1 (The rise of) platforms on top of Kubernetes


This chapter covers

  • Understanding platforms and why we need them
  • Building a platform on top of Kubernetes
  • Introducing a “walking skeleton” application

Platform engineering is not a new term in the tech industry. But it is quite new in the cloud-native space and the context of Kubernetes. We were not using the term in the cloud-native communities when I started writing this book back in 2020. However, by the time of writing this book (2023), platform engineering had become the new hot topic in cloud-native and Kubernetes communities. This book aims to go on a journey to explore what platforms are and why you would use Kubernetes, and more specifically, the Kubernetes APIs at the core, to build a platform and enable your internal teams to deliver software more efficiently.

To understand why platform engineering became a trend in the industry, you first need to understand the cloud native and Kubernetes ecosystems. Because this book assumes that you are already familiar with Kubernetes, containers, and cloud-native applications, we will focus on describing the challenges you will face when architecting, building, and running these applications on top of Kubernetes and cloud providers. We will take a developer-focused approach, meaning that most of the topics covered are tackled in a way that relates to developers’ day-to-day tasks and how a myriad of tools and frameworks in the cloud-native space will affect them.

1.1 What is a platform, and why do I need one?

1.1.1 Cloud services and domain-specific needs

1.1.2 Your job as an organization

1.1.3 Working with cloud platforms

1.1.4 GCP dashboard, CLIs, and APIs

1.1.5 Why do cloud providers work?

1.2 Platforms built on top of Kubernetes

1.2.1 The Kubernetes adoption journey

1.2.2 The CNCF Landscape puzzle

1.3 Platform engineering

1.3.1 Why can’t I just buy a platform?

1.4 The need for a walking skeleton

1.4.1 Building a Conference application

1.4.2 Differences between a monolith and a distributed set of services

1.4.3 Our walking skeleton and building platforms