When do you need an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)?

When do you need an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)? #

Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs) make sense in certain setups, but they can be overkill in others.

Don’t overcomplicate things too early #

We believe an engineering team should use off-the-shelf platforms such as Heroku for as long as possible. Typical reasons that make you migrate away from those are:

  • You need granular access to the underlying infrastructure
  • Your costs get out of control
  • You have advanced data-privacy or security requirements.

When does an Internal Developer Platform not make sense? #

  • You are a small specialized team of 1-15 developers and you’ve hired dedicated DevOps colleagues already or everyone in your team is a senior engineer comfortable with scripting and infrastructure.
  • You have a single monolithic application.
  • You have one application with a simple, single-cloud infrastructure.

When does an Internal Developer Platform make sense? #

  • You have or you plan to adopt a microservice architecture.
  • You have a standing team of more than 15 developers with a dedicated DevOps engineer or you are planning to scale to this size. This DevOps team (or person) cannot properly focus on service level agreements or workflows because of repetitive work.
  • You have a small team and not everyone feels comfortable with deployments, scripting, and infrastructure and you have not yet hired a dedicated DevOps.
  • Your developers are blocked in their work by dependencies on other colleagues.
  • Anytime when you have to go multi-cloud.

Build or buy? #

The answer to the question “When should you get an IDP?” is heavily dependent on your decision to build or buy. While building an IDP based on a framework can make sense, it’s labor-intensive in setup and maintenance and in practice, requires an ops/platform team of at least 5 standing FTEs.

-> Build vs. buy