Mathew Dawe
03 Aug. 2023

DevOps

From chaos to control: unleashing the potential of platform engineering

As we’ve seen with DevOps over the last decade, what is old is new again, including Platform Engineering. Although its rise has been accelerated by Cloud computing, Platform Engineering has been around for decades, hailing from a time when computer systems were large and required specialised teams and individuals to manage them.

While we are on the topic of large and complex things, and with LLMs (large language models) being all the rage right now, let’s ask ChatGPT for a definition of Platform Engineering:

“Platform engineering is the practice of designing, building, and maintaining the core infrastructure and software platforms that enable an organisation’s products or services. Platform engineers are responsible for creating a robust, scalable, and secure platform that can support the company’s business goals.”

Glad to see we agree.

Well-designed platforms enable businesses to try out new ideas quickly and gain much needed customer feedback, all the while knowing they are meeting their BAU operating requirements in a secure and resilient way with customer concerns front of mind.

But, as the computing landscape continues to rapidly evolve, businesses are confronted with new challenges. Managing the complexity of distributed systems, and ensuring that workloads are secure, compliant, resilient, scalable, and performant makes adapting to the demands of modern architectures and design patterns essential for any business who wants to lead the pack. With the rise of ransomware and theft of customer data (especially PII data,) it’s crucial that all businesses practise defence or security in depth to keep their systems resilient and secure from the ground up.

Security is where Platform Engineering offers the biggest gains

Effective platform engineering offers several key security benefits:

  1. Centralised Security Management: through designing and maintaining a well-architected platform, organisations can establish consistent security controls, policies, and access management mechanisms across their applications and infrastructure, helping to mitigate risk from inconsistent or ad-hoc security practices.
  2. Enhanced Threat Detection and Response: a robust platform engineering approach includes comprehensive monitoring and logging mechanisms. These allow for real-time detection of (and proactive response to) security incidents, anomalous behaviour, and potential breaches.
  3. Compliance and Regulatory Alignment: by designing platforms with security and privacy considerations in mind, organisations can more easily meet compliance standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties and helping to build trust with customers and partners.
  4. Rapid Response to Security Updates: thanks to streamlining the update process, organisations can rapidly address known security vulnerabilities and protect their systems from potential threats.
  5. Scalable Security Solutions: as companies expand their infrastructure and deploy new applications, platform engineers can design security architectures that will scale seamlessly, ensuring security measures remain effective and aligned with the evolving threat landscape.

Basically, platform engineering affords businesses a holistic and proactive approach to security, strengthens their security posture, helps them comply with regulations, and mitigates the risk of security breaches.

But wait! There’s more… to Platform Engineering than choosing a cloud hosted Kubernetes provider

As a multidisciplinary field requiring broad expertise, it’s safe to say choosing a provider is but one piece of the platform engineering puzzle.

You’ll also need to consider:

  1. Architecture Design: including defining the network architecture, storage solutions, security models, and scalability considerations.
  2. Automation and Orchestration: this involves setting up CI/CD pipelines, implementing infrastructure-as-code (IaC) practices, and using tools like Ansible, Terraform, or CloudFormation.
  3. Observability and Monitoring: you’ll need logging, metrics, and tracing mechanisms to gain insights into the system’s performance and troubleshoot issues effectively.
  4. Performance Optimisation: tuning resource allocation, load balancing, caching mechanisms, and optimizing database queries, as well as capacity planning to ensure the platform can handle expected workloads.
  5. Security and Compliance: including setting up authentication and authorization mechanisms, managing secrets and access controls, and conducting regular security audits.
  6. Incident Response and Disaster Recovery: engineers establish backup and restore processes, perform periodic disaster recovery drills, and ensure business continuity in case of disruptions.
  7. Collaboration and Communication: platform engineers must facilitate collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing across different teams and help foster a DevOps culture.
  8. Continuous Improvement: identifying areas for improvement, and implementing optimisations means staying up to date on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the field of platform engineering.

Building solid foundations for your success

In summary, Platform Engineering is crucial in today’s fast-changing technology world. Done correctly, it creates strong and secure platforms that can grow and adapt, transforming your business into a fortress of security, scalability, and innovation.

By defining and leading delivery of platforms and strategies tailored to your organisation’s needs, we enable self-service, reduction in tech debt and rework, standardisation of common functions and processes, all with a reduction in delivery cost while producing a quality outcome.

At 460degrees we are passionate about making a meaningful difference for our customers and Platform Engineering is in our DNA. We advocate for best practices and principles in everything we do and, with a long history of professional services in the Information Technology landscape, we have the Experts and the know-how to help ensure that your platform not only enables your business goals but sets it up for success in years to come.

If you are interested in how 460degrees can help you achieve your goals, please reach out to us today.

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