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How platform teams lead to better, faster, stronger enterprises

Modernization has become table stakes for organizations, but transitioning to the cloud requires a brand new technology stack. More and more, IT leaders are turning to cloud and Kubernetes technologies to help developers and operations teams deploy, manage and scale applications more easily. However, the growing complexity of modern application development poses significant challenges for developers and operations or SRE (site reliability engineering) teams — from keeping pace with rapid technological advancements and integrations to handling the multitude of tools and supporting services essential for building, deploying and managing modern applications. This is further complicated by infrastructure dependencies and manual processes, placing additional strain on the teams. In fact, one in four organizations take three months or longer just to deploy an application.

Enter platform engineering teams, formed to play a pivotal role in centralizing efforts and managing the complexities of modern application development. According to Forrester, more than three-quarters of high-performing organizations are adopting platform teams. Organizations today rely on platform teams to eliminate the complexities of the modern software landscape, thus speeding digital transformation, fostering a culture of innovation and efficiency, and ultimately leading to better, faster, stronger enterprises.

Quarterbacks of innovation

Many organizations now recognize platform teams as the quarterbacks of innovation, suited best to abstract complexity, identify the best path to efficiency, and create a much needed springboard towards cloud and Kubernetes adoption. Platform teams are uniquely equipped to optimize resource allocation because they sit in between developers and the cloud infrastructure and compute that developers need, and are able to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of software development processes.

With their unique set of skills and expertise, they effectively collaborate with other teams, including developers, data scientists, and operations teams, to accurately understand their needs and pain points. Using a product approach, platform teams remove barriers for developers and operations teams by offering shared services for developer self-service, enabling faster modernization within organizational boundaries and automation to simplify the management of applications and Kubernetes clusters in the cloud.

Fostering a culture of innovation, platform teams play a crucial role in keeping the organization at the forefront of emerging trends and technologies. This enables enterprises to provide innovative solutions that set them apart in the market. How? 

They operationalize and optimize internal tools and workflows to abstract the complexity of Kubernetes away from developers, reducing the manual steps and cognitive load on developer and application teams. 

They incorporate best practices and security measures into their workflows, removing the need for developers to be Kubernetes and cloud experts. 

By continuously refining and optimizing the application development process and cloud infrastructure, platform teams also enable continuous improvement within the organization, driving efficiency gains and cost savings while simultaneously fostering a mindset of agility and adaptability.

Platform team playbook

Platform teams help manage the needs of developers and operations teams to maintain efficient development workflows. Gartner predicts that 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams by 2026 — and that 75% of those will include developer self-service portals. 

Self-service tools provided by platform teams give developers the autonomy to provision and quickly use cloud environments (including Kubernetes clusters) through curated environment and Kubernetes clusters blueprints. By eliminating administrative bottlenecks and complex setup processes, this reduces time-to-market for new applications and allows developers to focus their efforts on innovation and product development rather than infrastructure management. 

Here are five examples of common development challenges enterprises face and how platform teams alleviate these pain points:

Challenge: Maintaining consistency in cloud environments and Kubernetes clusters is difficult, resulting in increased support needs and costs. This inherent complexity can easily lead to errors, policy violations, regulatory issues, increased downtime, and decreased application reliability.

Solution: Platform teams set standard configurations for cloud environments and Kubernetes clusters that can be implemented (and enforced) across the entire organization. 

Challenge: Unauthorized access makes Kubernetes environments vulnerable to security threats. Implementing and maintaining a robust security framework for Kubernetes infrastructure is complex because it requires a deep understanding of Kubernetes’ architecture and security mechanisms. 

Solution: Platform teams facilitate secure Kubernetes environments by integrating the organization’s Kubernetes clusters with a corporate identity provider. This enables identity-driven, role-based secure access and implements user-level auditing for the entire organization, only granting access to any necessary developers and operations team members.

Challenge: Kubernetes infrastructure costs can come with surprise bills. Almost all enterprises are overspending in the cloud, and Kubernetes resource consumption can contribute to this if it’s not managed effectively.

Solution: Platform teams responsible for cost management can establish FinOps processes, providing enterprises with real-time visibility into Kubernetes and cloud spend. They can analyze, allocate and define cost boundaries for each team to stay on budget. Platform teams can also prevent cloud waste by providing application teams the ability to correctly allocate and even resize resources for their applications.

Challenge: Enabling efficient experimentation with generative AI.

Solution: Platform teams can help companies efficiently experiment with generative AI by providing scalable infrastructure and robust tooling, enabling quick deployment and iteration of large language models. They can also streamline workflows through automation and integration, ensuring seamless collaboration between data scientists and engineers.

Challenge: Excessive ticket volumes lead to delays in application deployments and IT bottlenecks. Kubernetes has the power to accelerate innovation, but teams need the autonomy to move fast, safely.

Solution: With a self-service approach, developers can achieve more without relying on manual intervention. By curating a set of pre-approved environments, platform teams can empower developers with a self-service experience to deploy and manage the application life cycle efficiently and securely. 

Platform teams have emerged as critical enablers of innovation and efficiency in modern organizations because of their ability to provide a solid foundation for the development, deployment, and scaling of new technologies. These teams help their organizations bring innovative solutions to market more quickly by providing the framework necessary to handle increased workloads and accommodate business growth. Organizations with established platform teams empower their internal and downstream application teams to leapfrog towards cloud and Kubernetes adoption without the burden of steep learning curves. At the same time, they give developers and data scientists self-service capabilities that allow them to focus on what they do best — rapidly deliver new application capabilities to customers.

Mohan Atreya is chief product officer at Rafay Systems.

New Tech Forum provides a venue for technology leaders—including vendors and other outside contributors—to explore and discuss emerging enterprise technology in unprecedented depth and breadth. The selection is subjective, based on our pick of the technologies we believe to be important and of greatest interest to InfoWorld readers. InfoWorld does not accept marketing collateral for publication and reserves the right to edit all contributed content. Send all inquiries to [email protected]

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