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What is an Internal Developer Platform (IDP) and Why It Matters

In today's evolving technological landscape, enterprises are under increasing pressure to deliver high-quality software at an accelerated pace.

Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) provide a centralized developer portal that empowers developers with self-service capabilities, standardized development environments, and automation tools to accelerate the software development lifecycle.

In this week’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at internal developer platforms and how implementing IDPs is helping organizations overcome the complexity of modern software development and increase developer efficiency to accelerate the delivery of software products.

 

What is an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)

 

What is an Internal Developer Platform?

An IDP is a self-service environment that provides developers with tools, services, and optimized workflows to streamline the process of building, deploying, and managing software applications. IDPs are built and maintained by platform engineering teams who work to understand the needs of developers, select tools to meet those needs, and integrate those tools into the IDP and software development workflows.

An enterprise IDP provides a single centralized platform where developers can access source code repositories, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, automated testing frameworks, monitoring capabilities, and other resources. Offering these resources in a self-service model minimizes the time and effort required to set up infrastructure and handle operational tasks, enabling developers to focus on coding and innovation.

The first IDPs were developed internally by trail-blazing technology companies like Google, Amazon, and Spotify to streamline the software release process and enhance developer productivity and efficiency during periods of rapid growth. IDPs and the teams of platform engineers building and operating them have grown increasingly popular in digital-native organizations that value speed, agility, and innovation in software development.

 

Advanced DevSecOps Techniques - Check out the Blog

 

Why Modern Enterprises Need an Internal Developer Platform

As DevOps methodology emerged in the mid-2000s, the most cutting-edge technology companies realized that “You Build It, You Run It” was the right philosophy for breaking down silos and accelerating releases in enterprise software development.

But the shift towards cloud services was driving significant growth in complexity on the ITOps side and making it difficult for organizations to implement true DevOps teams where each person builds and runs their own code. The time-consuming need to manually configure new environments and provision cloud infrastructure (networking, compute, storage, VMs, etc.) to build, test, or deploy software would result in increased operational overhead and slow down the software release cycle.

IDPs were envisioned as a means of enhancing the developer experience and enabling DevOps efficiency by providing self-serve capabilities and streamlined workflows (sometimes called “golden paths”) that make it faster and easier for DevOps teams to run their own code. With a combination of automation and self-service capabilities, IDPs enable developers to run their own applications with minimal complexity and without having to depend on ITOps.

 

Core Components of an Internal Developer Platform

Each IDP is purpose-built by a platform engineering team to suit the specific needs of the enterprise. IDPs can deliver a variety of self-service tools and capabilities that support the software development life cycle. These often include:

 

1. Cloud Infrastructure Orchestration

Cloud infrastructure orchestration is used to automate the configuration, provisioning, and management of resources in cloud environments. Platform engineers use templates to describe infrastructure configurations and APIs to automate the setup, allowing developers to provision infrastructure for a build at the click of a button.

 

2. Development Tools

IDPs can include developer tools like integrated IDEs, code editors, and application debugging tools. These built-in tools enhance developer productivity, code quality, and collaboration, enabling efficient software development and reducing time spent on setup and configuration.

 

3. Code Repositories and Version Control

IDPs often contain a code repository with version control that enables efficient code management, collaboration, activity tracking, and audit trail. This feature promotes collaboration and sharing throughout the organization while allowing developers to track changes, merge code, and roll back if needed.

 

4. Collaboration Tools

IDPs often incorporate collaboration tools, including communication channels, project management features, and document-sharing capabilities. These capabilities enable knowledge sharing and foster effective collaboration between developer teams.

 

5. Deployment and Delivery Tools

Deployment and delivery tools make it easier for developers to consistently deliver code. The IDP provides a standardized workflow for deploying applications along with tools like CI/CD pipelines that speed up the process of building, testing, and deploying code.

 

6. Application Configuration Management

IDPs typically include an application configuration management system where developers can store and manage application configurations. This IDP feature simplifies the process of configuring and maintaining application settings, reducing the risk of errors and giving developers flexibility to adapt to different deployment scenarios.

 

7. Environment Management

In enterprises without an IDP, developers are frequently asking ITOps to set up new environments. An IDP with self-service environment management allows developers to create and manage development, testing, and production environments on their own, without having to make requests to ITOps.

 

8. Observability and Data Analytics Tools

Observability tools in an IDP give developers access to telemetry (logs, metrics, and traces) from applications and cloud services. With data analytics capabilities, developers can analyze this telemetry data to identify application performance issues, troubleshoot cloud services, track user behavior patterns, investigate security incidents, and make data-driven decisions for enhancing software quality and user experience.

 

9. RBAM

Role-based action management allows platform engineering and ITOps to restrict user permissions within the IDP. ITOps teams can specify who is authorized to ship code in specific environments, who is authorized to make certain types of changes in the code repository, or who is authorized to edit certain application or infrastructure configurations.

 

10. APIs and Integrations

APIs and integrations in an IDP facilitate seamless integration with external services, tools, and systems. They enable developers to leverage their existing resources, integrate with third-party services, and build custom integrations, enhancing the capabilities and extensibility of the development platform.

 

What are the Benefits of Implementing an IDP?

 

1. Improved Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

IDPs encourage collaboration among developers by standardizing the toolchain and software development workflows across the enterprise while providing shared code repositories, documentation platforms, and communication channels. With everyone using the same tools and processes from a centralized platform, developers can easily share code, best practices, and insights, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and accelerating innovation within the enterprise.

 

2. Increased Developer Productivity and Efficiency

IDPs provide software developers with self-service and automated capabilities for the entire software life cycle - from setting up new environments, to provisioning and scaling resources, managing app configurations, deploying applications, and application performance management. Self-service and automated capabilities eliminate repetitive tasks, reduce cognitive load for developers, and streamline the development process so developers can spend more time writing and delivering code to improve products.

Self-service and automation also reduce developer dependencies on ITOps throughout the software life cycle. Relieving ITOps of routine transactional tasks like configuring new environments and provisioning resources minimizes resource wastage and allows ITOps to spend time on more value-generating activities.

 

3. Accelerated Innovation and Faster Time-to-Market

IDPs facilitate rapid software development by offering pre-configured development environments, automated deployment pipelines, and integrated testing frameworks. These capabilities reduce setup time, ensure consistent environments, and enable quick iterations on new features, resulting in faster time-to-market for software products and updates.

 

Integrate Chaossearch With Your IDP for Self-Service Observability and Log Analytics

An internal developer platform with integrated cloud-native observability and log analytics capabilities from ChaosSearch holds immense potential for organizations seeking to democratize data access and accelerate the software development process.

ChaosSearch transforms your cloud object storage into an activated data lake where you can centralize log and telemetry data from applications and cloud infrastructure, index your logs with our proprietary Chaos Index® technology, and analyze it with no data movement or time-consuming ETL process.

With ChaosSearch's capabilities, IDPs can truly empower organizations to harness the full potential of their data, enabling faster development cycles, better decision-making, and ultimately, delivering superior software solutions to meet evolving customer demands.

 

Ready to learn more?

Check out our white paper on Digital Business Observability: Analyzing IT and Business Data Together to learn more about how you can break down data silos and unlock valuable business insights with ChaosSearch.

 

Report - Eckerson Digital Business Observability

About the Author, David Bunting

David Bunting is the Director of Demand Generation at ChaosSearch, the cloud data platform simplifying log analysis, cloud-native security, and application insights. Since 2019 David has worked tirelessly to bring ChaosSearch’s revolutionary technology to engineering teams, garnering the company such accolades as the Data Breakthrough Award and Cybersecurity Excellence Award. A veteran of LogMeIn and OutSystems, David has spent 20 years creating revenue growth and developing teams for SaaS and PaaS solutions. More posts by David Bunting