Platform Engineering: Simplifying Cloud Migration for Large Organizations

Platform Engineering: Simplifying Cloud Migration for Large Organizations

How a platform-as-a-product mindset is revolutionizing the way large organizations transition to the cloud

As larger organizations increasingly embrace cloud computing, the role of platform engineering has emerged as a crucial component in facilitating this transition. By adopting a platform-as-a-product mindset, companies can anticipate and address the cognitive load that often accompanies cloud migration. In a recent keynote address at All Day DevOps, Yonit Gruber-Hazani, a customer engineer at Google Cloud, shared her insights on platform engineering in the public sector. In this article, we explore the patterns and anti-patterns she observed and examine how they differ based on the size of the organization.

Developer Experience and Cognitive Load:

Gruber-Hazani emphasized the importance of developer experience (DevEx) in platform engineering. DevEx encompasses factors such as performance, productivity, happiness at work, quality, and retention. To enhance DevEx, platform engineering aims to reduce the cognitive load on developers, enabling them to focus on building applications rather than dealing with complex infrastructure and operations tasks. By providing a pre-configured development environment and eliminating unnecessary choices, platform engineering streamlines the onboarding process and empowers developers to work more efficiently.

What is Platform Engineering?

Platform engineering involves the implementation of repeatable tooling and models, self-service capabilities through APIs, and the creation of a one-to-many “vending machine of services.” It also includes establishing organization-specific workflows and maintaining guardrails to ensure security, monitoring, logging, and other essential functionalities. By offering these services through a platform, organizations can tame technical complexity, reduce costs, increase development speed, and enhance safety and security.

Talk to Your Users:

One common anti-pattern in platform engineering is the assumption that platform engineers know best. However, adopting a platform-as-a-product mindset requires actively engaging with internal users to understand their needs and preferences. By soliciting feedback and involving developers in decision-making processes, platform teams can improve developer experience, support recruitment and retention efforts, and align platform capabilities with business goals. Building a continuous conversation with developer customers through documentation, support, user groups, and feedback mechanisms is crucial for successful platform engineering.

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Platform Engineering at Larger Organizations:

Platform engineering at larger organizations introduces additional complexities. Cloud costs become more intricate, necessitating the adoption of FinOps practices to track and optimize spending. Procurement processes, prevalent in the public sector, add further layers of complexity. Starting with less complex systems and gradually expanding the golden path allows for early wins and fosters internal platform advocacy. As platform maturity progresses, considerations such as incident management, better CI/CD pipelines, infrastructure as code, DevSecOps, and cross-organizational architectural standards become vital.

Conclusion:

Platform engineering is revolutionizing the way large organizations transition to the cloud by simplifying the migration process and reducing the cognitive load on developers. By adopting a platform-as-a-product mindset and actively engaging with internal users, companies can enhance developer experience, improve productivity, and align platform capabilities with business goals. The continuous feedback loop and incremental approach to building the golden path enable organizations to navigate the complexities of cloud migration while ensuring the success and scalability of their platform engineering efforts.

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