Rafay Backstage Plugins Simplify Kubernetes Deployments
Rafay Systems recently announced the release of Backstage Plugins. These open source software plugins for Spotify’s Backstage platform create self-service workflows for developers while providing the governance and standardization platform teams require.
The announcement was made at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe. Rafay Backstage Plugins will become globally available to consumers by July 2023.
The plugins are designed to balance the seemingly opposing needs of platform teams and developers while working with frameworks such as Kubernetes and varying environments. Platform teams seek to formalize how developers provision and access their resources, while developers are concerned with quickly innovating and testing varying applications or web pages.
According to Abhinav Mishra, Senior Product Manager at Rafay, “Developer self-service for Kubernetes is a huge challenge. Developers need a cluster, or namespace, or environment, to provision and test applications and it takes too long for this process to happen. It can take organizations three months to get an app fixed in production.”
Using Backstage Plugins, however, organizations can drastically reduce the time required to create, test, and operationalize applications — while doing so in a well-governed, repeatable manner.
Tedious Manual Approaches
Backstage Plugins connects developers’ Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) in Backstage — a widely used open platform for developer teams — to Rafay Kubernetes Operations Platform. In turn, “Backstage allows for development of IDPs atop Kubernetes,” Mishra said. The plugins enable platform engineers to create reusable templates that adhere to the governance concerns of the organization, spanning everything from cost to multitenancy and regulatory compliance.
Without this methodology, organizations are frequently slowed by lengthy back-and-forth conversations between developers and platform teams about which resources to use, how to provision them, and how to secure them. “The way a lot of companies handle this workflow is if developers need an environment or to deploy an app, they submit a ticket,” maintained Sean Wilcox, Rafay SVP of Marketing. “Those tickets sit in a sea of tickets for like, a week, and there’s several questions and opportunities for platform teams to get back to them. There’s a back and forth like a ping pong game that happens for a month.” A Rafay survey found these manual methods often delay application implementations for anywhere from one to three months.
The introduction of Rafay Backstage Plugins replaces these time-consuming efforts with an alternative approach in which platform engineering teams create templates for developers. Those templates specify all aspects of the infrastructural, governance, access, and provisioning of resources that platform engineering teams require developers to follow. Backstage Plugins enable developers to consume those templates (and their corresponding resources) while using their IDPs that are connected to Backstage. The connection to Rafay Kubernetes Operations Platform enables developers to avail themselves of its bevy of capabilities for facilitating governed access to Kubernetes.
Examples of templates include those designed to support “Cluster as a Service, Namespace as a Service, or Environments as a Service,” Mishra mentioned. Platform teams benefit from this approach by specifying how developers spin up resources and provision them in a governed manner. Developers benefit by accessing those resources and environments “by just entering a name and the description of a cluster,” Mishra said. “With a one-click provision, they get a nice view of their environment, where they can download [resources] and deploy apps easily to it and reduce the cognitive load of having to learn the intricacies of Kubernetes.”
Reducing the Cognitive Load
The reduced time-to-value that Backstage Plugins supports has lasting ramifications for developers and IT teams. It enables each of them to concentrate on what they do best. For platform teams, that’s “setting up those standards and workflows and ensuring they’re done in a compliant way for regulations, or internal policies, or even costs,” Mishra commented. For developers, it’s realizing the freedom from infrastructural, access, and security concerns to spur creativity.
“Developers shouldn’t have to deal with this stuff,” Wilcox remarked. “They want to code and deploy fast. All the infrastructure stuff they shouldn’t have to be concerned with, like does this even go in a cluster or a namespace? Frankly, they should just be able to deploy while the platform team, in an automated way, figures this out for them.”
The objective is for developers to spend their time pursuing more higher-value tasks related to devising new and better solutions, instead of miring themselves in the infrastructure particulars and governance demands of doing so.