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9 key components of an internal developer platform

The constantly evolving landscape of software development brings both opportunities and challenges. While innovation simplifies work processes, it also introduces many new tools and services that developers must manage, increasing cognitive load. Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) aim to address this challenge by providing a unified point of access and interaction, simplifying the utilization of tools and services. 

In this article, we will explore the nine components that we believe are essential in an Internal Developer Platform. By understanding these components, organizations can compare and evaluate their Platform Engineering practices for improved efficiency and productivity.

9 essential components of an internal developer platform:

Before delving into the components, it’s important to note that the following 9 components do not encompass all the capabilities of an IDP. The order in which they are presented does not reflect their relative importance, and the selection is based on article length rather than universal significance. However, these components have proven crucial in most cases and provide a solid foundation for building an effective Internal Developer Platform.

1. Pipelines: automating code validation and release

Managing code pipelines is a critical aspect of software development. After versioning the code, developers must automate the validation and release processes. Various tools such as Azure Pipeline, GitHub Actions, GitLab CI Runner, and Jenkins assist in pipeline management, enabling efficient code validation and release automation.

2. Artifact repository: versioning and governance

Artifact management is vital for governance, security, and efficient fallback options. Storing versioned, compiled, and containerized artifacts ensures code availability and facilitates quick recovery in case of downtime. Tools like containerd, CRI-O, Docker Engine, Dragonfly, Harbor, and Nexus aid in versioning and managing containerized artifacts.

3. Runtime: orchestrating applications

The runtime phase encompasses critical aspects such as security, permission management, and networking. Kubernetes, a widely adopted container orchestration tool, provides comprehensive capabilities for scaling the runtime, including autoscaling, self-healing, and load balancing. Other tools like Rönd, Cilium, and Falco contribute to security, networking, and protecting APIs within containerized environments.

4. API Gateway / Service Proxy: Enabling communication

API Gateways facilitate communication between products and services and the external world. Additionally, Service Proxies can be implemented for similar purposes based on specific needs. Popular tools in this category include Gloo Edge, Emissary Ingress, Envoy, NGINX, and Traefik.

5. Monitoring: observability and log tracking

Monitoring and log tracking is vital for proactive issue resolution and service continuity. Monitoring tools collect metrics, display them in dedicated dashboards, and trigger alerts, enabling development teams to identify and resolve critical issues. Elasticsearch, Fluentd, Grafana, Kibana, and Prometheus are widely used tools for ensuring software observability.

6. FinOps and sustainability: managing cloud costs and sustainability

The disciplines of FinOps and sustainability are increasingly important in modern software development. FinOps focuses on managing cloud-related operations from a financial perspective, optimizing costs while driving sustainability. Tools like AWS Instance Scheduler, provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), allows users to schedule the start and stop times of their EC2 instances. By defining specific schedules, users can ensure that instances are only active during necessary periods, minimizing idle time and optimizing resource usage.

7. Data management: storing and handling data

Data management is essential for applications to function effectively. Relational and NoSQL databases serve as data storage solutions, with examples like MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB. Additionally, data stream systems like Confluent or Kafka collect and make data available in real time, while storage buckets such as Amazon S3 and Oracle Object Storage optimize data storage based on usage frequency.

8. Collaboration

IDPs foster collaboration by providing a centralized platform where developers, operations teams, and other stakeholders can collaborate effectively. The platform offers features such as shared documentation, communication channels, and collaboration tools, enabling seamless communication and knowledge sharing. By facilitating collaboration, IDPs promote cross-functional teamwork, reduce silos, and encourage a culture of collaboration and innovation.

9. Streamlined development processes

Internal Developer Platforms streamline development processes by automating repetitive and manual tasks. IDPs enable developers to automate build processes, testing, and deployment workflows through integration with various tools and services. This automation reduces human error, accelerates the development lifecycle, and ensures consistent and reliable software releases. Additionally, IDPs provide standardized templates and configurations, promoting best practices and ensuring project consistency. By streamlining development processes, IDPs improve efficiency, reduce time-to-market, and empower development teams to deliver high-quality software more rapidly.

Improving developer experience through internal developer platforms:

An Internal Developer Platform serves as a centralized solution, managing the entire software lifecycle and simplifying the work of developers. IDPs significantly enhance the Developer Experience (DX) by providing a single point of access, allowing developers to focus on code and new features. Automation and simplification of secondary activities, such as managing development tools, alleviate the cognitive load on developers, resulting in higher-quality software and increased productivity. This streamlined approach improves collaboration, accelerates time-to-market, and cultivates an environment of innovation within organizations.

Key takeaway

This article highlights seven essential components of an Internal Developer Platform for application software development. While these components cover critical capabilities, it’s important to acknowledge that IDPs can offer a broader range of functionalities. Moreover, platforms should be built with a modular perspective to easily integrate new tools and services as they emerge, enabling organizations to stay agile and adapt to evolving development practices effectively. By investing in an Internal Developer Platform, organizations can streamline software development, foster innovation, achieve business success, and empower their teams in the digital era.


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