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Organizations are focused on business outcomes for their IT departments, and many recognize that they need to take a product-oriented approach that shifts ownership of delivering a product from a single team to a much broader group. Many organizations have fallen into a habit of treating their own application development platform as a cost center, managing it entirely differently from how they would treat their customer-facing applications.

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Developer teams often experience obstacles that can slow down their work, whether it’s a tedious approval process for each release, longer wait times caused by moving requests between teams, or a lack of needed skills and resources. Identifying existing friction points is a good start to increasing the efficiency of your development process, but it's also important to think more holistically to find efficiencies in your development process.

Considerations for adopting platform engineering

This is where the modern DevOps concept of platform engineering comes in, as it aims to reduce or eliminate the complicated tasks that hinder developer productivity and slow down the application lifecycle. This thinking is often referred to and treated as Platform-as-a-Product (PaaP), maintained by a platform engineering team, because the platform provides critical benefits for accelerating the work of the developers that utilize it. 

Establishing a foundation for developers to code, build, integrate and deploy applications is crucial due to its fundamental role in fostering a robust development environment. As a part of the Platform-as-a-Product approach, Red Hat Services works with teams to create software templates that serve as a starting point for onboarding user workflows and enabling self-service capabilities for developers.

Software templates, sometimes referred to as “Golden Paths”, can include governance policies, standard configurations, recommended libraries and best practices. Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipelines can be created by the software templates, based on GitOps code that includes dependencies and libraries providing consistency in all phases to continually deploy applications to production. A unique path is assigned to each middleware (ex: Red Hat JBoss, Fuse or Red Hat build of Quarkus) and are treated as version products that live on the versioned platform product.

Red Hat Developer Hub ties all of this together to help create a more seamless user experience. Developer Hub is an internal developer portal, based on the Backstage upstream project, that helps organizations streamline the onboarding and day-to-day experiences of developers, and provides a place to share software templates for tackling common problems.

Developer hub also has a powerful plugin system allowing the platform engineers to take advantage of an already well established community of pre-built integrations for efficiently building software templates to meet their users needs integrated with their existing tools and services"

Platform engineering and Red Hat OpenShift

To get started with adopting a platform engineering approach, think about your desired business outcomes and do some internal research to identify existing problems so that what you plan to build is aligned with the business needs.

Next, build an internal developer platform by creating an inventory of the existing infrastructure and tools and use those to build a platform to address the identified problems.

Then, expose your platform with a developer portal, such as Red Hat Developer Hub and invite developers to start with a small experiment on the platform where it’s safe to fail, to allow for slow but consistent growth.

Finally, continue gathering feedback from development teams and use that feedback to add and optimize tools for an improved experience.

Platform engineering in practice

We’ve recently put this into practice working with a large bank in the Australia and New Zealand region (ANZ) during their upgrade to Red Hat OpenShift 4 and the bank chose the Platform–as-a-Product approach driven by GitOps. Our consultants helped the team design the OpenShift platform with developer self-service as the key goal.

In only eight months, the bank was able to speed up application onboarding through self-services, reduce wait times, internal tickets and errors and achieve successful workload migration within the given timeframe without business disruptions. 

How Red Hat Services can help

Red Hat Consulting recommends a couple of different approaches for identifying efficiencies in your development process, the first being value stream mapping (VSM). This is a technique used to visualize and analyze steps in a production process and is meant to identify items that are either adding value or not and removes items that are not adding value.

The second method is metrics-based process mapping (MBPM). Created for application development, it combines principles of process mapping with the use of metrics to improve quality and effectiveness of a development process by focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics.

Whether you want to perform these activities on your own or you want someone to guide you through the exercises, we are here to help.

If you want to get started on your own, Red Hat Training and Certification offers an OpenShift developer-based curriculum to help your teams build real-world skills that support development transformation projects.

Exciting developments are on the horizon with the introduction of a new Cloud Services training skills path, tailored for Red Hat OpenShift on AWS and Microsoft Azure Red Hat OpenShift. This path will delve into essential topics such as customizations, SRE access permissions, and the intricacies of creating and configuring production clusters, along with application integration. Keep a lookout for more details in the coming months!

If you find yourself needing additional guidance for you and your organization, Red Hat Consulting provides proven blueprints and the skills needed to effectively build a comprehensive and consistent platform for developing and delivering applications. To learn more about how we can help accelerate delivery for platform and application teams, download the Modernize the hybrid cloud developer experience e-book. 

About the authors

Randy Drisgill manages a dynamic portfolio of Red Hat Services, including consulting, training, and Technical Account Management (TAM) focused on helping customers achieve their business goals through OpenShift as an application platform. Whether translating business needs into actionable strategies, ensuring Red Hat’s services align seamlessly with market demand, or crafting compelling go-to-market messaging, Randy’s passion lies in creating impactful solutions that drive adoption and propel organizations toward success. Randy has a holistic background spanning product management, marketing, team leadership, and both front-end and back-end development. Randy is also an accomplished author, having authored several books on intranet information architecture, design, and development.

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Ian has a passion for bringing people together with technology to solve problems and the related and inevitable culture change that accompanies any technological paradigm shift. With a passion for the ideation to production domain he has been assisting Red Hat clients since 2012 to realize their process efficiency dreams from application development to release engineering to their self-service automated hybrid cloud, and everything in between. When not helping build “the cloud” you will find him with his family in Vermont climbing to, flying in, falling from, or skiing down from the actual clouds.

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