Platform Engineering or DevOps: Your Organisation’s Best Fit?

Senna Semakula-Buuza
5 min readMar 14, 2024

What is Platform Engineering?

Platform engineering is a new idea that revolves around creating and managing platforms that developers use to run their applications. It provides a steady, reliable, and efficient platform that empowers developers to focus on coding without worrying about the fundamental framework.

This type of engineering is often considered a subset of DevOps but has unique characteristics and responsibilities. While DevOps focuses on the complete software development lifecycle, platform engineering is principally concerned with the platform that hosts the applications.

Moreover, platform engineering is the evolution from DevOps engineering, as it extends the principles of collaboration and automation to a broader scale. It also includes creating and maintaining the platform and ensuring its adaptability and reliability. It also includes setting up the necessary tools and technologies developers need to build, test, and deploy their applications. This incorporates everything from databases and servers to containers and orchestration tools.

What is DevOps?

DevOps combines the terms ‘development’ and ‘operations.’ It is a cultural change in the innovative sector that aims to overcome issues between development and operations teams. The primary objective of DevOps is to shorten the system development lifecycle while frequently providing features, fixes, and updates in close alignment with business goals.

The idea of DevOps started from the requirement for faster, more efficient development and deployment of software applications. Indeed, the development and operation teams worked in silos, creating setbacks and miscommunication. Moreover, DevOps encourages these teams to cooperate, fostering a culture of shared responsibility, consistent correspondence, and fast feedback.

When Organisations Should Adopt Platform Engineering And DevOps Engineering?

Organisations should adopt platform engineering when they need to scale their infrastructure, standardise deployment processes across multiple teams or projects, and ensure consistency and reliability in their software delivery pipelines. It is especially valuable for large scale or complex environments where managing infrastructure and tooling turns out to be progressively challenging as the organisation develops.

On the other hand, organisations should adopt DevOps engineering when they intend to improve collaboration and integration between development and operation teams, streamline software delivery pipelines, and speed up time-to-market for applications. Indeed, it is great for environments where rapid iteration and frequent deliveries are fundamental to stay competitive.

Benefits of Platform Engineering

The most remarkable benefit of platform engineering is the reduction of operational intricacy. By providing a perfect platform for deployment, platform engineering fundamentally reduces the complexity of dealing with numerous environments.

Another critical advantage of platform engineering is improved developer productivity. With a steady, reliable platform, developers can focus exclusively on coding without stressing over the underlying infrastructure, prompting quicker development cycles and more quality code.

Finally, platform engineering prompts better resource usage. By standardising the platform, organisations can utilise their resources, leading to cost savings and further developed productivity.

Benefits of DevOps

One of the primary benefits of DevOps is enhanced deployment frequency. Since the development and operations teams work intently together, they can rapidly recognise and determine issues, prompting faster deployment.

Another significant advantage of DevOps is the development of joint effort and communication. By breaking down the silos between the development and operation teams, DevOps fosters a culture of transparency and shared liability. This further improves efficiency and enhances the overall quality of software.

Further, DevOps also contributes to reduced marketing time. With quicker development cycles and efficient processes, organisations can deliver their products to the market faster. This gives them a competitive edge and assists them in responding more perfectly to changing market dynamics.

Which is Right for Your Organisation?

Choosing between platform engineering and DevOps can be challenging. So, follow the below guide that can help to make an informed decision for your organisation:

Primary Focus

Platform engineering focuses on creating a steady, versatile platform that can host different applications. Platform engineers aim to guarantee that the development platform is resilient, reliable, and can deal with the various applications deployed on it. They focus on establishing a normalised environment, reducing the fluctuation between development and production, and providing facilities to the developers.

DevOps is about coordinated effort and integration between development and operations teams. DevOps engineers primarily focus on overcoming issues between these two generally solid groups, encouraging better communication and coordinated effort. They strive to automate processes, execute consistent integration and deployment, and monitor framework performance to guarantee a smooth, streamlined software development lifecycle.

Requirements

Platform engineering requires a profound comprehension of system architecture, cloud computing, and software development. It’s essential to have a firm grasp of programming languages, database management, and networking. Besides, figuring out the standards of unwavering quality, versatility, and security is vital in this role.

DevOps requires an extraordinary blend of skills. It demands skill in coding, scripting, and automation tools and a thorough comprehension of IT tasks. A DevOps specialist should be able to code, test, and deploy applications, manage infrastructure and operations, and collaborate successfully with various teams.

Tools

Platform engineers often use tools like Kubernetes, Docker, ArgoCD, and OpenShift for container orchestration, Terraform for the infrastructure as code, and Grafana, Prometheus, or comparative tools for checking and observability. These tools help create, manage, and operate the platform. Developers get a friendly overview of the entire platform with a developer portal, such as Port, Backstage, Cortex, etc.

However, DevOps uses a comprehensive array of tools across the entire software development lifecycle. From coding tools like Git and Codefresh for CI/CD to Puppet, Ansible, and Chef for configuration management to Nagios and Splunk for observing and logging, DevOps tools focus on automating and streamlining each part of the development and operations processes.

Teams

In platform engineering, the group or team is composed of platform engineers, solution architects, and experienced engineers. Platform engineers work closely with developers, providing a steady, standardised environment where they can deploy their applications without stressing over the basic infrastructure.

DevOps teams are composed of development and operations professionals. They include designers, operation engineers, QA analysers, and security specialists. The objective of a DevOps team is to encourage coordinated effort and streamline the entire development lifecycle.

Conclusion

In short, an organisation’s choice between platform engineering and DevOps depends on various elements, including its sise, construction, objectives, and existing technological landscape. Platform Engineers offer an organised way to build and manage robust, scalable platforms tailored to explicit business needs, encouraging consistency and proficiency across development processes.

However, DevOps advances a cultural shift towards cooperation, automation, and continuous improvement, focusing on agility and development inside cross-functional groups or teams. While the two methodologies have particular merits, the ideal decision relies upon the organisation’s needs and preparation for change.

Ultimately, successful implementation requires a nuanced understanding of the organisation’s unique requirements and a commitment to fostering a culture of flexibility and consistent learning.

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