IT teams, developers, department heads and CTOs must ensure that applications and digital products are launched quickly, efficiently and securely and are always available. But often the conditions for this are not given. Compliance and security policies, as well as long and complicated processes, make it difficult for IT teams to achieve these goals. But this doesn't have to be the case and can be solved with the help of a developer self-service or Internal Developer Platform.

Simplified comparison of Platform Engineering vs Internal Developer Platform vs Developer Self-Service.

Platform Engineering vs. Internal Developer Platform vs. Developer Self-Service

What is Platform Engineering?

Platform Engineering is a new trend that aims to modernize enterprise software delivery. Platform engineering implements reusable tools and self-service capabilities with automated infrastructure workflows that improve developer experience and productivity. Initial platform engineering efforts often start with internal developer platforms (IDPs).

Platform Engineering helps make software creation and delivery faster and easier by providing unified tools, workflows, and technical foundations. It's like a well-organized toolkit and workshop for software developers to get their work done more efficiently and without unnecessary obstacles.

Webinar - Platform Engineering: AWS Account Creation with Developer Self-Service (Jira Service Management)

What is Platform Engineering used for?

The ideal development platform for one company may be completely unusable for another. Even within the same company, different development teams may have very different requirements.

The main goal of a technology platform is to increase developer productivity. At the enterprise level, such platforms promote consistency and efficiency. For developers, they provide significant relief in dealing with delivery pipelines and low-level infrastructure.

What is an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)?

Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs), also known as Developer Self-Service Platforms, are systems set up within organizations to accelerate and simplify the software development process. They provide developers with a centralized, standardized, and automated environment in which to write, test, deploy, and manage code.

IDPs provide a set of tools, features, and processes. The goal is to provide developers with a smooth self-service experience that offers the right features to help developers and others produce valuable software with as little effort as possible.

How is Platform Engineering different from Internal Developer Platform?

Platform Engineering is the overarching area that deals with the creation and management of software platforms. Within Platform Engineering, Integrated Development Platforms (IDPs) are developed as specific tools or platforms. These offer developers self-service and automation functions.

What is Developer Self-Service?

Developer Self-Service is a concept that enables developers to create and manage the resources and environments they need themselves, without having to wait for support from operations teams or other departments. This increases efficiency, reduces wait times, and increases productivity through self-service and faster access to resources. This means developers don't have to wait for others to get what they need and can get their work done faster.

How do IDPs help with this?

Think of Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) as a well-organized supermarket where everything is easy to find. IDPs provide all the tools and services necessary for developers to get their jobs done without much hassle. They are, so to speak, the place where self-service takes place.

The transition to platform engineering

When a company moves from IDPs to Platform Engineering, it's like making the leap from a small local store to a large purchasing center. Platform Engineering offers a broader range of services and greater automation. It helps companies further streamline and scale their development processes.

By moving to Platform Engineering, companies can make their development processes more efficient, improve collaboration, and ultimately bring better products to market faster. The first step with IDPs and Developer Self-Service lays the foundation to achieve this higher level of efficiency and automation.

Challenges that can be solved with platform engineering

Scalability & Standardization

In growing companies, as well as large and established ones, the number of IT projects and teams can grow rapidly. Traditional development practices can make it difficult to scale the development environment and keep everyone homogeneous. As IT projects or applications continue to grow, there are differences in setup and configuration, security and compliance standards, and an overview of which user has access to what.

Platform Engineering enables greater scalability by introducing automation and standardized processes that make it easier to handle a growing number of projects and application developments.

Efficiency and productivity

Delays in developing and building infrastructure can be caused by manual processes and dependencies between teams, increasing the time to market for applications. Platform Engineering helps overcome these challenges by providing self-service capabilities and automation that enable teams to work faster and more independently.

Security & Compliance

Security concerns are central to any development process. Through platform engineering, we standardize and integrate security and compliance standards into the development process and IT infrastructure in advance, enabling consistent security auditing and management.

Consistency and standardization

Different teams and projects might use different tools and practices, which can lead to inconsistencies. Platform engineering promotes standardization by providing a common platform with consistent tools and processes that can be used by everyone.

Innovation and experimentation

The ability to quickly test and iterate on new ideas is critical to a company's ability to innovate. Platform Engineering provides an environment that encourages experimentation and rapid iteration by efficiently providing the necessary infrastructure and tools.

Cost control

Optimizing and automating development processes can reduce operating costs. Platform Engineering provides the tools and practices to use resources efficiently and thus reduce the total cost of development.

Real-world example: IDP and Developer Self-Service with Jira Service Management and AWS

One way to start with platform engineering is for example Jira Service Management as a developer self-service to set up AWS cloud infrastructure in an automated and secure way and to provide templates for developers and cloud engineers in a wiki.

How does it work?

Developer self-service for automatic AWS account creation with Jira service management

Jira Service Management Developer Self-Service

Using Jira Service Management, one of our customers provides a self-service that allows developers to set up an AWS organization account automatically and securely. This works with a simple portal and a service request form where the user has to provide information like name, function, account type, security and technical responsible and approving manager.

The account is then created on AWS in the backend using Python scripts in a build pipeline. During setup, all security and compliance relevant standards are already integrated and the JSM self-service is linked to the company's Active Directory. Due to the deep integration with all relevant systems of the company, it is possible to explicitly track who has access to what. This also facilitates the control of accesses and existing accounts in retrospect.

The result: The time required to create AWS organization accounts is reduced to less than an hour (from several weeks) with the help of JSM, enabling IT teams to publish, test and update their products faster. It also provides visibility into which and how many accounts already exist and for which product, making it easier to control the cost of cloud infrastructure on AWS.

Confluence Cloud as a knowledge database for IT teams

Of course, developer self-service is only a small part of platform engineering. IT teams need concrete tools and apps tailored to their needs.

One of these tools is a knowledgebase where IT teams, from developers to cloud engineers, can find relevant information such as templates that make their work easier and faster.

We have built a knowledge database with Confluence at our customer that provides a wide variety of templates, courses, best practices, and important information about processes. This knowledge database enables all relevant stakeholders to obtain important information and further training at any time.

Webinar - The First Step in Platform Engineering with a Developer Self-Service and JSM

After discussing the challenges and solutions that Platform Engineering brings, it is important to put these concepts into practice and explore them further. A great opportunity to learn more about the practical application of Platform Engineering is an upcoming webinar. This webinar will put a special focus on automating AWS infrastructure creation using Jira Service Management and Developer Self-Service. In addition, ess will feature a live demo with our DevOps experts.

Webinar - Platform Engineering: AWS Account Creation with Developer Self-Service (Jira Service Management)

Conclusion

The journey from Internal Developer Platforms to Platform Engineering is a progressive step that helps organizations optimize their development processes. By leveraging a Developer Self-Service and overcoming software development challenges, Platform Engineering paves the way for more efficient and innovative development practices. With practical resources like the featured webinar, interested parties can dive deeper into this topic. And also gain valuable insights into how to effectively implement Platform Engineering.