Are you tired of underperforming IT operations, unsustainable platforms, or the struggles of implementing Site Reliability or Platform Engineering principles and practices?
You’re not alone. And the answer to solving these issues lies in embedding Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) and platform engineers into your teams.
What’s the difference between Site Reliability Engineering and Platform Engineering?
One thing we need to clear up before we dive any deeper is the distinction between Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and Platform Engineering.
A platform team focuses on creating a comprehensive foundation of high-fidelity tools, products APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces), services, SaaS offerings and custom systems into a body of usable golden paths and knowledge that enables self-service capabilities for software engineering teams within the organisation. This ‘internal developer platform practice’ supports the entire development lifecycle and aims to enhance productivity and collaboration amongst engineers. The goal of the platform teams is to essentially build a “platform as an internal product” for consumption, decreasing the cognitive overhead experienced by various teams adopting these platforms while maintaining standards and cross-cutting concerns.
Site Reliability Engineering, on the other hand, is a specific approach to operations and systems management. SREs work on maintaining and improving large-scale systems’ reliability, availability and performance. SREs will adopt software engineering practices to automate processes and toil, monitor systems, and respond to incidents effectively, focusing on telemetry, observability and overall reliability of the systems using a data-driven and engineering mindset to overcome issues and build confidence.
Ricardo Pinto, principal lead and head of BBD’s platform team, explains that while Platform Engineering concentrates on providing a broad set of tools and services to facilitate software development product teams, including SRE concerns, SRE focuses on maintaining and optimising the reliability and performance of the systems on which those applications run. “Or in simpler terms, platform engineers provide the glue and capability while SREs use and contribute to defining the portions of the capability they need, and then leveraging that to focus on reliability and improvement.”
Ultimately, both roles play a critical function in modern software development, but they have distinct focuses and responses.
Sounding like skills you’d like in your team?
At this point, you may find yourself thinking about the benefits platform engineers and SREs can bring to your development projects, but as with most things these days, there’s a catch.
In an industry struggling to match an ever-growing demand for available skilled workers, not to mention the effect of remote work, recruiting and retaining SREs and platform engineers can be arduous. With that demand and the required technical expertise for these roles, SREs and platform engineers are not only hard to come by but also very expensive to employ full-time.
So you know what SREs and platform engineers do at a high level and that they’re tricky to come by – now what?
Finding a way forward
International software solutions company BBD has experienced the positive impact SRE and Platform Engineering can have within a business’ IT operations and the value they bring to custom development projects. The company realised that by creating a platform and SRE capability integrated with the other engineering teams, they could ensure the delivery of safe, compliant and cost-effective systems for production-ready platforms in the cloud and on-prem. With this adoption, BBD clients have seen improved delivery and developer experience, and have been able to democratise knowledge through self-service paths and providing a tailored “platforms as an accelerator for clients”.
BBD’s platform services
“Our objective in establishing platform teams and incorporating SRE skillsets into teams (or as a standalone team) was to alleviate the challenges of sourcing, overseeing, and retaining these skill sets and experts for our clients. This initiative empowers their IT capability while focusing on reliability, performance and adoption of their platforms whether in the cloud or not,” explains Pinto.
This affordable and agile approach to an essential inclusion in the organisation means that the execution and implementation not only follow best practices, but organisations can prioritise innovation with the aid of their strategic development partners. This continuous innovation cycle helps position BBD’s clients at the forefront of their respective industries.
The beauty of BBD’s solution lies in the detail. “We’ve approached our offering from the point of view of our clients, who were looking for SREs and platform engineers without the associated costs or, as a smaller company, didn’t have the workload to justify a full-time role at various stages of our client’s journeys,” says Pinto. To address these challenges, BBD’s platform team comprises senior, intermediate and junior SREs and platform engineers, with the intermediate and junior engineers focussing on platform reliability and growth, capability build and continuous improvement within a product mindset. They are, in turn, supported on-demand by the senior and principal engineers who oversee, design and guide as required for the client’s requirement.
Stable, repeatable, and rich in benefits, the solution delivers platform innovation and managed services, leveraging engineering support from SRE professionals.
The benefits for your business
Adopting Platform Engineering and SRE practices either through the establishment of teams or through embedding with tailored engagement models brings a host of benefits to any organisation, including:
- Consistent and reliable platform operation
Reduced operational costs
Fully managed or augmented services
Higher levels of application reliability and resiliency
Improved platform availability and reduced deployment risk
Increased team efficiency and reduced toil through automation
Improved customer satisfaction and retention
Improved platform visibility through implementation of logging, monitoring, telemetry, auditing and alerting
Improved incident prevention and response
A total view of system health
Provision for operations at scale
Reduction of technical debt
Cloud and platform engineering leveraging Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Support for AWS, Azure, containerised and serverless platforms
Deployment models and software delivery using CI/CD
Creation of internal developer platforms alongside production-ready platform maintenance
Knowledge transfer between BBD’s teams and client teams
With over 1200 talented IT professionals around the world, one additional benefit worth considering is how BBD’s clients get access to their broader cloud service capabilities, meeting requirements at any stage of the cloud journey.
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape and the potential complexity of initiatives, BBD clients are seeing benefits from adopting these various disciplines and skillsets that have emerged. However, hiring and retaining these skilled engineers can be challenging and expensive. Not to mention a hard pitch to sell if you’re concerned your company doesn’t have enough consistent demand or need for these skillsets in their current journey.
BBD’s innovative solution is to offer a tailored platform and SRE capability through bespoke engagement models to empower their clients with sustainable platforms on-prem and in the cloud, ensuring compliance and cost-effectiveness.
So now what?
If you’ve made it this far, then you must be tired of underperforming IT operations or are worried about the reliability, stability and sustainability of your platforms. If that’s the case, set up some time with the platform team by emailing BBD at firstname.lastname@example.org.