Much as it pains us to say it, PlatformCon 2023 is over for another year. But at Humanitec we remain on cloud nine. The highly anticipated platform engineering event of the year exceeded our expectations in SO many ways. And as sponsors, speakers, and participants, we’re still buzzing from being totally immersed in a wealth of knowledge imparted by industry-leading platform practitioners. So we thought, what better way to share the PlatformCon love than to deliver you some key insights… Starting with a quick peek into how it all began.
A snapshot of phenomenal growth
As both a discipline and a community, platform engineering has exploded. The first PlatformCon 2022 attracted over 6,000 attendees, a time when the Platform Engineering YouTube channel had 50 subscribers and the Slack channel hosted just over 4,000 members.
Just one year later PlatformCon 2023 welcomed a staggering 16,000+ attendees. The Platform Engineering YouTube channel now boasts 13,000+ subscribers, and the Slack channel is brimming with 14,000 members. Pretty impressive, huh?
There’s more. The 2022 event had 15 sponsors and received 105 talk submissions leading to 78 insightful talks. This year's event was backed by 27 sponsors, received a whopping 514 talk submissions, and hosted an impressive *drumroll….* 169 talks!
The impact of tried and tested blueprints
These skyrocketing numbers weren’t the only change to PlatformCon 2023. The event’s talks were spread across five new and improved conference tracks, one of which was "Blueprints”. In this track, industry thought leaders shared proven platform blueprints, reference architectures, and key design considerations to build a robust enterprise Internal Developer Platform (IDP).
The most viewed talk from the track was by the McKinsey team, Stephan Schneider and Mike Gatto, on "Platform as Code: Simplifying developer platform design with reference architectures". They emphasized the importance of reducing the cognitive and operational load on software developers to drive product innovation at speed. In the same track, our very own Humanitec CEO Kaspar von Grünberg stressed the need to design scalable and sustainable 'golden paths' throughout the application lifecycle, to help both developers and platform engineers and minimize technical debt.
The human side of platform engineering
Along with learning the value of using blueprints and reference architectures, we also discovered the cultural aspects of platform engineering. For example, in her talk "Why is it so hard to create a great Platform-as-a-Product?" OpenCredo CEO & CTO Nicki Watt explored common challenges when trying to apply product thinking to new platform initiatives, and how to overcome them. We learned that many organizations fail to apply the same considerations when approaching their platform as they would an external product. This is because when users are internal, it’s easier to assume what they know, want and need. Instead, organizations should aim to treat their internal users with the same care. They should also close off the crucial feedback loops needed to measure platform effectiveness and make continuous improvements.
Communicating the business value
“Impact” was the other track to make its debut this year. The agenda was packed with talks to educate business leaders on the value IDPs can bring — and to teach platform engineers and product owners how to gain C-suite buy-in.
Manjunath Bath from Gartner offered insights on how to convey the business value of platform engineering, using specific narratives that hammered home how it can drive business outcomes. In his talk “How to communicate the business value of platform engineering,” Manju discussed how delivering a self-service platform supported by a dedicated platform team can help scale DevOps across teams. Key to communicating platform engineering’s business value is understanding how it goes way beyond DevOps. And that different stakeholders have different priorities, so platform engineers need to know how to change the language accordingly. Manju wrapped up with Gartner’s Enterprise Value Equation and walked through how it can be used in a platform engineering context.
Real-world platform stories
From business value to real-life use cases, the "Stories" track was filled with platform gurus sharing their IDP journey highs and lows. Designed to showcase practitioners and their processes, this track featured stories that detailed everything from initial steps to building and rolling out the platform across the entire business. We heard from Adobe’s product manager Rohan Kapoor, as he shared how they built a platform for over 5000 developers in his talk “Adobe’s journey into building an Internal Developer Platform”. Adobe's Cloud-Native journey started in 2015 and today, thanks to their Cloud Platform Ethos, is now at a stage where millions of containers across multiple regions are deployed daily. Key learnings from this talk included the importance of treating internal developers like customers, establishing a baseline for success early, and that recalibration may be needed to make an impact.
Wrapping up PlatformCon 2023
PlatformCon 2023 blew our minds on so many levels. The event shone a spotlight on the industry’s brightest minds, enabling them to share insights on today’s most exciting platform engineering trends. It ignited fresh new ways of thinking. And it amplified the narrative on the growing importance of platform engineering. In addition to the 16,000+ attendees, the Platform Engineering YouTube channel saw more 50,000 views 🤯 over the two days.
While we all miss the buzz of PlatformCon 2023, we're already looking forward to the next event. In the meantime we want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who attended, spoke, and contributed to making this the number one platform engineering event of the year. You can access all talks at your own pace over on the Platform Engineering YouTube channel. And to secure your spot for the next groundbreaking conference, register here.