Scaling Apps with Platform Engineering

James Bennett
Enterprise Platforms, Indiana University

Enterprise Platforms

  • Part of central IT at IU: UITS
  • Combination of several former groups:
    • Systems Integration/Middleware
    • Linux Administration
    • Database Administration
    • Cloud Support


  • What is Platform Engineering?
  • Three main pillars
  • Core components
  • Cloud integrations

What is Platform Engineering?

“A digital platform is a foundation of self-service APIs, tools, services, knowledge and support which are arranged as a compelling internal product. Autonomous delivery teams can make use of the platform to deliver product features at a higher pace, with reduced co-ordination.”
Evan Bottcher

Team Topologies

Platform Team Responsibilities

  • Strong collaboration with customers
  • Relies on fast prototyping and fast feedback
  • Strong focus on usability and reliability
  • Leads by example (eats our own dog food)
  • Understands service adoption is not immediate

Three Main Pillars

Improving DevEx

  • Empower development teams
  • Reduce cognitive load
  • Tie everything together
  • Amplify best practices

Differentiated Capabilities

  • Take advantage of best aspects of each cloud
  • Batteries included but removable
  • Eases customer interactions

Platform as a product

  • Managed as an agile project
  • Platform stakeholder group

Core Components

Thinnest viable platform

  • Content pulled together into KB and
  • Support forms tied into automation

Asset/config management

  • Keep track of what is needed and deployed
  • Configuration managed in Git with IaC
  • Secrets managed in HashiCorp Vault

Infrastructure orchestration

  • Everything possible is IaC (Terraform/Ansible)
  • Orchestrated with Argo Events/Workflows
  • Artifact storage serves as a hub

Environment management

  • Self-service mechanisms
  • Codifying difference between environments

Deployment management

  • CI/CD pipelines as-a-service
  • Feedback loops to alert teams when input is needed
  • Automated approval in certain cases

Role-based access control

  • Seamless access to services we maintain
  • Integration with Incommon TAP
  • Group release through SAML/OIDC integration

Cloud Integrations

Development assistance

  • Increasing use of purpose-built tools
  • Want development to be close to production
  • Container/cloud-based development environments
  • GitHub Codespaces

Platform assets

  • Increasing dependence on platform orchestration
  • Tanzu tooling for creating/managing Kubernetes clusters in various cloud environments
  • Better options for solving some scalability problems


  • Extend Kuberntes to support cloud resources
  • Incorporate cloud assets into Kubernetes templates