CECG was founded by and is made up of, the most senior software engineers that want to get things done quickly.
Most CECG engineers started their careers in a product software engineering role but gravitated towards infrastructure as it became the bottleneck for delivery.
That formed the basis for us becoming Platform Engineering specialists; where our typical engagement is building large-scale developer platforms used by hundreds, if not over a thousand, product software engineers at a time. We have done this across industries: Retail Banking, Investment Banking, Media and Healthcare.
Building a Developer Platform can be a huge investment for a company and thus, historically, we only recommend it once you have at least 5 software engineering teams building products.
That is not because 1, 2, or 3 teams would not get significant benefits, it’s just the tipping point for the significant Return on Investment of building from scratch.
As we have evolved as a company, we have drastically reduced the cost of building a Developer Platform to the point that we now can offer a significant return on investment even if you just have one development team. To understand how let’s look at the evolution of how we do developer platform build-outs.
The evolution of a Developer Platform buildout
The 12-month buildout: at the cutting edge
When we embarked on our first major developer platform buildout back in 2015, it was a significant undertaking. We were building on top of immature technologies such as Kubernetes (pre-release, v0.8), and constantly having to fix software issues in both Docker and Kubernetes. Ultimately we helped add much of the initial AWS support for Kubernetes when the cloud provider support was directly in the Kubernetes open source tree.
To go live in an enterprise environment with a multi-tenanted developer platform with 3-5 initial tenants we would estimate 12 months for 5-10 engineers.
The 6-month buildout: Reference roadmaps
After delivering numerous developer platforms, we settled on a reference roadmap. When we start a bespoke build now, we don’t start from scratch. We start with:
- An external roadmap for tenants going live
- An Epic-level backlog for all major features based on initial discovery. These epics are refined based on client requirements
- Pre-existing architectural decisions (ADs) based on an initial discovery
Let’s look at an example of the pre-existing ADs: Developer Platform Ingress as detailed in this blog post is a great example of how we can reduce the time to build a Developer Platform.
Without the AD, the activities involving spiking, testing and selecting an Ingress Controller would take 1-2 months for a platform engineering team without experience building Developer Platform Ingress. On the other hand, it can be rolled out in a matter of days using the tried and tested CECG approach.
The 3-month buildout: Aggressive descoping & pre-built features
The 3-month buildout is a natural evolution of its 6-month counterpart. With such a tight deadline -and based on our experience of getting MVP Developer Platforms live- we reduce to the minimum scope and aggressively add features after the initial production release.
The scope for altering pre-existing architectural decisions is removed and we bring pre-built features such as Platform Observability and our open source Continuous Load tool.
The 1-day buildout: The CECG Developer Platform
What happens when we have implementations of all the major features of a Developer Platform? We get to a Developer Platform in a day! That’s what we can do for new clients today. For smaller enterprises and startups this can be the only solution they need. For large enterprises, we may use it as the start of a bespoke solution.
The choice to invest in a Developer Platform becomes so much easier if you can demonstrate a working engineering environment right away.
Our CECG Developer Platform allows us to continuously take the lessons learned across build-outs at diverse and large enterprises and offer them to smaller organisations that typically wouldn’t have access to that type of infrastructure capability.
Regardless of which type of buildout of a Developer Platform fits your organisation, we believe that early integration with development teams is the key to success.
For all our roadmaps we include a Developer Playground milestone as soon as possible.
This is where development teams can integrate with an early version of the platform and then iterate towards production along with platform development.
This keeps stakeholders on the application side engaged and finds application-level blockers at the earliest possible time.
For fully bespoke clients who want to build everything from scratch to their specifications, we can still deploy the Developer Platform at the start of the engagement to unblock teams.
Building a developer platform is a huge undertaking for an organisation. It is in our opinion the biggest enabler for Continuous Delivery and Governance at scale. At CECG our goal is to make Developer Platforms available to companies of every size.
If you need one, we are here to help.