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Episode 101 · Feb 6, 2024

Romaric Philogène on Nurturing Developer Experience

Featuring Romaric Philogène, Qoverry’s co-founder
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From the outbreak of cloud services to the growing complexity of development infrastructure, developers are increasingly burdened with managing technical hurdles instead of focusing on innovation. Internal platform engineering emerges as a potential solution. However, traditional platform engineering often falls short, focusing on technology implementation rather than the actual needs of developers. Here enters Qovery, an IDP company offering a paradigm shift towards developer experience (DX). In this episode, Qoverry’s co-founder Romaric Philogène will share the company’s journey and his innovative vision towards DX. 

Edited transcription

After spending several years in tech, first as a system engineer and then in DevOps, Romaric Philogène knew he craved a different path. To this end, he decided to co-found Qovery, an internal developer platform (IDP) company, which opened his eyes to the multi-faceted nature of building a successful product: “You need to be not only good on the product and technical side but so many different pieces, […] you have to learn so many different things, like marketing, market positioning, selling… It’s not a simple journey.”

With over 60,000 developers using the platform, Qovery prioritizes developer experience above all else. “If you have just to retain something from Qovery, it is just that we sell developer experience, that’s it,” Romaric says. Unlike platform engineering teams who focus solely on infrastructure, Qovery goes the extra mile to create intuitive development workflows, integrating with popular tools like IDEs, Git, and automated deployment platforms, while abstracting away infrastructure complexities of the likes of Kubernetes.

Evolving platform engineering: Putting developer experience first

As Romaric explains, platform engineers “are still IT departments, but they are building platform engineering teams inside their organizations to provide the developer experience that developers expect.” Platform engineering emerged as a shift in mindset in which platform engineers, understanding developers’ tools and processes, actively collaborate with developers. Hence, instead of simply providing servers and scripts, they craft experiences that empower developers to focus on code and business problems. To developers, it means having their application automatically deployed or being able to roll back changes without IT intervention easily.  

But while platforms and tech evolve at lightning speed, human resistance can linger. The shift from manual provisioning to platform-powered optimization and developer experience can feel like a loss of control for some. This resistance isn’t unique to platform engineering, as any organizational change demands education. 

One of the latest challenges Qovery faced was educating platform engineers, that is, as Romaric puts it, “helping them transition from just pure IT backgrounds and providing developer experience.” In this regard, he emphasizes the importance of helping people grow through the transition by offering workshops, office hours, and career guidance to ease anxieties. 

But even though some may push back, Romaric sees a growing enthusiasm for the new paradigm. According to Romaric, the focus on DX is what truly distinguishes current platform engineering from previous iterations. Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, he predicts that developer experience will remain at the core of platform engineering, a shift meant to unlock the full potential of development teams, allowing them to innovate and solve business challenges with greater agility.

Beyond the hype: Qovery’s pragmatic development platforms

Qovery clients are chiefly mid-size companies with growing engineering teams. Due to this growth, mid-sized companies often build their own solutions, grappling with inefficiency, high maintenance costs, and low adoption. Additionally, they might face different issues:

  • A shortage of IT teams to manage infrastructure
  • Start to undergo the lack of automation  
  • Need more developer independence
  • Are looking for options cheaper than building their own platform engineering  

Different technologies appeal to different company sizes and use cases. While some trends, like Docker in its early days, are embraced by nimble startups, others like Kubernetes seem tailor-made for the lumbering giants of the enterprise. Hence, rather than cherishing a given technology and offering it as a one-size-fits-all, Qovery’s approach consists of getting new customers through specific use cases and problems they are facing. For example, a major use case Romaric brings up is customers needing help with ephemeral environments, e.i short-lived environments for tasks like testing features, replicating bugs, etc. To this end, Qovery’s infrastructure abstraction layer remains agnostic regardless of the services used, whether AWS, third-party solutions, or on-prem systems.

While mid-sized companies represent a sweet spot, Qovery also finds success with larger enterprises seeking IDPs. These organizations value the unified experience and efficient SDLC (software development lifecycle) management that Qovery provides. 

The cost of ownership

Public clouds are a huge asset to novel companies, enabling them to scale without much capacity planning. However, their expanding array of services has led to increasing complexity. “AWS started with just 3 services. Now there are over 200. It’s crazy,” Romaric recalls. Similarly, open source offers accessibility but sometimes lacks the enterprise support needed to operate solutions at scale. In like manner, companies often build their own systems but struggle with adoption and find it expensive to run themselves.

As such, there’s a difference between companies being capable of accessing and owning a tool and actually running it to its fullest. What matters the most, Romantic emphasizes, is being capable of operating the solution, not its cost: “When you’re a company, you’re ready to pay for the support for the operation of that software,” Romaric says, pointing out that managing complex software is “the whole business of RedHat” and other similar companies. In this regard, he understands that “if you are adopting an open source solution inside your organization, as popular as the solutions can be, you need to be sure that your people inside the organization are qualified just to operate that solution.”

For this reason, management must simplify things for engineers, whose efforts, Romaric believes, “must be allocated to bringing value to the company and not on operating software that we can just buy.” In fact, he acknowledges that there are cases in which “the cost of just running the software is cheaper by paying a proprietary solution than just integrating that into our own process and just operating on our own.”

The bottom line

Qovery’s roadmap for 2024 is ambitious yet pragmatic. By refining existing features, integrating powerful tools, and addressing developer pain points, Qovery aims to empower teams worldwide. As the platform evolves, it remains committed to simplifying the complex and enabling developers to thrive. These are the key priorities that Qovery has set for the year ahead:

Improving existing features: Including significant work on their environment cloning feature which allows duplicating very large and complex environments with just a click. Focuses on performance gains.

Integrating new tools: Will integrate Replay Byte, an open-source tool they built for anonymizing sensitive data when using production databases for development/testing. Very important for organizations to preserve data privacy.

Developer portal product: Building an open-source developer portal alternative to Backstage. Backstage has issues around customization and integration that Qovery wants to improve upon.

Visit qovery.com to discover how Qovery can simplify your development workflow and path to production. You can follow Romaric on X (Twitter) and LinkedIn to stay updated on his latest developments and insights in the tech world.

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Meet the host

Darko Fabijan

Darko, co-founder of Semaphore, enjoys breaking new ground and exploring tools and ideas that improve developer lives. He enjoys finding the best technical solutions with his engineering team at Semaphore. In his spare time, you’ll find him cooking, hiking and gardening indoors.

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