Mar 20, 2023

Empowering Platform teams with Portals

Making development teams productive, faster, using platform services and self-service portals like Backstage.

Jonah Kowall, VP Product Management

Jonah Kowall

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VP Product Management

The platform trend is nothing new, however platforms teams are getting much better at delivering consistent experiences to developers and engineering teams. If you would like to learn more about this trend, I can’t recommend the CNCF SIG App paper on the topic highly enough.

Platform teams are the productive path

The result is higher velocity and better productivity for engineering teams. As Atlassian states, pulled from the CNCF paper: “platform teams can create a cohesive experience that spans across different user experiences or products.” The most popular platform for delivery is the popular Backstage project, which is another CNCF project donated by Spotify. With the increased usage of Backstage, we’ve seen this become even more pronounced within many organizations; however, the ecosystem is still immature.

Backstage today

I’m still seeing many gaps in the ecosystem and integrations within Backstage. It seems not to integrate with cloud platforms to enable developers to provision applications, infrastructure, and other associated resources they require. Some larger Aiven clients, treat Aiven as part of the platform, similar to what our cloud provider OEMs do. They 100% control the user experience from the API to their own custom portal, they interface with Aiven strictly through their own controlled experiences and not the Aiven user experience (Aiven Portal).

How portals enable ownership

One of our customers is so advanced they even expose usage, billing, and detailed operational controls and observability through their portal and UI. It’s really no different from the large numbers of customers using our Terraform modules or our Kubernetes Operator, they are just providing a much richer experience versus those integrating via infrastructure. This is taking the notion of DevOps much farther, as culturally they can create transparency, allowing for development teams to be accountable for what they are building and operating and how much it costs the business.

Platform Components

These developer portals also are a boon to productivity, allowing for much faster onboarding of developers and making them productive, even if it requires engineering resources to do some of these things. Most of the organizations I have seen talk about developer experience as CI/CD, development environments, and other more basic services.

Come and talk to me at Kubecon

If you would like to learn more about Backstage, you should be going to Kubecon in Europe, you can come and meet me too. I will be delivering the Jaeger Project Maintainer talk on April 19th at 11:55am Are you interested in seeing an Aiven integration to Backstage?

Should developer portals have richer experiences around operational visibility, like observability tooling? How about database management tools beyond basic administration? I’d love to hear your opinion, just message on Twitter @jkowall or LinkedIn

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