All Articles

Crafting a Platform Engineering Initiative

In the rapidly evolving landscape of a software startup, the journey from startup chaos to streamlined efficiency is both challenging and exhilarating. I’ve navigated these waters and emerged with a blueprint for an initiative that could transform your developer experience and, subsequently, your product. This blog post shares the wisdom gained from launching a dedicated Platform Engineering team and a comprehensive cloud foundations strategy.


The Power of Listening

Improving the developer experience begins with understanding it. Through internal surveys and interviews, we gained direct insight into not only our developers’ challenges but also what’s currently working well. This feedback is invaluable — it identifies areas where a platform can increase productivity and helped us craft workflows that seamlessly integrate into a developer’s existing workflow. The quickest way to fail is to build something that developers will not adopt as it is too disruptive.

The Technology Audit

A thorough audit of the technologies, tools, and vendors we were using illuminated both our strengths and our gaps. Knowing what works well and where you’re lacking is essential for ensuring that platform engineering efforts are both additive and non-redundant.

Fostering a Collaborative Culture

Establishing specific forums, such as a Slack channel for platform assistance and frequent knowledge exchange meetings, has played a crucial role in promoting collaboration and ongoing learning. These channels serve as a vital resource for rapid problem-solving and a repository of shared experiences.

Empowerment through Self-Service

By analyzing support requests, we identified common issues and tasks ripe for automation or self-service solutions. Addressing these top concerns has significantly lightened the load on our support teams and enabled developers to resolve problems swiftly and independently.

The Golden Path to Automation

Defining and automating ‘golden paths’ for common tasks has streamlined our workflows, making the complex simple. These paths include automated pipelines, code repositories for infrastructure provisioning templates, and pre-configured monitoring setups.

Documentation is Key

Clear, well-documented policies on development and deployment processes set a benchmark for consistency and compliance. These policies outline everything from security protocols to deployment privileges, providing clarity and setting expectations for all.

Building the Core Team: Leveraging In-House Talent

The cornerstone of our platform engineering initiative is the creation of a dedicated team. The best way to build this specialized group is by drawing on the talents of DevOps engineers and developers from existing teams. This approach allows us to harness their extensive experience in building and operating services to craft a platform that meets the diverse needs of developers across the company.

Conclusion: Building More Than a Set of Tools

Our journey toward enhancing the platform engineering strategy is more than a technical endeavor; it’s about cultivating an environment where developers feel supported and empowered. Any successful platform engineering initiate needs to focus on the following:

  • Build a dedicated platform engineering team.
  • Operate the platform like a product with support, user outreach, and regular release cycles.
  • Most platforms fail due to lack of adoption. Build something developers want and integrate it into their existing workflow.
  • Self-Serve pipelines and clear documentation are key.

Published Feb 6, 2024