In his recent article Galo Navarro, discussed his learnings as Principal Software Engineer at Adevinta in building a platform and supporting team to support over 1500 developers. He indicates that companies that reach a certain size tend to create one or more teams to care for their technical infrastructure.
He calls out that the key struggle within these teams is to find the correct balance between setting standards but allowing for individual team autonomy.
Navarro states that “opinionated Platform teams risk coming across as patronizing, ivory-tower-dwelling jerks that impose capricious choices on other engineering teams.”
InfoQ recently sat down with Navarro to discuss approaches to structuring a platform team to enable them to best support the organization.
**NGINX Plus is the complete application delivery platform for the modern web. **Start your 30 day free trial.
InfoQ: You indicate that for a platform team to be able to make a meaningful impact the organization must have standards. Could elaborate on what you mean by that and what sort of standards you feel need to be present?
Galo Navarro: Sure. The point of creating a platform team is to leverage economies of scale. Organizations create that type of team because they expect to amortize the costs of building tools and infrastructure over the population of engineers that will use them.
Imagine a Platform team that is asked to provide an RPC solution for service-to-service communication, but some of their product teams want to use JSON, others Thift, others Protobuf, others their own custom serialization format. The Platform team is in a tough spot. If they support every choice they multiply cost (dev and maintenance), this is what I mean by spreading too thin. If instead they support only one or two, they reduce their surface of impact. Either way, this team will have a lower ROI for the company. On the contrary, if the organization is able to settle on one standard, the Platform team is able to focus on building one solution that immediately spreads to every engineering team, and can then move on to solving other problems. The team has a higher ROI, and more chances of success.
Standards are inseparable from economies of scale. There is no Internet without a standard networking protocol. No global logistics without a standard shipping container. An organization that creates a Platform team is looking for economies of scale, and must be ready to define and evolve standards if they want to set this team for success.
For your second question, the type of standards that make more sense to me are those that a) address roadblocks / friction points that slow down product teams, and that b) are specific to the organization. Standards that:
#platforms #paas #infrastructure #programming #cloud computing #devops #development #article
Galo Navarro discusses how to build an effective platform team and scale it to support a large organization. Q&A with Galo Navarro on Building an Effective Platform Team