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The Key Components of Internal Developer Platforms 

The Key Components of Internal Developer Platforms 

Internal developer platforms, or IDPs for short, help streamline and accelerate software development and operations within organizations everywhere. They’re built to provide developers with automated, self-service solutions to simplify and standardize software practices, infrastructure, environments, and more.

IDPs were born out of the DevOps process and quickly became seen by many as an opportunity to reduce cognitive load. This improves not only what a developer can accomplish but also how. They help address many of the issues not covered by traditional DevOps practices, all with a laser focus on deploying code to production as effectively as possible.

But at the same time, it’s important not to look at IDPs as some type of “silver bullet” solution. They’re inherently complex, made up of a number of key components that collectively bring with them benefits like those outlined above. By making an effort to understand those components and how they work, you put yourself in the best possible position to use them all to your advantage.

Application Configuration Management

It’s no secret that managing configuration files, either with dedicated scripts or via YAML, is an inherently complicated process. This is especially true when you’re dealing with multiple environments that have all been set up for different purposes. Some DevOps team members may be involved in setting up an environment outside their primary area of expertise, causing issues. This is, in part, what an internal developer platform is designed to address.

Thanks to its sophisticated application configuration management capabilities, an IDP should be able to manage internal and external resources dynamically. It can automatically adapt them based on context, considering things like specific database types. All this happens automatically on an environment-by-environment basis, dramatically increasing both efficiency and scalability along the way.

Infrastructure Orchestration

It’s important to note that all the tools and infrastructure-based resources that DevOps teams are used to are built into IDPs by their very nature. It’s just that they integrate with the IDP itself to enable continuous delivery and deployment as needed.

Once integration points are established, everything from Kubernetes clusters to file storage becomes unified like never before. It’s a way to break free from the platform-as-a-service model, which will often depend on proprietary technology stacks to accomplish similar results.

Environment Management

One of the challenging things about setting up environments is that it often requires a developer to get people from another team involved. Naturally, everybody is busy working on their unique parts of the larger process, so simply collaborating in this way can cause significant delays. It could be an hour before you get the help you need – or it could be days if the person who can assist you is on vacation.

This means that environments will be active, but they’re not in use – meaning those resources are blocked for long periods of time when they could be put to better use elsewhere.

IDPs change the game significantly, allowing developers to spin up fully provisioned environments as needed. An environment can be created, used for whatever purposes are necessary (like development or even testing), and more – all in a way that closely mirrors the actual production environment.

This helps speed up development cycles, eliminating resource bottlenecks and ensuring that everything operates predictably, even if something like testing is happening simultaneously across multiple environments.

Deployment Management

In a best-case scenario, a software developer’s job should primarily consist of A) writing code and then B) testing that code to see what works and what doesn’t. Everything that falls outside those two areas should be automated whenever possible. The more a developer has to do beyond those core requirements, the longer the process will take.

That’s precisely the type of scenario that an IDP can help a development team create. It acts as a centralized “single source of truth” for important debugging information like container logs, for example, saving a lot of time so that a developer can focus on more important matters. This is true whether someone is working on a local host or while collaborating with countless other team members in multiple countries.

Role-Based Access Control

Finally, we arrive at the idea of role-based access control, or RBAC for short. This directly impacts how access rights and permissions are handled within a particular system.

With RBAC in particular, one challenge is that configuration and the management of existing permissions happen in a silo. Security teams take care of these core processes as they should. They might not have access to the bigger picture – meaning they’re not quite sure who needs access to which parts of the system in order to do their jobs effectively.

This can, again, lead to wasted time, as someone without the appropriate permissions who should have them is literally unable to work until the issue is solved.

With an IDP, however, this process is dramatically more efficient. They’re still able to stay in line with all RBAC best practices, but everything that can be automated is. Plugins are also provided that allow for a deeper level of integration with any cloud-based providers that a team might be working with. All this can be incorporated into the software template at the beginning of a project, allowing things to go as smoothly as you’d hoped.

While these elements are invaluable on their own, the key takeaway is that they all work in tandem with one another. They become something more powerful as a collective than any one of them could be in a silo. Their integration makes up the foundation of what we know an Internal Developer Platform to be.

By integrating these core functions, you arrive at the type of comprehensive, self-service solution that developers can depend on. This is a big part of why IDPs have become an essential part of the modern software development process, and that is one trend that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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