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Platform Engineering: Key to Mastering the 3 Most Common DevOps Challenges

Discover how Platform Engineering addresses the top DevOps objectives: enhancing automation, streamlining tools, and breaking down silos for improved efficiency.

Kenn Hussey, VP of Engineering
March 28, 2024 | 9 min read

DevOps has revolutionized software development and deployment, but as the complexity of modern cloud-native technologies increases, it has become evident that the current approach has limitations and inefficiencies. As a technology leader myself, it’s become increasingly clear to me that the traditional role of DevOps may not survive in the future if we can’t overcome our current challenges and struggles to automate.

I believe DevOps leaders need to get on board with the latest evolution of DevOps to adapt and overcome some of these challenges in order to keep pace with ever-changing technology demands. The answer is here, and it starts with platform engineering.

Challenge #1- Too Little Automation

One of the core challenges we face is the lack of automation in end-to-end DevOps processes. Studies have shown that only 56% of these processes are automated, leading to slower delivery times and reduced efficiency.

While DevOps has brought about tremendous improvements in software development and deployment, the increasing complexity of modern cloud-native technologies has placed unprecedented pressure on DevOps teams. As companies scale and the demand for faster delivery increases, the limitations and inefficiencies of manual processes have become more evident.

Manual interventions, such as approvals and security checks, further prolong resolution times and impact our bottom line and customer satisfaction. Manual interventions introduce delays and bottlenecks in the delivery process. Each manual intervention requires human attention, which not only consumes time but also increases the likelihood of errors or miscommunication. These manual steps can significantly impact the overall efficiency and speed of software delivery.

The lack of automation also affects the scalability and flexibility of DevOps practices. As organizations grow and demand increases, manual processes become increasingly difficult to scale. Manual interventions and repetitive tasks become a burden on teams, limiting their ability to handle larger workloads efficiently. Automation allows for the seamless scaling of processes, enabling teams to meet growing demands without sacrificing quality or speed.

Challenge #2- Too Many Tools

One of the reasons for this lack of automation is the complexity of the toolchain used in DevOps. The DevOps ecosystem offers a plethora of tools and technologies, each serving a specific purpose. While this diversity is beneficial in providing specialized functionalities, it can also lead to a fragmented and difficult-to-manage environment.

Integrating and maintaining a cohesive DevOps workflow becomes challenging when teams have to navigate through multiple tools and ensure their compatibility. This complexity hinders the adoption of automation as teams struggle to automate processes across various tools effectively.

Challenge #3- A Surplus of Siloed Teams

Additionally, siloed teams hinder collaboration and communication, leading to misalignments, duplicated efforts, and slower problem resolution. Siloed teams in DevOps present a significant challenge for organizations striving to achieve seamless collaboration and efficient software delivery. Silos refer to isolated groups or departments within an organization that operate independently, often with limited communication and visibility into each other's processes. In the context of DevOps, siloed teams hinder the adoption and effectiveness of DevOps practices, leading to inefficiencies and slower problem resolution.

One of the primary challenges of siloed teams in DevOps is the lack of collaboration and communication. DevOps emphasizes the integration and collaboration of development, operations, and other relevant teams to ensure a smooth and continuous software delivery process. However, when teams operate in silos, they often work in isolation, with limited understanding of each other's roles, responsibilities, and processes. This lack of collaboration can lead to misalignments, duplicated efforts, and slower problem-resolution times.

Without effective collaboration, siloed teams struggle to share knowledge and insights, hindering the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the DevOps workflow. For example, development teams may not have visibility into the operational challenges and requirements, leading to the deployment of applications that are not optimized for production environments. Similarly, operations teams may not have a clear understanding of the development process, resulting in difficulties in managing and maintaining the deployed applications.

The Solution: Platform Engineering

So, what could be a solution to these common DevOps challenges? Could there ever even be such a strong contender? Indeed–that’s where platform engineering comes in. And before you come for me and tell me it’s all buzz–hear me out.

We must turn to platform engineering to overcome these challenges and improve our software delivery processes. Platform engineering is a modern approach that works in tandem with DevOps principles to streamline and optimize our workflows. By developing an internal developer platform (IDP), platform engineers can simplify and improve the effectiveness of standard DevOps activities.

A platform engineering team must have clearly defined product goals, established DevOps procedures, and the right mindset to reach its full potential. This team will play a significant role in driving software development and delivery as we progress in the digital transformation age.

Platforms enable DevOps at scale by providing standardized and streamlined software development and deployment approaches. They automate infrastructure and deployment processes, reducing manual intervention. Self-service platforms empower developers to access the tools and resources they need without relying on other teams or waiting for approvals. By streamlining processes and automating tasks, platform engineering helps organizations deliver software faster, improve scalability and resilience, and foster collaboration among teams.

To optimize DevOps efficiency, platform teams can automate Git repositories, provision test environments, build configuration templates for CI/CD pipelines, configure central repositories for secret management and application performance monitoring, and more. By creating a standardized, self-service platform, platform teams simplify the development process and reduce the burden on individual teams. They establish paved roads for common development tasks, making processes simpler and reducing the risk of errors. Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics allows platform teams to identify areas for improvement and optimize DevOps efficiency.

The Future of DevOps

The future of DevOps lies in embracing platform engineering. It is the next step in our journey to remain competitive in today's rapidly changing landscape. Platform engineering optimizes workflows, enables faster software updates through self-service capabilities and automated pipelines, and ultimately shapes how teams collaborate and streamline software delivery.

As a DevOps leader, I truly believe that transitioning from traditional siloed practices to platform engineering is the way forward to holistically combat all of our common challenges. It is our opportunity to adapt and thrive in the rapidly evolving digital world. Let us embrace platform engineering and harness its potential to drive success in our DevOps journey. It’s time to sink or swim– and with a platform to float on it sure makes that journey a lot easier!

For more insights, check out our Livin On the Edge podcast, which dives deep into some of the topics mentioned in this blog.