What's an Internal Developer Platform?
Internal Developer Platform is a trendy concept in the Platform Engineering world that solves clear problems you might have already faced. In this article, I will define what's an Internal Developer Platform, and I assume you're at least familiar with concepts like DevOps and Platform Engineering, but don't worry - I won't assume too much. The goal is to ensure we're all on the same page when discussing Internal Developer Platforms. So let's go :)
Romaric PhilogèneDecember 23, 2023 · 3 min read
An Internal Developer Platform is an ecosystem that empowers developers to autonomously manage the entire application lifecycle from development to deployment. It emerged in response to the inefficiencies and interdependencies observed when engineering teams heavily relied on IT and DevOps for application deployment and management.
By offering a comprehensive suite of tools and services, Internal Developer Platforms enable developers to independently configure, deploy, and maintain applications, significantly enhancing efficiency and productivity.
Before the advent of Internal Developer Platforms, the software development process was often crippled by delays and inefficiencies. Developers depended on external teams (IT department / DevOps engineers / SRE... it depends on the organization. I will not get into the debate here) for crucial aspects of their workflow, leading to a slower pace of development, inconsistent environments, and limited autonomy.
Internal Developer Platforms have revolutionized this landscape by providing a streamlined, integrated environment that minimizes dependencies and fosters a more agile and responsive development process.
An Internal Developer Platform seamlessly integrates into the traditional DevOps and engineering stack, acting as a unifying layer that enhances and streamlines existing processes. It fits into this ecosystem by providing a centralized platform where various tools and services used in software development, deployment, and management converge. This integration allows for more efficient workflows, better resource management, and a smoother transition from development to production. By bridging the gaps between coding, testing, deployment, and infrastructure management, an Internal Developer Platform elevates the traditional stack, making it more cohesive, agile, and developer-friendly.
For developers, Internal Developer Platforms are a game-changer, enabling them to:
- Gain Autonomy: Manage projects independently, reducing bottlenecks.
- Enhance Productivity: Streamline deployment processes for faster delivery.
- Accelerate Innovation: Encourage creativity and experimentation in a flexible environment.
Platform engineers turn to Internal Developer Platforms for several reasons:
- Standardization: Ensuring uniform processes and tools across projects.
- Enhanced Security and Compliance: Through features like RBAC and audit logs.
- Operational Efficiency: Automating routine tasks to focus on strategic areas.
- Scalability: Offering adaptable solutions that grow with the organization.
Something important to understand is that Internal Developer Platforms and Internal Developer Portals are different concepts (often used together, which can be confusing).
While Internal Developer Platforms offer comprehensive tools for managing the application lifecycle, Internal Developer Portals primarily focus on knowledge sharing and documentation. This distinction highlights Internal Developer Platforms' role in providing practical, hands-on capabilities beyond information dissemination.
So, to get back to our main subject, let's explain the why.
In this article, I've deliberately chosen not to use the abbreviation 'IDP' to refer to Internal Developer Platforms. The reason is simple yet crucial: in our tech space, 'IDP' can signify multiple things, leading to potential confusion. For Platform Engineers, 'IDP' might equally stand for Internal Developer Platform and Internal Developer Portal. To avoid any ambiguity and ensure clarity in our discussion, I've opted to spell out 'Internal Developer Platform' in full. This approach helps maintain clear communication, especially in a field where precise terminology is key.
Internal Developer Platforms mark a significant advancement in software development, fostering efficiency, collaboration, and innovation. As we continue to delve into the world of Platform Engineering, Internal Developer Platforms stand as essential tools, transforming the way we develop, deploy, and manage software in the modern era.