One of the primary purposes of technology is to automate tasks to free up people’s time and resources. For many organizations the modern software development lifecycle has become convoluted and bogged down by the bloat of applications and systems required to ideate, write, test, and deploy the software. On average, organizations use 130 SaaS applications, while enterprises (10,000+ employees) use an average of 410 SaaS apps.1
With average security, engineering, and IT teams using 78, 77, and 61 SaaS apps, respectively2, smoothly bridging the gaps between all the systems from all the functions can become a herculean task for software developers. Enter platform engineers. Platform engineering teams combat these complexities by building and operating internal developer platforms (IDP) that streamline the software development process and the management of the underlying infrastructure.
An effective IDP will act as a self-service layer that enables software developers to automate common workflows and thus reduce the time and labor required to realize business value from the software. Gartner projects that by 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will utilize platform engineering teams that manage IDPs that offer reusable services and tools to improve the software development lifecycle.3
The productivity efficiencies and business value improvements from platform engineering aren’t just limited to developers. Other business units, such as data scientists, can utilize an internally created and managed platform to help automate their workflows. A platform engineers practice can deliver immense benefits to organizations of all sizes.
Enabling knowledge workers with self-service tools and common workflows can save them valuable time and mental energy by automating many important yet repetitive tasks. A quality platform should remove process friction by eliminating the reliance on ticketing systems or other teams to access the systems necessary to perform tasks. For instance, by no longer having to build and maintain development environments, an IDP provides developers greater agility to focus on writing, testing, and shipping completed products and patches much faster.
Regimenting your software development process with a set of tools and workflows can enable your organization to better satisfy potential data governance and compliance requirements. The self-service workflows should help to reduce human errors that could lead to possible security vulnerabilities and data leaks. Also, by automating the provisioning of resources via the platform, you can construct strict guardrails that ensure security protocols are followed when end-users are working in those applications and systems.
Organizations can use platforms to better regulate their technology stack and combat the data sprawl that may result from supporting numerous superfluous systems and applications. If developers and other end-users are near-exclusively using the platform’s workflows, they’re much less apt to create software or perform work that may not comport with the organization’s tech ecosystem. By aligning development teams to operate by the same protocols, IDPs can help ensure that high-quality and functional products are released on time and on budget.
While standing up and operating a quality platforming engineering practice isn’t cheap, the extensive business value it can deliver throughout your organization may be well worth the investment, especially when scaling your operations. Platform engineering can compile and disperse that foundational technical knowledge base to help ramp up new hires and keep existing employees satisfied by eliminating many tedious yet important tasks that must be performed routinely for the business unit to function.
- Bettercloud, 2023 State of SaaS Apps, November 2022
- Productiv, The State of SaaS Sprawl in 2021, September 2021
- Gartner, What is Platform Engineering?, October 2022