What news from AWS re:Invent last week will have the most impact on you?
Amazon Q, an AI chatbot for explaining how AWS works.
Super-fast S3 Express storage.
New Graviton 4 processor instances.
Emily Freeman leaving AWS.
I don't use AWS, so none of this will affect me.
DevOps / Platform Engineering

Platform Engineering — Navigating Today, Forecasting Tomorrow

We're seeing some game-changing shifts in platform engineering, thanks to AI and automation.
Nov 6th, 2023 6:14am by
Featued image for: Platform Engineering — Navigating Today, Forecasting Tomorrow

Today’s software world craves fast, flawless updates. And with that ever-increasing appetite, platform engineering is becoming a cornerstone in the tech world, bridging traditional coding with today’s operational demands. As businesses increasingly lean toward customized platforms and the allure of no-code platforms becomes undeniable, the landscape is undeniably shifting. Add the recent breakthroughs in AI to the mix, and we see the potential for enhanced tools, efficient integrations and a streamlined development process.

Dive in with us as we unravel the intricacies and opportunities that lie ahead in platform engineering, and what it means for developers and organizations in the modern tech era.

Current State of Platform Engineering: A Closer Look

Platform engineering emerges as a radical shift in the world of software development and DevOps. It’s where traditional coding meets modern operational practices, aiming to keep pace with our ever-evolving tech scene. Here’s a quick dive into what’s shaking things up in platform engineering:

Early bird gets the worm — The shift-left approach: The idea is simple. Tackle tasks upfront in the development process. By catching potential issues early, we boost efficiency and save headaches down the line.

Walking the golden path: Imagine giving developers a roadmap through the software delivery life cycle, one that encourages freedom but within clear guidelines. That’s the essence of the “golden path.”

Why the Buzz around Platform Engineering?

  • Agility is king: Today’s digital world waits for no one. Platform engineering is stepping up, championing rapid, adaptive software rollouts.
  • Filling the expertise gap: The cloud world is vast and complex. Instead of relying heavily on specialized experts, platform engineering is about making things more intuitive for everyone involved.

Innovation on the Rise

  • Bespoke platforms: Many organizations now prefer tailor-made platforms, equipped with tools that developers can use independently. It’s all about empowering the team and streamlining work.
  • Mastering integration: With so many tools out there, integration can be a challenge. But now tools are evolving that are making it simpler, ensuring smoother, more collaborative workflows.

Platform engineering is steering the tech world toward a more adaptable and developer-centric future. It’s not just about the here and now; it’s about prepping for what’s next in the tech playbook.

Key Emerging Trends

Platform engineering, historically anchored in classic software development practices, is evolving rapidly in response to technological advancements. This transition is influenced by several emerging trends, shaping a more streamlined, efficient, and inclusive future for platform engineering.

  1. Rise of internal platforms: In an era where agility is paramount, many leading organizations are leaning into the creation of bespoke internal platforms. Going beyond mere tools, these platforms function as integrated ecosystems that are custom-fitted to an organization’s unique needs and workflows. Such tailored environments not only align perfectly with business objectives but also reduce developmental friction. A significant aspect of these platforms is their emphasis on self-service, providing developers the autonomy they need, from building to deployments to monitoring.
  2. Integration frameworks: The quest for cohesion. Today’s tech space is riddled with fragmentation. With a multitude of tools and services in play, achieving seamless integration becomes pivotal. Platforms like Backstage are rising to this challenge by offering unified systems, centralizing and standardizing processes. This holistic approach ensures tools can interact seamlessly, eliminating operational silos and providing a consistent developer experience.
  3. Democratizing development with no-code platforms: Arguably one of the most game-changing trends is the emergence of no-code platforms. These innovative platforms are democratizing the world of platform engineering, making it accessible to a broader audience. Gone are the days when in-depth coding expertise was mandatory. With intuitive interfaces and modular components, these platforms enable swift development cycles. They open doors for a wider range of professionals, allowing them to conceptualize and execute without the need for extensive coding know-how.

As platform engineering continues its evolutionary journey, it’s evident that adaptability, integration and inclusivity are at its heart. The convergence of these trends promises a more collaborative and efficient future for developers and organizations alike.

AI’s Role in Shaping the Future of Platform Engineering

Artificial intelligence, especially the recent advancements in generative AI, is swiftly becoming a game-changer in platform engineering. Here’s a concise breakdown of its promising implications:

  • Automation revolution: Envision a future where instead of labor-intensive scripting, AI could handle a significant portion of the automation process. This translates to heightened efficiency and reduced time to market.
  • Complex integrations simplified: GenAI promises to simplify intricate tasks. It can help by understanding different systems and suggesting easy ways to make them work together.
  • Enhanced observability: By integrating AI into monitoring tools, there’s potential for real-time feedback coupled with actionable suggestions. This proactive approach ensures systems are optimized and potential issues are preemptively addressed.
  • Debugging and root-cause analysis : Imagine a QA-based system trained on extensive data sets, encompassing data logs, common metrics and alerts. Such a system could assist developers by answering questions like, “What’s wrong with my system?” and guiding them through debugging processes, even offering root-cause analysis to expedite issue resolution.
  • Assisted infrastructural creation: With AI’s assistance, developers can outline their infrastructure needs, and AI can facilitate the creation process, offering best practices and optimized solutions.

As we dive deeper into the world of platform engineering, it’s clear that AI is shaking things up in a big way, making our work smoother and more user-friendly. Just imagine, operations teams, the unsung heroes behind the scenes, are starting to think more like product managers.

Their focus is shifting from just keeping the lights on to genuinely enhancing the tools and systems developers use. And as with any major change, it’s crucial to manage the transition well. This means retraining our teams, keeping a close eye on our performance metrics and adapting as we go along.

But here’s a word of caution: While AI is super exciting, we need to be thoughtful about how we use it, especially in critical systems like infrastructure handling. It’s probably best if AI gives us advice and we use our human judgment for the final call. It’s an exciting time, and there’s a lot to look forward to!

Charting the Path Forward

We’re seeing some game-changing shifts in platform engineering, thanks to AI and automation. Imagine a world where those tedious, manual tasks are handled automatically. That’s not sci-fi; it’s the direction in which we’re headed, paving the way for developers to work smarter, not harder. With AI in the mix, we’re talking about more straightforward integrations, top-notch monitoring tools and a helping hand in sorting out those pesky bugs. Plus, setting up infrastructure? AI’s got our back there too.

But, as with all big changes, there’s a bit of homework to do. We’ll need to rethink our roles, leaning more toward product-focused approaches. Training and change management? Absolutely essential. And let’s not get too carried away — we’ll need to be smart about where and how we use AI, especially in those mission-critical systems.

So, here’s the moot question: Are we ready to ride the AI wave in platform engineering? How we answer will shape not only the future of software development, but also the day-to-day lives of developers around the globe.

This is part of a series on platform engineering. Read the previous articles:

Group Created with Sketch.
TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
THE NEW STACK UPDATE A newsletter digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.