prevent any kind of technical issues and service disruptions.

3. Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are also major challenges. Organizations must integrate security and compliance measures according to the industry regulations. Platform engineers must develop infrastructure that protects applications and follows the legal standards of the industries. This includes a proactive approach to vulnerability assessments and compliance requirements.

Conclusion

Now, it is clear that platform engineering isn’t a substitute for DevOps. However, it is an evolution that offers a reliable and scalable approach to providing DevOps capabilities as a service.

Organizations like Airbnb, Spotify, and Zalando have already implemented this model. Moreover, Gartner claims that 80% of software development companies will have a dedicated team of platform engineers by the end of 2028.

As market dynamics are evolving, companies must incorporate the principles of these disciplines. It has become essential for companies to invest in this necessary skillset, and line up their strategies with the new trends to remain competitive in the market.

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