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Level Up - Issue #143


Level Up

May 8 · Issue #143 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

The Perplexing Platform Team
I’ve been thinking a lot about platform teams this week. When I work with a CTO at new companies, at some point, the topic of a “platform team” comes up. Unfortunately, I have found there are so many different ways this work is used I have to ask questions to understand “what sort” of platform team they are talking about. I want to share some of the common types I discover, even if I don’t agree they should be called a “platform team”
  • The “CD automation” platform team - This variant focuses on automating CI tasks and building the CD pipelines for different teams to bring software into production.
  • The “Cloud infrastructure” platform team - This variant provisions cloud infrastructure through the use of tools like infrastructure as code for various environments. Because they set up environments, they are also masters of environment configuration.
  • The “Operations” platform team - This variant connects product development teams with the tooling found in production such as logging, monitoring, alerting, dashboards and reporting.
  • The “SRE” platform team - This platform team goes beyond the normal duties and is also responsible for driving resiliency improvements from incidents and outages.
  • The “DevOps” platform team - Sometimes a team that “sits in between” development and operations team that focuses on automation.
  • The “Product Core Components” platform team - A team that provides common elements for other product team such as notifications, bootstrapping web services/applications and other code related elements.
Note: Some additional variations blend different aspects above.
I’ve also noticed that each type of platform team work in a number of ways:
  • They do the work - In this mode, other teams raise work requests or tickets, and the platform team does the work requested of them.
  • They enable - In this configuration, the platform team are often a functional team where each member is distributed into product teams and they do the work for teams but try to teach them so that the product teams have the knowledge to continue using the platform when they leave.
  • They provide self-service - In many organisations there are significantly more product teams than platform team (i.e. 10+) which means the platform team becomes overwhelmed with work. Instead of doing the work, or showing teams how to do the work, the platform team focuses on automating the common requests which ultimately leads to a self-service platform
What other platform team variants have you seen? Drop me an email and let me know.
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What sort of platform team are you talking about?
What sort of platform team are you talking about?
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Tweets of the Week
So true and releveant to my intro article!
John Bloom
We tried to build a platform team. I can say that it is easier said than done. The paved road by necessity declares a lot of current practices off road. I agree with this thread, it has to be bottom up but it also needs to have people at the top being willing to make tough calls.
A lot of software engineering means learning. Learning requires mistakes, which means rabbit holes.
Curtis Einsmann
In software engineering, rabbit holes are inevitable.

You'll research libraries, and not use them. You'll write code, just to delete it.

This isn't a waste — sometimes you need to go down a few wrong paths, to get to the right one.
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany