In configure8, you get a comprehensively populated catalog where all the metadata from all your tools is populated and automatically updated.
In our previous post, you learned what Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) are. But you also learned that creating an IDP is quite involved. It’s not as simple as gathering all the information in one place. All that information must be properly categorized and organized—otherwise, instead of solving the problem, IDP could make it worse.
In this post, you’ll learn how configure8 works and how it can help you build an efficient Internal Developer Platform.
Nowadays, we have dozens if not hundreds of development frameworks and libraries. Some aim to make your development efforts easier; others are feature-rich and highly configurable. There are many libraries that can speed up your development process and save you time with tedious tasks. And sure, building simple “Hello World” applications using modern frameworks is quite easy. But creating a complete, production-ready application isn’t a piece of cake. The bigger the application, the more libraries and frameworks to manage.
This can quickly lead to development sprawl. This is when you spend much of your time trying to understand and manage the relationship between all these libraries and microservices.
Fortunately, a well-implemented IDP can help you manage all of that complexity. You can read about IDPs in more detail in our previous post.
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is configure8? Simply, it’s a tool you can use to build an IDP. Or, to put it differently, it can help you solve development sprawl and give your developers and managers some clarity. If you don’t have a good handle on your development efforts, and you’re not sure which features and components are complete and which are still in progress—or if it takes a really long time for new developers to onboard—keep reading! We’ll explain how configure8 can help you.
A big contribution to development sprawl is the fact that the information is all spread out across many places. In a typical development process, a developer will have to search across wiki pages, third-party-hosted documentation, code repositories, and many other places. And all that time they spend on searching for an answer, they could be spending on development. So no matter how good, modern, and easy-to-use your framework is, if it has information hidden in multiple places, that can negate its benefits.
For this reason, configure8 puts a lot of effort into organizing knowledge. In configure8, you get a comprehensively populated catalog where all the metadata from all your tools is populated and automatically updated. That means you get all the important information—like performance, costs, reliability, security details, and CI/CD pipelines metrics—in one place. But that’s not all. It also has items that bring the most value to new joiners—think ownership details, documentation, languages and frameworks used, and dependency graphs. You’ll find all of that in configure8. It’s an easy way to answer most questions that developers usually struggle to find the answers to.
Getting all the necessary information in one place is just half of the solution. Too much information, not properly organized, won’t automatically solve the problem. But configure8 has a solution for that, too. You can use prebuilt, scenario-specific views, or make your own reusable views to answer key questions or explore. Using filters means you don’t have to write SQL-like queries, which is quite common in other tools that promise powerful knowledge-exploring capabilities but in reality are hard to use. You can also explore how cloud costs, security, reliability, performance, and staffing relate to applications, services, and cloud resources at the environment level.
There’s also another exciting feature coming soon. Scoreboards will let you define service levels to measure DevOps adoption, SRE best practices, and other goals. You’ll be able to define initiatives such as operational efficiency, maturity, and production readiness reviews, or more detailed things like moving to Kubernetes or upgrading to the latest version of node.js and then measure progress via reporting. With the scoreboards feature, you’ll be able to give your developers one place to find all relevant information and also have one place to check if they’re on the right track.
So, what does all of the above mean for your development team’s daily activities? Well, first of all, you’ll drastically improve the developer experience. And that leads to many positive changes in the way your teams will operate. If DevOps is about deploying faster and more often, configure8 adds confidence to these deployments.
And we’re not just talking about new service deployments. Think about middle-of-the-night bug fixes: These are usually quite stressful because they need to happen fast. But at the same time, if they’re not done properly, instead of fixing some issue, they can lead to even more bugs or even downtime. And if an on-call engineer can’t find the answer to a question in the middle of the night, they either need to wake up half of the company or take the risk. With configure8, however, all that is in the past. The ability to visualize and filter information and dependencies makes it way easier to find the ownership and documentation of any component. Configure8 can also help you run readiness reviews to ensure there are relevant and up-to-date runbooks, dashboards, logs, and on-call escalation policies.
In a traditional software development process, reliability and security improvements are usually second-class citizens. Sure, everyone understands the importance of improving the software’s reliability and security, but there are always more important things to do first—and not enough time. From a developer’s perspective, it’s also usually easier to add new features or create completely new services than to implement security or reliability improvements. This is because the latter usually requires touching quite a few different pieces of the software as well as aligning with other teams.
But guess what—configure8 can help with that, too. Firstly, the knowledge graph saves your developers time, so they have more time to focus on security and reliability improvements. But also, because all the information is in one place, it’s easier to bring any improvements to the code, because they don’t need to waste time emailing and calling other teams for clarification on why some code was written that way, and not another way. With configure8, you can also tailor checks to your company’s needs. Generic security scanners are good, but what’s considered secure—for example, for an ordinary e-commerce shop—may be insecure for a bank. Configure8 lets you organize reliability, security, and cost metrics by service.
What all of this leads to is that configure8 lets you focus on what actually matters: features and business logic. Instead of spending half your time making sense of all the dependencies between services or understanding cloud resources’ usage and ownership, you can simply focus on business logic and building new or improving existing services. Self-serve, on-demand, always-fresh knowledge in one place not only helps new hires but also helps senior engineers and managers. Remember when we talked about development sprawl? Well, that’s how you get rid of it.
The concept of an IDP isn’t new, but it’s only starting to become popular now. This is mainly because, up until recently, it wasn't all that easy to actually build one. IDPs should gather all the information together in one place and make everyone's lives easier. If this is done incorrectly, it could do the opposite. But with tools like configure8, you can finally create an extremely useful IDP for your company, no matter the size. Moreover, configure8’s simplicity means that you can literally start delivering business value in minutes.
This post was written by Dawid Ziolkowski. Dawid has 10 years of experience as a Network/System Engineer at the beginning, DevOps in between, Cloud Native Engineer recently. He’s worked for an IT outsourcing company, a research institute, telco, a hosting company, and a consultancy company, so he’s gathered a lot of knowledge from different perspectives. Nowadays he’s helping companies move to cloud and/or redesign their infrastructure for a more Cloud Native approach.