In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of technology, the term “Platform Engineering” is often subject to a narrow interpretation, confined to the spheres of infrastructure and systems management. Because of this, it could be perceived as an exclusively technical domain, dominated by servers, clusters, and networks.

This limited view, however, does not give proper justice to the inherent richness and complexity of this field, a universe in which technology, innovation, and human engineering converge. Platform engineering extends far beyond the foundations of infrastructure, embracing a broad spectrum of technologies, practices, and philosophies that define the modern landscape of software development and systems architecture. Cloud infrastructure management, in particular, is only one piece of the puzzle.

In this article, we will briefly explain the relationship between infrastructure and platform engineering, and then focus on the other fundamental pillars that are not always immediately considered.

In this digital age, infrastructures have become more agile, scalable, and distributed, evolving toward increasingly sophisticated computing models such as cloud computing, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud. Without a doubt, infrastructure management is one of the primary aspects to be considered (and probably one of the most important ones). Tools such as Kubernetes and infrastructure as code (IaC) tools have revolutionized the flexibility with which platform Engineers can build and manage these infrastructures, freeing them from traditional constraints and allowing them to focus on innovation and value addition.

But what distinguishes a platform engineering environment is not only the architecture on which it is based (or which it allows to be managed), but how this architecture is used to empower and simplify the work of developers and ops to make their work not only more efficient, but also more rewarding and creative.

Pillars of platform engineering

Automation at the core

At the heart of platform engineering is automation, a key element in eliminating repetitive tasks and easing the cognitive load on developers and ops. This automation extends across a wide range of tools, from continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) systems to container orchestration frameworks, which have revolutionized the way applications are deployed and managed. Such automation is not limited to the pipeline but is extended to processes such as deployment and testing further, allowing developers to focus on what really matters: code and innovation.

Composability as the key to optimization

Composability, both architectural and application, is another fundamental pillar of Platform Engineering. The idea of building modular systems, in which separate components can be assembled in new and innovative ways, not only increases efficiency but also opens the door to previously unimaginable levels of creativity and customization. In this context, the practices of composable architecture and microservices are not mere buzzwords, but represent a radical transformation in the way we think about and build software.

Agility and innovation

Agility and innovation are not just technical achievements, but reflections of a broader philosophy that embraces the Cloud Native vision and the tools provided by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). These principles and tools are fundamental to creating development environments that are not only technologically advanced but also agile and adaptable to the changing needs of the market and developers.

Monitoring and data

Another crucial element is monitoring systems and data. In a world where everything is measurable, the ability to monitor, analyze, and react to data in real-time is not only a matter of performance but also of insight and innovation. Data Platforms can provide information about the internal world of applications and infrastructure, but also operational and business data. These tools offer unprecedented insight into how systems behave and how users operate within our digital platforms. Whether it is data from the state of the infrastructure or related to daily sales these systems can analyze and suggest patterns to engineers, business people, and decision-makers to enable them to make data-driven decisions quickly.

Platform Engineering is not (only) about tech

Platform engineering is also intrinsically linked to collaboration and culture. In an age when teamwork and interdisciplinarity are paramount, the ability to build and maintain collaborative environments is not just an advantage, but a necessity. This aspect of platform engineering is not only about tools that facilitate collaboration, but also about practices and processes that encourage knowledge sharing, open innovation, and an inclusive and challenging work environment.

There is also a nice talk from Mia-Platform that explores this topic, watch it on YouTube!

The beating heart of platform engineering lies in its ability to harmoniously weave together advanced technology, creative innovation, and human collaboration, transcending simple infrastructure and systems management to embrace a broader and more complex landscape.

Its real effectiveness is measured not only in terms of advanced technological solutions but also in its ability to be of service to people — both end users and the developers who build them. This evolving field embraces a human-centered approach, where every technical aspect is designed to enhance and facilitate the developer experience from a human perspective.

To learn more about Kubernetes and the cloud native ecosystem, attend KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe in Paris from March 19-22.