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The expert's guide to upsetting platform teams

Lindsay Neeson

by Lindsay Neeson

The expert's guide to upsetting platform teams

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Just to make sure we’re on the same page before we begin — platform teams reduce cognitive load for developers and make it easier to ship new features. They can have an enormous impact on your organization. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to the managers, developer teams, and organization as a whole.

Here's a quick overview on what not to do.

Insist your service is a special snowflake

“My service must be deployed on bare metal… with its own custom distributed datastore… and sub-ms inter-service latency.”

Cancel every 1:1

Platform teams aren’t succulents that only need water every other week, they are a garden of roses that should be taken care of thoughtfully. Managers should spend time with the platform team on a regular basis, which is why repeated, last-minute meeting cancelations is a really effective way to drive them mad.

Wear a 'Observability is a government conspiracy' t-shirt to the office

This is the perfect outfit to wear when making a deployment that increases logs by 100x. Bonus points: a hat that says "I have no dependencies."

Insist you need SSH or command line access to your service

If SSH or command line access is given to other teams and changes are made to the service, the platform team won’t be able to see what changes were made. Perfect!

Require all deployments to be instantaneous and simultaneous 

Platform teams should never allow more than one version of the application to run, ever. 

Versions by Katy FarmerImage: Katy Farmer, Lightstep Developer Relations

Demand that all developers need direct access to production databases for “testing"

There are so many other ways to test! The second you allow testing in production the security and operation impact takes years to unwind. There’s no turning back. If you really want to upset the platform team, demand that you need to test in the production environment in whichever company Slack channel has the most members.

Require assigned seating

The idea that each platform team member needs to sit with the corresponding developer team is unreasonable. Which means you should advocate for it with all your might. Tell the platform team that if they want to reduce CI completion times or improve workflows, they need to share a desk — or better yet, a keyboard — with a developer. 

Treat the platform team as personal support for your whole toolchain

Have you ever yelled at the platform team? Or hit them with an all-caps DM? "WHY ARENT YOU JUST DOING MY ASSIGNMENTS??" If not, it's never too late to start.

Granted, if you want to learn how to actually build and work with a platform team, you can read our guide: The Power of Platform teams: Driving Developer Effectiveness Across the Organization.

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