For organizations that want to build and deploy software faster, internal developer platforms (IDPs) have emerged as a key component of their software engineering culture.

Every IDP is different, but what they have in common is a goal: to abstract away cumbersome infrastructure decisions for software developers, easing the operations burden on overstretched devops teams.

That doesn’t mean every organization should build its own internal developer platform, but for those that find themselves drowning in complexity, constantly wrestling with legacy systems, or unable to scale their engineering team to meet the demands of the business, an IDP could be the answer.

“You have to start at the grassroots level,” said Kaspar von Grünberg, CEO of Humanitec, a startup aimed at helping organizations build IDPs. “We usually see organizations take a small group of their best engineers and ask them to be the glue across segregated toolchains. Then you start to centralize this around a common API that teams can work against and bring structure to that sea of unstructured tools.”

The cultural shift required to move to an IDP—complete with its own internal platform team—should not be underestimated. Transparency, regular communication, and adopting a product-first mindset are all required to ensure the platform achieves its intended goals. Even engineering powerhouses like Netflix will tell you how tough it can be.

“There were moments where application developers felt the platform team was not focused appropriately on their needs, and other times when platform teams felt overtaxed by user demands,” wrote Frank San Miguel, a senior software engineer at Netflix, in a blog post. “We got through these tough spots by being open and honest with each other.”

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