Have you ever wondered how large companies can develop multiple products so quickly with seamless scalability, resiliency, and availability? One solution to this challenge is building a dedicated platform team. Platform engineering is not a new concept, but it has recently gained traction as it accelerates software delivery.
What is platform engineering?
Platform engineering involves building core, reusable technology services with seamless scalability, resiliency, and availability that can be used by other product and analytics teams. These services help provide a unified customer experience across all products.
Platform engineers are typically software engineers who prefer to work on large, complex problems that are common throughout the organization. Instead of solving the same problems repeatedly across different product teams, it’s more efficient to create a dedicated team to solve the problem and make the solution available for all products within the organization.
Why build platform services?
For any multi-product company, there are various capabilities like collaboration and emails that each of their products must offer. Building these capabilities repeatedly for each product is not only time-consuming but also requires constant effort from individual product teams to scale and maintain them. This can lead to the waste of company resources.
A platform team can solve these problems efficiently. Platform services are scalable and resilient, and building such solutions takes time. With a platform team in place, these solutions can be built once and reused across multiple products.
For example, let’s consider multiple products company with 10 products that require notifications and email functionality. If each product team builds these functionalities independently, it will take significant time and resources, and it will be challenging to scale and maintain them. Instead, it makes more sense to create a dedicated platform for each use case.
Common Use Cases Addressed by Platform Engineering:
The challenges solved by platform engineering vary depending on the company. However, some common use cases that can be addressed by platform teams include:
AI/ML Platform: The platform can provide Predictive AI features out-of-the-box for analytics, including Forecasting, Anomaly Detection, Sentiment Analysis, Business Insights, and Configurable Alerts through various channels.
Product Analytics: The platform can offer real-time dashboards and retrospective analytics capabilities.
Collaboration: Modern companies use various tools for collaboration, such as Slack, Teams for enterprise messaging, WebEx, Zoom for web/video conferencing, and G Suite for collaborating on documents. A dedicated platform team can manage these tools.
Email Platform: The platform can provide email services, anti-spam, and anti-virus services.
Scheduler Service: Every product requires scheduling tasks.
Audit Log: Every product needs to capture activities for different entities and use them to display a timeline. This platform can help persist activity trails in a chronological sense.
Message Queues: Message queues are crucial for any reliable application.
Search Ecosystem: The platform team can manage search complexities.
API Gateway and Rate Limiting: It’s important to understand the API traffic and control it.
Sign-Up: Dedicated sign-up platforms can help provide a unified experience for customers.
These are just a few examples of the platform services that can be provided. There could be many others depending on the specific needs of each company.
What exactly platform team provides?
Platform teams offer a range of components such as APIs, tools, services, knowledge, and support to help stakeholders achieve their desired outcomes. These components work together to provide a seamless experience and allow internal teams to build faster solutions for ever-changing business requirements. As a result, platform engineering teams play a critical role in ensuring that companies can quickly adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Who Use Platform Services:
Internal Products: The primary users of platform services are internal teams who use them to quickly create solutions for evolving business needs.
Analytics Team: Platform teams have access to a vast amount of data from different sources, making them an excellent resource for data analysis and data scientists.
External Products: If the platform services offer solutions to the problems faced by other organizations, they can also be provided as services to external products. Freshworks Neo is one such platform.
Features of Platform Services:
- Clear Boundaries: Platform services have well-defined boundaries, involving multiple teams and stakeholders such as developers, operations, and business units. This helps them understand their roles and responsibilities better.
- Designed for Scalability and Resilience: Platforms are created to handle large volumes of traffic and transactions while ensuring high levels of uptime. Factors such as load balancing, redundancy, fault tolerance, and disaster recovery are taken into account when designing the platform.
- Automation is Key: Automating deployment, testing, and management processes can reduce errors, increase delivery speed, and improve reliability. Tools such as Jenkins, Ansible, and Terraform can automate different aspects of platform engineering.
- Simple Self-Help Guides: The platform provides self-help guides that are straightforward and easy to understand. This helps every stakeholder and team adopt the platform services for their use cases.
- Strong Security Measures: Security is critical in platform engineering and should be considered at every stage of the development and deployment lifecycle. This includes implementing secure coding practices, regularly testing for vulnerabilities, and monitoring for suspicious activity.
In conclusion, a platform team can be a valuable asset to a company, providing various services, tools, and support to internal and external stakeholders. By defining clear boundaries, building for scalability and resilience, automating wherever possible, providing simple self-help guides, and implementing strong security measures, platform teams can ensure that their services are effective and reliable. By utilizing platform services, companies can build faster solutions and make better use of their data, ultimately improving their overall efficiency and competitiveness.
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