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Highlights from PlatformCon 2023

ICYMI, here are the top 5 talks from PlatformCon you won’t want to miss.

1️⃣ Gregor Hohpe | Build abstractions, not illusions

Let’s be honest, the tech we have today is amazing but it can also be complex. So, it’s only natural that the platforms we build want to hide that complexity in order to improve productivity, avoid mistakes, and reduce cognitive load.

So, the more complexity we can hide, the better our platform? Actually, no. We need to be careful that we create useful abstractions, not dangerous illusions. This talk reflects on two decades of building complex distributed systems, highlighting where abstractions helped and where illusions led to major disappointments.

2️⃣ Mike Gatto and Stephan Schneider | Platform as Code: Simplifying developer platform design with reference architectures

Reducing the cognitive and operational load on software developers is the key to increasing product innovation and velocity. With that in mind,  in this talk we showcase how to separate the application code from orchestration and operations concerns without breaking the DevOps model. We built cloud-native reference architectures for Internal Developer Platforms that allow operations teams to define and manage how and where workloads are deployed and within which guardrails, while still enabling developer freedom via abstraction and self-service.

Following our reference architectures you can:

  • Remove some of the stressors from product and platform teams that limit developer experience and productivity
  • Enable platform teams to drive standardization and ensure security and compliance is baked into all components
  • Remove cognitive load and frees up time of software developers to do what they do best: writing code that solves customer problems

3️⃣ Nicki Watt | Why is it so hard to create a great Platform-as-a-Product?

So you've heard that you should be applying product thinking, and treating the platform as-a-product when embarking on a new platform initiative. This is great, however, for many this seems much harder to do in practice than in theory! This talk explores some of the reasons behind this. We look at what the stumbling blocks are which tend to trip people and organisations up the most, as well as what can be done to counteract this where possible.

You will learn the following from this talk:

  • Why is it important to apply product thinking and treat the platform as-a-product when embarking on a new platform engineering initiative
  • What stumbling blocks could you run into trying to do this
  • How can you get around, or counteract some of these stumbling blocks

4️⃣ Charity Majors | The future of Ops is platform engineering

Generalist infrastructure jobs are disappearing, and infra engineers should choose between either building infra as a service, or becoming a platform engineer and using their expertise to help companies use as *little* infrastructure as possible.

Platform engineering teams are very different from SRE and DevOps teams. Not necessarily in skill set, but in orientation. Platform engineering teams are responsible for developer velocity, not stability and uptime. While developers are responsible for their OWN stability and uptime.

Vendor engineering may not sound hot, but it's one of the most powerful, highly leveraged roles any engineer can perform.

5️⃣ Maunel Pais | Beyond engineering: The future of platforms

Traditionally teams and groups are incentivized for outputs, so the more cycles you can run and the faster you can close requests the better. We end up optimizing internal processes at the cost of company outcomes. I posit that, ultimately, this happens because teams don’t see each other as customers. You might be thinking “But they’re not our customers, they’re our colleagues!”. Also true. This talk will explore how every team and every division in an organization can adopt a platform mindset, in which they treat what they offer to other teams as an internal product.

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