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3 Challenges to Be Aware Of When Using an Internal Developer Platform

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3 Challenges to Be Aware Of When Using an Internal Developer Platform
Author: DuploCloud | Tuesday, December 6 2022

Understanding the potential roadblocks will help you determine if integrating an IDP is suitable for your organization

When Amazon CTO Werner Vogels proclaimed, “You build it, you run it” in 2006, he ushered in the rise of a movement known as DevOps. Fast forward to the cloud-forward development environment today, where skilled DevOps engineers are difficult to find, making it harder for start-ups and smaller organizations to compete on a global scale. 

Many businesses have looked to platform engineering teams and internal developer platforms (IDP) to automate DevOps tasks that can cause roadblocks to rapid provisioning, iteration, and deployment. While extremely helpful for many teams, there are several challenges for internal developer platform integration worth noting. Read on to learn more so you can assess whether implementing an IDP is right for your organization.

3 Challenges of Internal Developer Platform Adoption

IDPs Are Complex to Build

The ultimate goal for constructing an internal developer platform is to facilitate automation and productivity across large teams (or to grant smaller teams without dedicated DevOps engineers the ability to deploy at scale). Getting to that point is a huge challenge, though — IDP build timelines can last between 18-24 months, especially if you’re constructing one from scratch. 

IDPs provide abstraction for various aspects of development, such as infrastructure and networking, allowing developers to automate recurring tasks and configurations. They also integrate with the dozens — or potentially hundreds — of tools and microservices teams need to deploy cloud-native applications. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for each development team’s needs, so businesses must customize their approach to building their own IDP.

As platforms scale up to meet daily demands, additional failure points in deployment, post-deployment visibility, and governance can appear. This can create a situation where developers are hitting more productivity roadblocks with the IDP in place than they were without.

To help provide a foundation for developers looking to integrate an IDP into their workflow, we’ve developed DuploCloud. It’s a DevSecOps automation platform that allows teams to enable developer self-service by automating Infrastructure as Code set-up, as well as ensuring cloud-native applications are secure and compliant.

Read our IDP white paper to learn more about how DuploCloud can speed up automation by a factor of ten while reducing development costs.

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IDPs Need to Be Treated Like a Product

Unlike one-off tools or plug-and-play solutions, platform engineering teams should treat IDPs like any living product. Employees need to take ownership of the IDP like they would their code, maintaining both the platform and necessary documentation as the organization adds new applications or services to the IDP workflow. 

Platform engineering then needs to ensure processes for interacting with the IDP are codified to ensure a cultural buy-in from key stakeholders and staff. Having the team members in charge of the IDP evangelize its role within the organization will bolster support among staff, ensuring that it has the resources it needs to thrive. Without a culture focused on building DevOps processes and dismantling siloed operations, teams will likely grow wary of their loss of control over these newly-automated processes. 

It’s also easy for staff to fall back into old habits, relying on manual processes they’ve carried with them for years. Individuals who make exceptions to the IDP with custom scripts and other tools will undermine the IDP, creating the opportunity for more problems — like security or compliance failures — in the long run.

Staff should be regularly trained on IDP usage and updates, as well as encouraged to provide feedback on necessary features they would like added or issues they’re currently experiencing with the IDP. This will enable staff to view the IDP as a core function of their workflow rather than a side project to be ignored once built. 

Costs May Get Out of Hand if You’re Not Careful

Any new resource costs time, knowledge, and money to build and configure, so there’s a constant balance between keeping those costs low and judging whether they’re being spent efficiently. IDPs require a significant upfront investment from the platform engineering team to integrate and regular ongoing maintenance costs to operate effectively. 

For larger enterprises that need control over every aspect of their development pipeline, it may be easier to shoulder the costs of building and maintaining an IDP in-house. For mid-sized companies, that’s harder to justify, especially if an off-the-shelf solution can provide similar functionality.

The hardest part is making that assessment, as you may not get a complete picture of the cost-to-benefit ratio until a year or two after IDP deployment. It’s vital to have a clear picture of what an IDP will bring to your organization and what you’ll need to build one before you commit.

Build Your IDP Faster With DuploCloud

Even with the challenges of internal developer platform integration, organizations looking to enhance their application development workflow shouldn’t let a lack of staff or knowledge restrict them from implementing an IDP solution themselves. It also doesn’t hurt to work with an experienced partner like DuploCloud: a DevOps-as-a-Service platform that can automate large portions of Infrastructure as Code deployment and integration into CI/CD pipelines. Plus, DuploCloud allows teams to ensure their applications are secure and compliant with global regulations with automated monitoring services. 

Read our white paper Internal Developer Platform for Cloud Deployment and Operations to learn more about how DuploCloud can automate large portions of IDP and Infrastructure as Code configuration to decrease deployment times by 10x and reduce cloud operating costs by 70%.

Author: DuploCloud | Tuesday, December 6 2022