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Platform Engineering Or DevOps: The Goal Is To Deliver Software That Gives User Value


Guest: Zack Butcher (LinkedIn)
Company: Tetrate (Twitter)

Tetrate helps companies deliver applications safely and securely, using the service mesh as its leverage point. In this episode of TFiR: T3M, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Zack Butcher, Founding Engineer at Tetrate, to talk about the market trends he is seeing, particularly in the platform engineering and DevOps space.

Current market conditions:

  • There is a general trend towards cloud-native architecture.
  • There is an increase in mesh adoption.

People are using different names for different reasons (DevOps, SRE, DevSecOps, platform engineering), but fundamentally, the goal is to deliver software that gives user value. In order to do that, two activities need to take place: 1) build the infrastructure to facilitate applications, and 2) deliver the application successfully on that infrastructure, which includes the CI/CD, the build pipelines, the testing infrastructure, everything that it takes to go from the source code on the developer laptop to an actual running application.

The platform engineering team is focused on building a product, and that product is the infrastructure that the organization consumes. DevOps is really about how we get these applications into the infrastructure. There’s going to be an overlap with the platform team because both should be working together to facilitate safe and rapid delivery and being able to release at a higher cadence. SRE is involved in operations at runtime and feeding that back to the development team to make meaningful improvements. It interacts heavily with how an application is delivered, the CI, and the integration testing. It’s also going to depend heavily on the platform because it is providing metrics, logging and operational insights.

Is DevOps dead? Not exactly. The divide between building the application and operating the application is particularly healthy for producing teams that have customer empathy. To iterate more rapidly and operate more confidently, you need a tighter feedback loop. The fundamental activity getting applications into production, integrating with the platform and the operations side is still going to exist.

Developer experience encompasses these stages: I want to take source code, I want to put it into a machine, I want testing to occur, I want assurance that the change that I made is going to be good, I want to roll it out to a set of users, I want to facilitate the feedback that it’s doing what it should do and that it’s actually meeting that problem.

There is a proliferation of companies that focus on different elements of developer experience:

  • Some focus on the idea of  source control and facilitating a workflow on top of that.
  • Others focus on better tooling that helps integrate the infrastructure end to end and provide feedback loop.

Advice for companies looking to adopt any new technology:

  • Evaluate how it helps them achieve the end goal of delivering more value to their customers faster, cheaper, and safer. Example: Adopting mesh to comply with encryption in transit is a good reason; adopting it because it’s an interesting technology is not a good reason.
  • Whether you’re on the platform engineering side or on the DevOps and SRE side, the engineers are building something that is consumed by other engineers. Even then, they must not lose sight of the end goal, which is to focus on the value that the business is delivering to end users.

This summary was written by Camille Gregory.

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