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All about Internal Developer Platforms

Kunal Kushwaha's photo
Kunal Kushwaha
·Apr 7, 2023·

5 min read

Table of contents

Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) are becoming increasingly important in today's fast-paced and distributed software landscape. This blog explores what IDPs are, their benefits, and how they fit into current software development trends. Learn about the advantages of creating your own IDP, how to measure ROI, which organizations are using IDPs, and the challenges they can and cannot solve. Discover why IDPs are trending now and the role they play in platform engineering.

Q1: What is an Internal Developer Platform?

An Internal Developer Platform (IDP) is a portal that connects all the tools, libraries, pipelines, and other resources that developers need to work effectively. By connecting multiple tools and activities under a single system, IDPs enable developers to easily navigate and deep dive into specific services. The services catalog, which is the heart of the IDP, provides plugins to multiple systems to facilitate this navigation. Examples of popular IDPs include Backstage and Port.io.

Q2: Why even create your own IDP?

Creating your own IDP can lead to increased development velocity and developer happiness, reduce the learning curve for new team members, and expedite the onboarding process.

Q3: ROI is hard to measure! How to do it anyway?

To measure the return on investment (ROI) of an IDP, you can track metrics such as developer activity on GitHub, PR count and cycle time, deployment frequency, and retention. For a detailed explanation, check out Spotify's blog on how they measure Backstage ROI: backstage.spotify.com/blog/how-spotify-meas...

Q4: Which organizations are using it?

IDPs are not typically valuable for very small organizations. However, they are increasingly becoming must-have tools for mid-sized, large, and enterprise organizations.

Q5: What did we have before IDP?

Before the advent of IDPs, organizations relied on tribal knowledge, links and spreadsheets, and disconnected systems to manage their development processes.

IDPs are trending now because of the rise in microservices architecture and the increasing complexity of development processes. This complexity has led to the need for a more efficient way to manage tools, resources, and knowledge.

Q7: Should developers care about IDP, or just be end-users?

Developers should care about IDPs, as they are the main users and consumers of the platform. If an IDP is not usable for developers, it's not worth implementing.

Q8: Is DevOps really dead?

DevOps is not dead. Rather, its focus is shifting from individual tasks to providing a generic platform for the organization. Platform engineering is here to stay.

Q9: Is Platform Engineering a job worth pursuing?

Platform engineering is a valuable career path. For DevOps professionals, the transition to platform engineering is a natural progression. For developers and SREs, the decision to pursue platform engineering may depend on individual interests and career goals.

Q10: What challenges don't IDPs solve?

Despite their massive capabilities, IDPs have some limitations that users should be aware of. The primary focus of IDPs is to streamline and simplify the management of services, and they may not fully address other aspects of software development. Some of these limitations include:

  1. Reliability & Stability: IDPs can help streamline the deployment process, but they do not inherently improve the stability or reliability of the applications they manage. It's still up to the developers to write resilient and fault-tolerant code.

  2. Monitoring: While some IDPs may include basic monitoring capabilities, they typically don't offer comprehensive monitoring and observability solutions. Developers will still need to integrate with other tools and services to effectively monitor their applications.

  3. Code Quality: IDPs do not automatically improve the quality of the code being developed. Developers must continue to focus on writing clean, efficient, and well-documented code.

Q11: Are there any other challenges Internal developer platforms (IDP) can help users with?

Internal developer platforms (IDP) can be instrumental in addressing a wide range of challenges that users face, although they often work in tandem with other tools and resources. For instance, IDPs can aid in the technical migration to Kubernetes, simplifying the process and ensuring a smoother transition. They also play a significant role in configuration management, enabling users to maintain consistency and control across projects. Cost reduction is another area where IDPs provide value, optimizing resource utilization and streamlining workflows. Additionally, IDPs help reduce the learning curve associated with new technologies, ultimately enhancing developer efficiency. By facilitating the shift from virtual machines to containers and eventually to Kubernetes, IDPs support users in staying current with evolving tech trends. Furthermore, IDPs can help users with tooling migration and bolster platform engineering, empowering developers to create more robust and scalable solutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) are becoming increasingly important in today's fast-paced and distributed software landscape. They offer a centralized portal that connects all the tools, libraries, pipelines, and other resources that developers need to work effectively. Creating your own IDP can lead to increased development velocity and developer happiness, reduce the learning curve for new team members, and expedite the onboarding process. To measure ROI, you can track metrics such as developer activity on GitHub, PR count and cycle time, deployment frequency, and retention. IDPs are increasingly becoming must-have tools for mid-sized, large, and enterprise organizations. Platform engineering is a valuable career path, and IDPs can be instrumental in addressing a wide range of challenges that users face, although they often work in tandem with other tools and resources. While IDPs have some limitations, they can aid users in technical migration, configuration management, cost reduction, and tooling migration, among other areas.

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