The future: modern infra as the foundation to platform engineering

Modernizing your infrastructure could take many forms. Artificial intelligence, GreenOps, FinOps, and sustainability are all aspects that are just on the cusp of changing tech forever (for the better? It's still hard to tell - we're looking at you, ChatGPT!). The possibilities are endless and exciting. But if you're planning on heading straight for the bright lights, you’re getting ahead of yourself. You can’t take the opportunities out there if you have a codebase that’s unmanageable. So that's why here, on Cycloid's watch, modernize means “make manageable”. Once you can manage your code, then you can transform it.

Here's how you start.

Truth is, modernizing the way you deal with your infra, at least at the beginning of the process, isn't exactly hi-tech. Think about building bases and establishing sustainable foundations for the business of tomorrow, not building sky-high and adding bells and whistles today. Modernizing is about infrastructure-as-code (IAC) and using that IAC to automate as much as possible, streamlining processes and eliminating human error. This is something that works especially well in a GitOps context, which we'll also talk about today.

The foundation: Infra-as-code

We're unlikely to have to convince you of the benefits of infrastructure as code, but if we're still having this conversation, we might have to convince you of the benefits of actually biting the bullet. Sure, there are blockers - it's unlikely to provide full coverage of your infra, and legacy infra could cause a problem, but by making sure you've got the greatest coverage possible leaves much more time and space for higher-level tasks.

Adopting IAC can be automated with tools like InfraImport, leaving the smallest possible trace of legacy infra to be managed by hand. Less time doing repetitive, low-value work makes happier the techs, more streamlined processes, and code that's significantly easier to manage.

The system: GitOps

Once IAC is underway, you’ll be in a much better position to make the move to GitOps. It’s the natural extension of the idea underpinning all of our modernization  - use the available tech to remove manual involvement and human error.

By making your Git the single source of all truth and home to your code, config, and infrastructure (in the form of IAC), you can set up the pipelines you need to deploy and manage your infra and applications. It further automatizes the day-to-day of your environments, as well as ensures that there's always a single source of truth (the infra in your Git) to refer back to, and helps with security and other requirements for your code by checking and applying requirements as part of the continuous deployment process.

By using Git, you can take advantage of versioning and rollback capabilities, visibility and observability, and the ability to apply security requirements in a timely manner. It also creates a standard workflow for doing things, which leads to consistency across environments. Finally, it also allows your techs to work in the code repos they've always worked in, something we're sure they'll appreciate. GitOps truly does have something for everyone on the tech team.

The future: the platform engineering team

Once these two linked tasks are completed (a move to IAC and then implementing the use of Git to manage it), you’ve got a much more manageable technology “package” to entrust to the platform team. You know those pantry organization TikToks? The sigh of relief you get when you see the pleasingly predictable finished product is a lot like what will happen with your platform engineering team when it becomes obvious they're dealing with a "modern" infrastructure - it makes their job vastly easier. 

With the traceable, versionable, and automatizable benefits of IAC and GitOps, you'll have a manageable foundation that's much easier to build or insert into a solid developer platform. When you choose to use a tool like Cycloid, modules like StackForms, Cost Estimation, and Infraview will also leverage your infra-as-code to give you more insights and information on your performance and status that will allow you to take better, more sustainable decisions.

Ultimately, know that modernizing the way you manage your infrastructure sounds great, but "modernizing" is a bit of a misnomer. Using IAC and making the move to Git aren’t themselves the future - they’re the foundation of it. Get them in order and let really game-changing technology make the impact it can on your business.

This article is part of a larger series on sustainable platform engineering. Check below to see what you've missed - we'll add them as they go online.

  1. What is sustainable platform engineering?
  2. The future: modern infra as the foundation to platform engineering
  3. Get your automation right: how to build developer self-service your team will use
  4. Is platform engineering "green"? 
  5. Governance and security in the context of platform engineering
  6. GitOps -  it's necessary, but not enough
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