Demystifying Platform Engineering

Ravindu Nirmal Fernando
3 min readMay 12, 2024



Platform engineering has become a critical discipline, reflecting a decade-long shift towards more integrated software development practices. Originally inspired by Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels, the “you build it, you run it” philosophy emphasized developer accountability across the software lifecycle, fostering ownership and quick feedback. This ethos laid the groundwork for DevOps and later, DevSecOps, as the complexity of cloud-native technologies and service architectures increased.

However, as developers struggled with these complexities, it became evident that a new approach was needed to focus on their primary goal: delivering business value efficiently. Platform engineering has emerged from these challenges, aiming to simplify and abstract the complexities of modern software deployment and operations.

Understanding Developer Cognitive Load

Platform engineering addresses the cognitive load that overwhelms developers when managing diverse tools, services, and technologies. As the cloud-native landscape evolves, developers face growing challenges — from provisioning infrastructure to managing CI/CD pipelines and ensuring security. According to Red Hat, platform engineering mitigates these issues by providing reusable tools and workflows through Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs), which streamline development processes and reduce friction [1].

How Platform Engineering Mitigates Cognitive Load

By abstracting complex infrastructures and toolchains behind self-service APIs and user interfaces, platform engineering offers a streamlined experience that frees developers from needing to be experts in infrastructure management. Standardized workflows and “golden paths” ensure that developers can focus on their core tasks without the overhead of managing every aspect of the technology stack [2] [3].

Platform Engineering and DevOps: Complementary Approaches

Platform engineering does not render DevOps obsolete; rather, it builds upon and refines DevOps principles. By centralizing the developer experience, platform engineering continues to embrace the core tenets of collaboration, automation, and continuous delivery. It also integrates cultural practices from Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) to create a unified and efficient application platform. This approach is supported by insights from VMware Tanzu and Puppet’s State of DevOps Report, which illustrate how platform engineering effectively scales DevOps practices to address modern development challenges [4] [5].

Moreover, platform engineering advances the dynamic cultural philosophy of DevOps, characterized by the CALMS principles — Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing. By treating the platform itself as a product designed to serve internal customers — developers — it enhances accountability and optimizes service delivery. This product-oriented approach ensures that platform engineering not only complements but also enhances DevOps, fostering a holistic development environment that adapts to evolving technological landscapes [6].


Platform engineering effectively reduces the cognitive load on developers, enabling them to concentrate on delivering value. By abstracting complex tools and technologies behind unified APIs and portals, platform engineering allows teams to operate more efficiently. Far from replacing DevOps, it represents a natural evolution of the philosophy, integrating cultural principles with effective tooling to streamline the development process.


【1】Red Hat on Platform Engineering


【3】 on Platform Engineering

【4】VMware Tanzu on Platform Engineering

【5】Puppet’s 2021 State of DevOps Report

【6】Exploring DevOps Principles