What is an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)?

An Internal Developer Platform (IDP) streamlines your internal development process to relieve pressure on Ops. Think of it like Heroku on top of the tech and tools you use today. IDPs are helpful in compartmentalizing the complexity involved in DevOps and creating a standardized developer workflow on top of all infrastructure and tools. This allows for developer self-serving and it prevents a zoo of unstructured scripts caused by unstructured and free-floating scripts.

The impact of IDPs 

In another article we’ve looked at a build vs. buy for your Internal Developer Platform. We reveal that for a team of 20 developers, building an IDP costs you around 5FTEs for 6 months. Maintaining the same IDP costs you roughly 1.5 FTEs for every 20 Developers. That is a total cost of ownership over 5 years of 252.000 USD. Building your IDP with Humanitec takes you to 20-30% of your total cost of ownership in a self-build approach.

How to make your developers self-serving with an Internal Developer Platform

Let’s look at what impact an IDP actually has on your internal productivity. We’ve used data from teams that have built an IDP internally (Github (2500 developers), Zalando (1000 developers), Sport1 (20 developers) as well as from teams that have built their IDP with Humanitec. The data is evaluated by surveying selected teams prior to the integration as well as 6 months after adopting Humanitec/their IDP.

The numbers may differ in your case, but we found the overall impact to be remarkably consistent. So, teams that deployed 1.5 times a week increased their deployment frequency to 6 times a week (which is a 4x increase). Teams that deployed on average once a month, increased by just over 4x to once a week.

Humanitec has an impact on two different levels: 

  1. Overhead necessary to maintain ops setup and serve developers
  2. Gain in productivity of the development team 

Impact on overhead necessary to maintain ops setup and serve developers

Impact Before After
How many developers can be served by one ops FTE 8 developers 15 developers
Time per week maintaining scripts and integrations per ops FTE 8 hours 1.6 hours
Mean Time to Recovery 6 hours 1.3 hours
Change failure rate 15% 4%
Average time onboarding a new DevOps to delivery setup 2 weeks 2 days

Gain in productivity of the development team

Impact Before After
Waiting times due to blocked environments decreased by 90% 4 hours/week per developer 24 minutes/week per
Average Deployment Frequency (up an average of 4X) 1.5 per week 6 per week
Visibility and transparency across teams, services and environments decreases transactional communication Limited to your 15 minute daily scrum Direct reaction based on activity of colleagues.
Onboarding time for new developers to delivery setup in hours 30 hours 4 hours
Lead time 13 days 4 days

A great effect is slightly more qualitative but equally important: teams using IDPs are entirely self-sustainable and become self-responsible. They run the entire end-to-end process. This “self-reliance” element means nothing is being “thrown over the fence” and the ownership level increases while friction between teams decreases.

There is a long list of things you will be missing out on if you are not using an Internal Developer Platform

  1. You will likely drown in scripts and subsequently maintenance costs. You might say today you’ll just hire more DevOps but this doesn’t scale. 
  2. No matter how hard you try, you’ll not reach the degree of automation possible because you don’t have the necessary scale. 
  3. You have a key-person dependency. Any maintenance update depends on someone who knows exactly what config to change in what file. This works great the first year. But the average time in a job in our industry is 1.4 years. 
  4. Everytime a dev needs a new environment they have to interrupt a colleague in ops  and wait for its creation. In the most extreme example we’ve seen in an automotive company this took 3 months per process. 
  5. If an environment is blocked with testing, it's blocked. If you need to ship something you can’t, and if you have to run a hotfix your team is out of the game entirely.

If you want to evaluate build vs. buy, this is an article you might want to read.

In conclusion: there are two key ways an IDP will impact your team: you will be able to serve developers better with a fraction of the overhead and the productivity will significantly increase. But what’s probably most important is that Humanitec’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) 6 months after initial introduction is above 95%.

If you are interested in more detailed numbers, reach out to us.