What is an Internal Developer Platform?

Louis-Victor Jadavji
November 16, 2023
Louis-Victor Jadavji, Cofounder of Taloflow

Louis-Victor Jadavji (or "LV") is a recognized leader in the cloud services industry. He's helped 50+ digital native companies like ModusBox, Later, and NS1 choose the right cloud stack for their applications. His work has been featured in Forbes (30 Under 30 All-Star), HuffPost, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and Inc. Magazine.

Introduction to Internal Developer Platforms

The primary objective Platform Engineering is to implement a robust and scalable Internal Developer Platform, or IDP. This post covers what an IDP is, some common confusion with Internal Developer Portals, the benefits and adoption challenges.

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Differences Between an Internal Developer Platform and an Internal Developer Portal

You’ve probably seen the terms Internal Developer Platform and Internal Developer Portal used somewhat interchangeably. It doesn’t help that they have the same acronym. However, these are completely different concepts wherein the Internal Developer Portal is just one of many components for a successful Internal Developer Platform strategy.

Internal Developer Platform

An Internal Developer Platform is a comprehensive environment that provides developers with the tools, frameworks, and services they need to build, deploy, and manage applications more efficiently.

Internal Developer Portal

An Internal Developer Portal is a user interface or portal that serves as a central hub for developers to discover, explore, and interact with various resources provided by an organization.

Benefits of Internal Developer Platforms

Internal Developer Platforms are a solution to the ever-increasing demand for faster development cycles and releases with automation. There are many benefits provided by the adoption of Internal Developer Platforms to an organization, including:

  1. Faster development cycles - Internal Developer Platforms provide toolchains and workflows to streamline the development process. This helps developers ship integrations faster, reducing the time to market.
  2. Improved security - An IDP standardizes the security features required for all the systems and applications used by the product teams. By relying on the platforms, developers can easily focus on improving infrastructure security. 
  3. Consistent infrastructure - IDPs promote consistencies across the infrastructure by promoting a single, standard way of building and running applications. 
  4. Cost control - IDPs help organizations build centralized resource management that allows them to manage infrastructure costs and ensure better overall cost control. 
  5. Autonomy - IDPs act as a hub or a central place for all the common operations tasks in the organization. IDPs abstract complexity and automate Ops tasks. The availability of self-service features and centralization provides the developers with the autonomy to focus on delivering business value.

Adoption challenges

Platform engineering, while offering numerous benefits, also comes with its fair share of challenges. Successfully navigating these challenges is crucial for organizations to harness the full potential of their Internal Developer Platforms. Here are some common challenges associated with platform engineering: 

  1. Choosing the right tools and technologies - With so many tools available in the market it is difficult to determine the one which is the best fit for an organization. It is crucial for organizations to choose tools that focus on two paramount aspects – extensibility and scalability.
  2. Increased complexity - Platform engineering can add complexity to infrastructure and this can be challenging for small teams to handle.
  3. Compatibility - The tools used by platform teams might not be compatible with the tools that all the dev teams use in the organization and this can lead to friction and eventually slow down the process.  
  4. Vendor lock-in - Depending heavily on specific technology providers or vendors can lead to vendor lock-in, limiting flexibility and potentially increasing costs. Platform engineers need to consider strategies to mitigate this risk.
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