The role of CI/CD and platform engineering for robust software ecosystems

Money may make the world go round, but these days, APIs enable that money to flow. From banking to almost every other industry on the planet, APIs are increasingly underpinning all the services we use daily.

Is it any wonder that robust software ecosystems – those all-important communities of developers, software, services, customers and more on which businesses rely to support their digital platforms – must embrace CI/CD and platform engineering on the path to success?

Let’s break this down and look at why CI/CD and platform engineering are now crucial to creating a robust software ecosystem and map out some best practices for setting things up efficiently.

Building for growth

Robust software ecosystems underpin a business’ ability to scale. Each element of the ecosystem contributes to this; together, developers, third parties, consultants, services, software and end users can achieve something greater than the sum of their parts.

But software ecosystems can also be fragile. And complex. This means businesses can face plenty of bumps in the road when achieving the perfect ecosystem for enabling growth at scale. This is precisely where CI/CD best practices and platform engineering come into play…

Firm foundations

CI/CD and platform engineering are pivotal in enabling teams to develop, test and deliver software reliably and efficiently. Each contributes to this in its way.

Adopting a continuous integration and deployment/delivery approach means businesses can accelerate development, enhance quality assurance, reduce risk, improve consistency and enjoy fast feedback loops.

Added to this, courtesy of platform engineering is the ability to abstract underlying infrastructure complexities, scale horizontally, enforce consistent security and compliance, increase resource efficiency and deliver high availability and reliability.

All this can help support a robust software ecosystem that can cope with the demands of rapid scaling. At the same time, it can help ensure that the cognitive load on DevOps engineers doesn’t increase to the point that they burn out and run for the hills – an essential part of maintaining a sturdy ecosystem. It can also ensure that each team is focused on delivering value and innovation without being unduly bogged down by infrastructure concerns (something we explored recently about how platform engineering is shaping the API landscape).

Best practice tips for success

Embracing CI/CD and platform engineering is no longer a nice-to-have approach but a crucial part of creating a robust software ecosystem. That means adopting various best practices to get the best out of CI/CD pipelines and your internal developer platform.

For CI/CD pipelines, that means:

  • Automating everything: code integration, testing automatically on code commits, deployment, using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and more.
  • Using a version control system such as Git to manage change effectively and provide a single source of truth.
  • Managing artefacts (Docker images, binaries, dependencies and the like) efficiently.
  • Utilising parallel builds and tests to optimise build time and reduce feedback latency.
  • Deploying across multiple stages (dev, staging, production) and automatically promoting code between stages.
  • Monitoring the pipeline’s health and performance for full visibility and assurance that everything works as it should.

An effective internal developer platform, meanwhile, encompasses:

  • Self-service and a great developer experience so that developers can discover their needs and provision their infrastructure, deployment pipelines, and other resources without needing the platform engineering team to hold their hands.
  • Easy discoverability, so developers can find the tooling, workflows and processes they need rapidly and precisely.
  • Compliance, governance and security obligations are baked in as standards.
  • The ability to easily add new tools and integrations so that the platform can continually grow in line with developers’ needs and those of the business.
  • Clear documentation to deliver maximum efficiency and usability.

All this can do much to maximise chances of success when supporting scalable and effective continuous integration, deployment and iterative development – along with happy DevOps engineers – all cornerstones of a robust software ecosystem.

If this sounds like the sensible way forward for your business, why not speak to the Tyk team about how to kick things off?