Guest post originally published on Humanitec’s blog by Luca Galante

2022 was an explosive year for platform engineeringPlatformCon 2022, the first-ever conference by and for platform engineers, garnered over 78 community-submitted talks and 6000 attendees. Platform engineering went viral on The New Stack and spurred a heated debate about the future of DevOps.

Toy story meme quoting "Platform engineering, Platform engineering everywhere"

In 2022 alone, the Platform Engineering Slack community grew from 1000 to over 8000 practitioners around the world. And platform engineering was featured on Garnter’s 2022 Hype Cycle and named a top technology trend of 2023.

But that’s only the beginning. Here are my predictions for what’s coming next.

1️⃣ More comprehensive case studies

If this KubeCon talk from Kognic’s Jessica Andersson or this PlatformCon talk from [insert here] are any indication, comprehensive case studies of platform engineering initiatives are already in high demand. As more organizations’ platforms mature, I expect we’ll see more of these types of resources shared with the community. I often see questions about how to kick off a platform project, start building, roll out the platform across the organization, ensure adoption, etc. So more case studies are going to be an exciting development for 2023! 

2️⃣ Knowledge sharing for tooling and blueprints

With around 2000 tools in the cloud native landscape at a platform organization’s disposal, figuring out what combination of tools are needed is a daunting task. In 2023, I think we’ll see more standards and reference implementations shared with the community and gain traction. Refraining from adopting technology that does not fit the needs of the organization will remain a challenge, so organizations still need to conduct user research and solicit regular feedback. Organizations should treat their platform as a product that addresses the unique needs of their developers.

Platform tooling landscape

3️⃣ DevEx and Platform Engineer roles will become more popular

DevOps Engineering skills will still be in high demand, but the job titles associated with them will likely look a bit different. Conversations like the one in this Reddit thread illustrate engineering organizations’ renewed focus on improving the developer experience, specially through building or improving Internal Developer platforms. Humanitec’s State of Platform Engineering Report shows that many people with DevOps Engineer titles are already building platforms. As an awareness of platform engineering grows, I predict that these titles will change to more accurately reflect these individuals’ responsibilities.

4️⃣ Focus on infrastructure abstraction for developers

The movement to “shift left” has forced developers to have an end-to-end understanding of an ever-increasing amount of complex tools and workflows. Oftentimes, these tools are infrastructure-centric, meaning that developers have to be concerned with the platform and tooling their workloads run on. When setups involve a lot of tech and tools that differ across environments, an infrastructure-centric approach can add a lot of cognitive load. Things like dynamic configuration management and Score are designed to abstract away some of that complexity and alleviate cognitive load on developers.

5️⃣ Service catalog implementations will become more user friendly

Solutions like Backstage are still very complex to use. This is creating a big opportunity managed and supported alternatives like Port, Compass, Cortex etc. It’s hard to say if Backstage will become easier to use or if paid alternatives will take the lead. But as Service Catalogs become an increasingly integral UI component of Internal Developer Platforms, they will have to become more user friendly.

6️⃣ Platform Engineering community growth

2022 was a year of firsts for the Platform Engineering community. The first-ever PlatformCon laid the foundation for community-driven webinars, in-person workshops, and PlatformCon 2023. As platform engineering continues to grow in popularity, there will be a greater demand for resources and insights from platform practitioners. The community is poised to facilitate and expand these conversations, and I can’t wait to see where 2023 takes it next.

Platform Engineering Community growth timeline

What do you think of my list? Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @luca_cloud. And, if you’re looking for more platform engineering resources, check out the first-ever State of Platform Engineering Report. It’s packed with key statistics and insights no platform engineer should miss.