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State of DevOps: Success happens through platform engineering

The annual State of DevOps report has focused on a phenomenon known as platform engineering

The latest Global 2023 state of DevOps report from Puppet by Perforce has found that IT professionals whose organisations adopt “platform engineering” are more likely to report success.

In 2022, the State of DevOps report revealed that enterprises with more mature DevOps practices tend to use platform teams. It identified platform team adoption as a key differentiator between those firms that were further along in their DevOps journeys to those towards the lower end of DevOps maturity. This latest edition of the study reported that enterprises with mature DevOps practices are using platform teams to succeed at DevOps.

Overall, 94% of enterprises say they are able to better realise the benefits of DevOps, while more than two-thirds (68%) reported a sharp increase in dev velocity thanks to having a team wholly responsible for ensuring the underlying platforms are kept running.

The platform engineering team takes responsibility for designing and building self-service capabilities to minimise the amount of work developers need to do themselves. This, according to the report’s authors, enables fast-flow software delivery. Platform teams deliver shared infrastructure platforms to internal software development teams. The team responsible for the platform treats it as a product for its users, not just an IT project. 

The survey found that the majority of enterprises saw improvements in system reliability (60%), productivity and efficiency (59%), and workflow standards (57%). While 42% reported improved development times.

Ronan Keenan, research director at Perforce, said the concepts behind platform engineering have been used on a small scale at large technology organisations for many years, but platform engineering provides a more concrete focus.

“The concept is about building self-service capabilities which engineers and developers can use. This reduces their workload as they do not have to build these capabilities themselves,” he said, adding that a platform’s team builds and maintains shared IT infrastructure. By having such a shared infrastructure: “The software development process can run quicker since you are lightening the load on the developers and engineers. Platform engineering also offers a more consistent process.” 

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According to Keenan, there are no real limits to where platform engineering can be applied. “As long as you have a self-service shared infrastructure model, platform engineering can have a widespread impact on your organisation,” he said.

The study found the length of time a firm has had a platform team in place is a key factor in improved development speed. Over half (53%) of respondents at firms in which platform teams were implemented more than three years ago report that development speed has improved “a great deal”, compared with just 35% of respondents stating the same at firms that implemented platform teams in the past three years.

The study found that the longer a platform team has been implemented, the more quickly development happens, instilling confidence in the platform team’s abilities.

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