April 24, 2024

A Day in the Life of a Platform Engineer

Signetic Tech Talk Tuesdays Session 2 :A Day in the Life of a Platform Engineer

On May 21, 2024, Neeraj Lekhak, our seasoned Platform Engineer, delivered an insightful presentation on what it means to be a platform engineer at Signetic.

Here's a recap of Neeraj's presentation.

A Typical Day for a Platform Engineer

Neeraj kicked off his presentation by walking us through his morning routine, which usually begins by reviewing the Jira board and setting his goals. Next, he attends a daily stand-up meeting with his team where everyone provides updates and makes any necessary requests.

Throughout the day, as he works on his own goals and requested tasks, Neeraj may receive a Slack message regarding a production issue. Due to compliance reasons, access to production logs is limited, making it a challenge to pinpoint problems. However, by collaborating closely with the team and thoroughly examining the logs, they identified the issue and prepared a hotfix.

This constant balancing act is a significant part of a platform engineer's role, providing support while also working on planned tasks.

Understanding Platform Engineering

Platform engineering is an evolving field that builds on DevOps principles. The goal is to improve security, compliance, reduce costs, and provide development teams with a platform that reduces time to business value. Platform engineers manage the underlying infrastructure and tools, developing reusable building blocks through packages, plugins, and frameworks for maximum efficiency and performance monitoring. To better understand what platform engineers do, it is important to understand the difference between platform engineering, DevOps, and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE).

DevOps Engineers focus on implementing DevOps practices like infrastructure management and CI/CD pipelines, often without direct involvement in product development.

Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) aim to create scalable and reliable software systems by actively measuring and monitoring system performance and reliability.

Platform Engineers provide tools, frameworks, pipelines, plugins, and APIs that product teams use to build and deploy applications.

Anti-Patterns and Good Patterns

You build it, you run it. This common phrase highlights how developers should be able to deploy and run their apps and services end to end. However, this is unrealistic for most companies as they don’t have the same talent pool and resources to optimize their developer workflows. This leads to a series of anti-patterns, such as:

  • Anti-Type F: Ops embedded in the dev team, where development teams take on operations tasks without proper expertise, leading to subpar solutions.
Image 1: Anti-Type F

Source: web.devopstopologies.com

  • Anti-Type A: Also known as Dev and Ops Silos, where development and operations teams work in isolation, resulting in poor software operability.
Image 2: Anti-Type A

Source: web.devopstopologies.com

Conversely, good patterns include:

  • Type 1 Pattern: Smooth collaboration between Dev and Ops teams, each specializing where needed. The Development team and operations teams must have a clearly expressed and demonstrably effective shared goal.
Image 3: Type 1 Pattern

Source: web.devopstopologies.com

  • Type 2 Pattern: Operations integrated into product development teams, though this is only feasible for highly experienced teams.
Image 4: Type 2 Pattern

Source: web.devopstopologies.com

The Importance of Platform Engineers at Signetic

Signetic's diverse infrastructure needs span from Power Platform to Azure, with seven different applications, 17 different APIs, and microservices using 4 different databases, all requiring seamless integration. Platform engineers handle these integrations, addressing technical debt and ensuring quality. A few of the many achievements of the platform engineering team include:

  • Client Enrollment System: Reduced onboarding time from 3-4 hours to 3-4 minutes.
  • Improved Developer Experience (DevEx): Integrated tools like SonarQube for code quality checks.
  • Enhanced System Performance: Made architectural changes to increase throughput without breaking integrations.
  • Mono Repo Transition: Consolidated repositories to streamline workflows and maintain common standards.

Neeraj's presentation provides invaluable insights into the day-to-day responsibilities of a platform engineer and highlights the critical role they play in driving efficiency, security, and innovation at Signetic.

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